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Cuba's Robles the clear favorite in Lille

26 June 2008

New 110-meter world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba headlines the latest IAAF Grand Prix, the 14th Lille Metropole Gaz de France Region Nord/Pas-de-Calais meet, Friday in France.

The event, organized by the European Athletics Association, is one of a select group of area meetings where athletes can qualify for the IAAF World Athletics Final on Sept. 13-14 in Stuttgart, Germany.

The Lille meet will be Robles' second competition since running a world-record 12.87 June 12 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. On June 15, the 21-year-old Robles ran a winning 13.48 in rainy conditions at a meet in Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France.

Robles' competitors in the hurdles include Serhiy Demydyuk of Ukraine, a finalist at the 2007 world championships in Osaka who finished third in Robles' world-record race on June 12.

In the 1,500 meters, Frenchman Mehdi Baala, who has run a personal best 3:28.98 and is a member of the Lille Metropole Club, will run a race for only the third time this season.

Christine Arron of France, the 2005 world champion bronze medalist in the 100 meters and the European record holder, will open her 2008 outdoor season in Lille. The 34-year-old, who will compete for France in the Beijing Olympics, delayed her season debut due to injury. European champion Kim Gevaert of Belgium, who is scheduled to run for the eighth time in Lille, will challenge Arron.

The men's 100 meters will feature Kim Collins of Saint Kitts & Nevis, the 2003 world champion in the event, and Tyron Edgar of Great Britain, who ran a personal best 10.06 this year and won the European Cup last weekend in 10.20 into a 1.8 mph headwind.

Marlon Devonish of Great Britain will double in the 100 and 200 meters on Friday. In the longer race, Devonish will challenge Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe, the fastest of the field this year with 20.17.

The men's 400 meters includes Frenchman Leslie Djhone, who finished fifth at the 2007 world championships in 44.46 for a French record.

Yohann Diniz of France, the European 50-kilometer race-walk champion and the silver medalist at the 2007 world championships, will compete in the 5,000-meter race walk.

Mohamed Salman al Khuwalidi, the Asian record holder outdoors (8.48 meters) and indoors (8.24 meters) will be the favorite in the men's long jump in the absence of the injured Salim Sdiri of France.

In the women's triple jump, Olympic champion Francoise Mbango from Cameroon should duel French national record holder Tereza Nzola Meso Ba.

The most contested throw event should be the women's hammer throw. It features Poland's 2000 Olympic champion Kamila Skolimowska, two-time world champion (2001, 2003) Yipsi Moreno of Cuba, as well as the two best French throwers, Manuela Montebrun and Stephanie Falzon.

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