The audience in the sold-out Letzigrund Stadium can expect a unique post-championship showdown at Weltklasse Zürich on Friday. Four world record holders, 16 newly-crowned world champions and 14 2008 Olympic champions, as well as many medal winners will be lining up in the meeting's programme of 16 events.
Meeting Director Patrick K. Magyar looks forward to the 2009 edition of Weltklasse Zürich: „Our stars are healthy and well rested. And we are hoping for good weather. Everything is ready for an outstanding night of athletics."
Five days after the world championships, not only 16 world champions and eight additional relay champions, will compete in the Letzigrund Stadium: "In addition, to the Berlin champions, many top athletes have travelled to Zurich, who would like to make amends after the championships. The clashes of champions and challengers represent a promise for many exciting competitions at the highest level."
Each Event a Highlight
Weltklasse Zürich has once again followed its long-time philosophy to invite as many top-ranked athletes per event as possible, rather than concentrate on one or two big names. "Therefore, each and every competition at Weltklasse Zürich represents a genuine highlight", explained Patrick Magyar.
The world's elite of athletics will compete tomorrow night: world record holders Usain Bolt (100m/JAM), Kenenisa Bekele (5000m/ETH), and Yelena Isinbayeva (PV/RUS) in their main events, and 3000m SC world record holder Gulnara Galkina (RUS) will run in the 1500m.
Usain Bolt Ready for More Spectacular Racing
Usain Bolt, who has been resting in Zurich after a demanding schedule in Berlin, will face former world record holder and fellow-countryman Asafa Powell, among others. He will decide whether he will join the Jamaican team for 4x100m Zurich Trophy only after his 100m race. While the Jamaicans have taken over from the once dominating US relay team at championships, the US sprinters still won the last two editions of the Zurich Trophy.
Yelena Isinbayeva Out for Redemption
Unlike Bolt, with whom she was elected Athlete of the Year in 2008, Isinbayeva finds herself in the rare position of being the 'challenger' in her event after her no-height performance in Berlin. She will face the six top athletes of the world championships in the Letzigrund Stadium again, trying to reclaim her leading role in pole vault.
Four Athletes Still in the Hunt for the Golden League Jackpot
Isinbayeva is one of four athletes still in contention for the Golden League Jackpot. In addition to her, 100m sprinter Kerron Stewart (JAM), 400m superstar Sanya Richards (USA), and long distance hero Kenenisa Bekele will try to defend their share of the one-million-dollar prize.
After her world championship triumph, Sanya Richards is targeting her fifth consecutive win in Zurich. Kerron Stewart, has won all her 2009 Golden League races so far, but lost to her fellow countrywoman and Olympic Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser in Berlin. Kenenisa Bekele, unbeaten in his events since 28 July 2006, as well, requires two more wins before he can add the prestigious Golden League Jackpot to his impressive list of honours.
Many events are wide open: In the 100m h, as many as five athletes could prevail in Zurich: In addition to the three medallists of Berlin, world champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton (JAM), Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (CAN), and Delloreen Ennis-London (JAM), Olympic champion Dawn Harper and world leader LoLo Jones (USA), who won Zurich last year, have to be considered favourites for the race. In the men's high hurdles, Terrence Trammell (USA) and David Payne (USA), who both missed the title by an eyelash, will challenge surprise winner Ryan Braithwaite.
The women's high jump will feature another duel between world champion Blanka Vlasic (CRO) and the world leading athlete Ariane Friedrich (GER), with the silver medallist from Berlin, Anna Chicherova (RUS) possibly even resuming her role as a spoilsport. Another epic duel will continue in the men's 400m: Jeremy Wariner (USA) will once again be challenging LaShawn Merritt (USA) after his defeat in Berlin. The 400m field also includes the likes of Kerron Clement (400mh world champion/USA), and Angelo Taylor (400m h Olympic champion/USA).
The results in middle and long distance races had suffered after tiring journeys from the world championships and Olympic Games in Asia in the last two years. "This year, the scenario is entirely different", explained Bettina Borner. "The athletes are in top shape and have requested fast races." In the 800m, world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (RSA) will have to shake off five world championship finalists, who have run faster than him in the current season. 1500m world champion Yusuf Saad Kamel (BRN) will face two strong opponents with world leader Augustine Kiprono Choge (KEN), as well as Olympic champion (Asbel Kiprop (KEN). In the women's 1500m, Switzerland-base Maryam Jamal will be targeting her third consecutive 'home win'. Kenya's steeplechase elite, including world champion Ezekiel Kemboi, Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto, and 2008 Weltklasse Zürich winner Paul Kipsiele Koech will line up against the French European record holder and world championship bronze medallist Bouabdellah Tahri. Tahri, who improved his own European record to 8:01.18 in Berlin, could be the first European to break the magic eight-minute barrier - 14 years after Moses Kiptanui did the same as the first man in Zurich.
Nicole Büchler, the Swiss pole vault record holder, and the members of the Swiss 4x100m relay team will give it their best at Weltklasse Zürich. Due to a meniscal injury, javelin thrower Stefan Müller had to cancel his participation. The young Swiss 100m h talent Lisa Urech will lead the U23 team during the Nations' Challenge prior to the meeting's international programme of events. Marco Cribari, who placed 21st in the 200m at the world championships, will compete for the Zurich team. A very special farewell race will round off the evening: Heinz Frei will compete in his very last wheelchair race on the track. The charismatic star and 14-time Paralympics champion will be challenged by some of the best male competitors on 3000m, and a strong female line-up covering 2600m. The field will of course will include Edith Hunkeler, who will be making her Weltklasse Zürich debut.