BERLIN. ISTAF’s renowned capacity for putting on a fast, action-packed show looks set for another high-quality performance as some of the world’s top athletes get ready to display their talents on the famous blue track of the Olympic stadium. Sprint hurdle aces Tobi Amusan and Grant Holloway, Karsten Warholm over the one lap hurdles, Noah Lyles in the 100, home favourite and Olympic and World long jump champion Malaika Mihambo and Olympic discus champion Valarie Allman offer the prospect of track and field delight.
The ISTAF meeting director Martin Seeber anticipates a special vibe in the stadium on Sunday, as an expected 30,000 fans celebrate an extraordinary year of athletics: “The demand has been huge thanks to the great success of the European Championships. We want to have a wild party of track and field with many outstanding performers and the fans all fired-up. We’re delighted that so many stars of the highest calibre want to compete. Berlin, ISTAF, the Olympic Stadium – that combination is a big draw.”
From an athlete’s perspective, the newly crowned European javelin champion Julian Weber, a home town contender in Berlin, reflected on Sunday’s competition and recent months: “In this very special year of athletics, ISTAF is like a spectacular encore with the greatest hits.”
Men’s Events: Holloway, Warholm, Lyles
Grant Holloway retained his world title in the 110m hurdles in Eugene and the American has shown good form since then. His strongest challenger could well be the experienced Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the European silver medallist in Munich. Norway’s world record holder Karsten Warholm returns for his third ISTAF appearance. The Olympic champion showed he was back in form after lengthy injury by winning the European 400m hurdles title last month. Turkey’s Yasmani Copello, the European bronze medallist, looks the pick of the other contenders.
Noah Lyles from the USA is one of track and field’s great showmen. He drops down to the 100m in Berlin, having retained his 200m title at the World Championships. He’s no slouch at the shorter sprint either, with a best of 9.86. The international aspect of group training is well proven by the story of how Noah Lyles comes to race at ISTAF: he and the German sprinter Gina Lückenkemper are in coach Lance Braumann’s squad, based at Clermont in Florida. In conversation at the World Championships, Lyles said he’d love to run post-championships in a great meeting with a “cool atmosphere.” Lückenkemper, European 100m gold medallist last month, advised that he need look no further than ISTAF. She herself will be helping out with organisers’ social media team on Sunday, since injuries sustained in Munich prevent her from sprinting.
In the pole vault, Ernest John Obiena, the World Championship bronze medallist and Philippines’ record holder, is the top performer going into the competition with his best of 5.94m. Two European champions and members of the same German club in Mainz meet in the javelin: Julian Weber is the specialist with a best of 89.54m, having won European gold last month. Niklas Kaul won not only the decathlon in Munich, prior to that success he won the world title in the same event in Eugene in late July.
Women’s Events: Amusan, Mihambo, Allman
Tobi Amusan of Nigeria competes in the 100m hurdles, having broken the world record in Eugene with a stunning 12.12 en route to winning the world title. Among her rivals is the rising American star, Tia Jones and Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper. The long jump renews the rivalry of the home favourite, Malaika Mihambo, the Olympic and World champion, and Nigeria’s Ese Brume, the World championship silver medallist. Last year’s ISTAF event winner, the Briton Jazmin Sawyers also arrives in good form, having taken a bronze medal in Munich. Guaranteed plenty of support will also be the Ukrainian Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk. She won the triple jump at the Europeans but is genuine contender in the long jump, as shown by her World Championship silver medal in 2019.
Valarie Allman arrives in the discus circle as the World Championship bronze medallist and Olympic champion from Tokyo last year. The German challenge is led by Kristin Pudenz, the European silver medallist from nearby Potsdam, and Claudine Vita, who took the bronze in Munich. The women’s discus should also be a memorable occasion as it marks the final competition of Nadine Müller. At the age of 36 and a career encompassing a World bronze, a European Championship silver and sixth place in the Olympics, the police officer will compete internationally for the last time.
The following events will be staged in the Olympic stadium: Women: 100m, 400m, 5000m, 100m hurdles, Long Jump, Discus; Men: 100m, 400m, 1500m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, High Jump, Pole Vault, Javelin, Para-Shot Put.
Further information can be obtained at www.istaf.de