• Warholm and Lasitskene in the Spotlight at the 100th ISTAF Berlin on Sunday
BERLIN ISTAF turns 100 – and it’s time to celebrate this milestone: up to 25,000 fans and many world class athletes will make the party go with a swing. Malaika Mihambo, Mariya Lasitskene, Valarie Allman, Karsten Warholm, Johannes Vetter, Kristin Pudenz, Gesa Krause and Konstanze Klosterhalfen will be competing in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday (supporting programme begins at 1435) as well as Paralympic stars Johannes Floors and Niko Kappel and other well-known performers. Live Television coverage of the anniversary party will be provided by ZDF from 1700 to 1855. Tickets can still be bought by phone on the ISTAF Tickethotline +4930.301118630 and online at the Ticketshop at www.tickets.istaf.de.
“We are looking forward to a very special ISTAF, seeing so many great athletes in action and in these difficult times want to offer our fans a memorable anniversary event,” says the meeting director Martin Seeber. On July 3, 1921 the Berlin SC, Charlottenburg SC and the Poseidon Swimming Club organised what was the first international stadium meeting in the old Grunewald Stadium – with athletics and swimming events. Martin Seeber: “Founded in the wild years of the 1920s in what was then the newly created area of Greater Berlin, established after the 1936 Olympic Games, reborn after World War Two, based on the idea of international community, affected by the Cold War, developed further thanks to technological innovation and given fresh impetus and joy through the fall of the Wall: ISTAF has in the last 100 years reflected the history of Germany and Berlin. Centre stage has always been athletes from around the world, cheered on by the fair-minded and internationally aware Berlin public.”
Aleksander Dzembritzki, State Secretary for Sport for the Berlin region: “100 years of ISTAF in the second year of the pandemic have a particularly significance for sport in our city. Great sporting events with the unique Berlin public are returning to public life and shall continue to be a core part of sport in the city of Berlin! ISTAF with its outstanding blend of elite sport and a stage for talented up and coming performers has long been a legendary sports event for which we are rightly the envy of many. We are delighted to support this traditional Berlin meeting as part of our programme for “City of Sport Campaign.”
“The anniversary is crying out for a fifth ISTAF win in Succession”
Anticipation is naturally high among the athletes: “100 years! People all around the world look up to and envy ISTAF,” reflected Johannes Vetter, the 2019 World javelin champion. “The anniversary is crying out for a fifth win in succession from me. I’m really looking forward to Berlin – for a great end to the season which also mean it will be the start of the holidays and once again setting free incredible power.” On Sunday Vetter will face strong competition including his fellow Germans Julian Weber and Bernhard Seifert.
Olympic Champion Malaika Mihambo renews Rivalry
Excitement is guaranteed in the long jump pit when Germany’s Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo takes on a strong international field. At last year’s ISTAF Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, the reigning European Indoor champion, beat Mahambo but the Ukrainian finished fifth in Tokyo. Also competing will be the Briton Jazmin Sawyers and Khaddi Sagnia of Sweden, eighth and ninth in the Tokyo Olympic final respectively.
“It’s a big thrill for me to be in Berlin for the 100th Birthday Party”
A golden lustre shines around the men’s 400m hurdles: the extraordinary Karsten Warholm returns to Berlin after the 25-year-old Norwegian smashed the world record to win the Olympic title with a sensational time of 45.94. “It’s a big thrill for me to be in Berlin for the 100th birthday party,” said Warholm who only just missed the world record in an extraordinary race on the Olympic Stadium’s blue track a year ago. As for young talent on the rise, watch for Berlin’s very own Emil Agyekum, silver medallist at the European U-23 Championships.
High Jump Stars take off in Berlin
Fans gathered around the high jump curve in the arena can look forward to a top-class treat of competition. Mariya Lasitskene, the Russian who competes under the banner of Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANO), winner of the Olympic gold, and Australia’s Nicola McDermott, silver medallist in Tokyo, will renew their rivalry leap for the heights at the world’s oldest athletics meeting once again. Both are in top form. Last Wednesday Lasitskene came out on top in the Diamond League Final in Zurich with 2.05m but McDermott also showed excellent form with 2.01m. Also watch out for Iryna Gerashchenko. The Ukrainian finished fourth in the Olympic final.
Repeat of Olympic Final and Top German Trio in Women’s Discus
It’s also a case of Olympic Repeat in the women’s discus where gold medallist meets silver. The Olympic champion Valarie Allman of the USA competes against the surprise silver medallist, Germany’s Kristin Pudenz from nearby Potsdam. There will be a strong local representation since Pudenz’s compatriots Marike Steinacker, eighth in the Tokyo final, one place ahead of another ISTAF participant, Claudine Vita and Berlin’s Julia Harting will be stepping into the discus circle.
Konstanze Klosterhalfen returns after 771 days: “It’s like coming back home”
One of Germany’s top women runners returns! After 25 months, 771 days, to be precise, Konstanze Klosterhalfen is racing again at home when she competes in the anniversary edition of ISTAF in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday. On August 3, 2019 she improved the national record for 5,000m by over 15 seconds with her time of 14:26.76 on the famous blue track, winning the German title into the bargain. “It’s super that I can be part of ISTAF’s anniversary edition. It feels as if I am coming home,” said the 24-year-old who lives and trains in the USA. She will face strong African opposition, including the Ethiopian Axumait Embaye.
Gesa Krause – Goosebumps again?
Among the highlights of the 100 years of ISTAF is Gesa Krause’s record in the 2,000m steeplechase. Wide-eyed and feeling goosebumps, 40,500 fans cheered Krause on as she led into the final lap – and she kept going at that pace for the fastest every victory lap in ISTAF history. She had achieved a piece of history, improving not only her German record but the world best for what is admittedly a less often run distance in the steeplechase of 5:52.80. This Sunday Krause will run the more usual distance of the 3,000m steeplechase. Her rivals include the Ethiopian Zerfe Wondemagegn and the 2019 German champion Elena Burkhard.
Olympic Champions against Germany’s Best
The pace is guaranteed to be scorching on the track in front of the Olympic Stadium’s grandstand. In the men’s 100m the Ivorian record holder Arthur Cissé, winner of both sprints at the ISTAF Indoors earlier this year will line up against the American Marvin Bracy as the two leading contenders. Also on his blocks will be the fastest German this year, Julian Wagner. In the women’s 100m two of Jamaica’s relay gold medallists will be in action: Briana Williams and Natasha Morrison. The latter ran in the heats in Tokyo as Jamaica progressed to the final. Also watch for rising German talent in Lily Kaden, the European U-23 champion and the silver medallist at that championship, Rani Rosius of Belgium.
In the women’s 100m hurdles a world-class duel is in prospect. The double European indoor champion Nadine Visser of the Netherlands is in cracking form, having twice broken her own national record. only last Thursday (September), she ran 12.51 as runner-up in the Diamond League Final in Zurich, having improved her national mark with 12.58 in Paris on August 28. The American Christina Clemons (formerly Manning) has the same personal best at the Dutch sprint hurdler, also set this year. In the men’s 110m hurdles, Ronald Levy comes to Berlin in strong form, since the Olympic bronze medallist ran a season’s best of 13.06 for second place in Zurich on Thursday.
Sam Kendricks against Olympic silver medallist and Philippine Record Holder in Pole Vault
The American Sam Kendricks had miserable luck in Tokyo. The double world champion in the pole vault, a popular figure with the Berlin fans, had to withdraw from Games before the athletics began following a positive test for the Corona Virus. Here at ISTAF he can always expect strong opposition and this year is no exception with his compatriot Christopher Nielsen, the silver medallist in Tokyo, Poland’s Piotr Lisek, Bo Kanda Lita Baehre of Germany and the Asian champion Ernest John Obiena from the Philippines. The latter won the event at the ISTAF INDOOR earlier this year, setting a national record of 5.80m. He went even higher in the current outdoor season, taking the national record to 5.91m in Paris.
Paralympic Stars at ISTAF
After the successes of Tokyo the ISTAF organisers have included the shot put in the Paralympic schedule with Niko Kappel a star name. On the track, the world record holder Johannes Floors competes as newly crowned Paralympic 100m champion in the bilateral lower limb amputee category, having clocked 10.79. As Floors says, he’s the “Fastest man on no legs. That sounds great, I’ll take that.” Among his rivals will be the Tokyo Paralympic silver medallist in the event, Oliver Hendriks of the Netherlands. Local athlete Ali Lacin makes his debut at ISTAF after taking the bronze in the 200m in Tokyo.
Niko Kappel versus strong American challenge
A bronze medal was also the reward for the German shot putter Niko Kappel in Tokyo, who competes in the F41 category and threw 13.30m. Can Kappel repeat his win here of last year. From the USA comes Hagan Landry, the Tokyo silver medallist. Also included in the men’s shot put are competitors in the F40 category and they include Yannis Fischer from Germany, just 19 and sixth in Tokyo.
“Enormous Influence on the historical Development of Athletics”
World Athletics, the world governing body of athletics, has described the ISTAF meeting as “The world’s oldest invitational one-day meeting.” Founded in 1921, it has been awarded the “World Athletics Heritage Plaque” with the citation of “Enormous Influence on the historical Development of Athletics.”
81 ISTAF Meetings – 15 World Records
On July 3, 1921 the sports clubs of Berlin SC, SC Charlottenburg and the Poseidon Swimming Club jointly organised the first international stadium meeting in the then Grunewald Stadium. 20,000 spectators experienced thrilling competition which also included swimming events. In 1937 the first ISTAF meeting was held in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, one year after the Olympic Games in Berlin. 85,000 spectators were held in thrall by a World record and two European records.
In the constantly evolving and emotionally moving history of ISTAF there have been 81 editions, including that of 2021, and 15 world records broken. In the meantime, ISTAF INDOOR has been established to add to the history of ISTAF with the Indoor meeting in the Mercedes-Benz Arena becoming the biggest in the world. It was not the first “Indoor ISTAF” in fact. In the past this version of ISTAF has been held in the Grunewald Stadium, the Olympic Stadium, the Mommsen Stadium, the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportspark, the stadium in Zehlendorf and the Deutschlandhalle. Since 2014 the Mercedes-Benz Arena has been the venue and in 2021 an extra meeting was added with ISTAF INDOOR also taking place in the PSD BANK DOME in Düsseldorf.