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Stockholm hosts latest Super Grand Prix

21 July 2008
www.wcsn.com

By Dave Ungrady

Don't blame American David Oliver if he dreams that the 110-meter hurdles at Wednesday's DN Galan Super Grand Prix meet in Stockholm, and by surreal extension even the Beijing Olympics, could magically take place in Berlin. Oliver has raced world-record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba 15 times and has beaten him only twice, both times in Berlin, including a 0.01-second victory on June 1 at the DBK-ISTAF Golden League meet.

But reality dictates that Robles and Oliver, the first- and second-ranked hurdlers in the world this year, will race for the 16th time in Stockholm. Their rivalry will build more momentum toward the Beijing games with another scheduled clash July 25-26 at the London Super Grand Prix.

"Hopefully I will be able to grab a couple more victories against him in other places, too," Oliver, the Olympic trials champion, said in an email Sunday. "I don't know if there is any game plan to beat Robles. You beat him the same way you beat everyone else, run your 10 hurdles better and faster than the other seven lanes."

The women's pole vault in Stockholm and London will also feature the two top-ranked performers in the world. Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, the current Olympic and world champion, set a world record 5.03 meters at the Golden League meet in Rome on July 11. Jenn Stuczynski set an American record 4.92 meters on July 6 at the trials. The duel against Isinbayeva marks Stuczynski's return to competition since the trials.

On the day she competes in Stockholm, Stuczynski's hometown of Fredonia, N.Y., will start selling red, white and blue yard signs proclaiming Stuczynski as the town's first Olympian, according to her hometown newspaper the Post-Journal.

The Herculis Super Grand Prix in Monaco on July 29 offers the last chance for track and field athletes to fine-tune their talents in competition before the Beijing games. WCSN.com will provide live broadcast coverage of the Stockholm, London and Monaco meets.

World-record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica will battle former world-record holder and compatriot Asafa Powell in the 100 meters. Other runners in the event include Beijing Olympic qualifiers Darvis Patton of the United States, Michael Frater of Jamaica, Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas and Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist.

It's the first of two high profile races for Powell, who is recovering from a groin injury. He is also scheduled to race against 100-meter world champion Tyson Gay at the London meet.

The women's 100 in Stockholm will mark the first time the three U.S. Olympic qualifiers in the event will compete head to head since the Olympic trials and could be the most hotly contested race of the meet. Torri Edwards, who finished second to Muna Lee at the trials, still leads the world with 10.78. Lee boasts a year's best 10.85, and Lauryn Williams, who finished third at the trials, has run 10.90. Shelly-Ann Frasier (10.85) and Sharone Simpson (10.87), who finished second and third at the Jamaican Olympic trials, are also scheduled to run in Stockholm.

American Olympic trials champion Sanya Richards, ranked third in the world at 49.86, will run against Amantle Montsho of Botswana, the world leader at 49.83. World-leader Lolo Jones (12.45), another Olympic trials champion, will line up against Jamaican Olympic trials champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton, who is ranked fourth in the world (12.50). In the men's 400 meters, Olympic champion and world leader Jeremy Wariner (43.86) will face Chris Brown of the Bahamas (third in the world, 44.60) and fellow Beijing qualifier from the United States David Neville, who is fourth in the world (44.61).

The three Americans who qualified for Beijing in the shot put own the top three marks in the world this year. Adam Nelson (22.11 meters), trials champion Reese Hoffa (22.10 meters) and Christian Cantwell (21.76 meters) will try to hold off Dorian Scott of Jamaica, fourth in the world at 21.45 meters.

Other Beijing bound athletes expected to compete in Stockholm include Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, the world and Olympic champion in the 5,000 meters and Blanka Vlasic, the world leader (2.06 meters) and world champion in the women's high jump.

Oliver considers his race in Stockholm as nothing more than a tuneup for Beijing. "The biggest obstacles this year were/are the Olympic trials and the Olympic games," he said.

"It doesn't matter if I run 12.9 here and turn around and run 13.9 at the trials [in Beijing] and finish last. But I will I have to be considered a favorite to come away with a medal if I do exactly what I've been doing."



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