Top fields and hot weather: The ISTAF in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium provides a true dress rehearsal for the World Championships in Doha, which start on September 27. In 16 events the best German athletes will take on a number of international stars. Among the top names competing at the ISTAF are Pole Vaulters Sam Kendricks and Armand Duplantis, Javelin Throwers Thomas Röhler and Johannes Vetter, sprint hurdlers Omar McLeod and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, long jumpers Malaika Mihambo and Ivana Spanovic as well as Gesa Krause in the Steeplechase.
More than 37,000 tickets have already been sold for Germany’s most prestigious athletics meeting, which is part of the IAAF World Challenge Series. For a number of athletes the ISTAF provides a final opportunity to qualify for the World Championships. For others it is a true test as temperatures are expected to soar to slightly over 30 Celsius on Sunday in the German capital.
“In just one afternoon we shall be offering fans top drawer athletics and the best Germans against top performers from around the world. Spectators can experience 16 world-class contests. The deadline for World Championship qualifying closes a few days after ISTAF. Many stars are going to be going all out one more time, for some ISTAF will perhaps be their last chance to jump on board the train for the World Championships. The weather should also play a role. With Berlin’s fantastic fans we want to turn the 78th edition of ISTAF into a World Championships turbo-charger for the athletes,“ said ISTAF’s Meeting Director Martin Seeber.
Late silver medal for Ariane Friedrich
For one exceptional sportswoman the meeting will be an emotional highlight ten years after “her” World Championships. Germany’s high jumper Ariane Friedrich, now 35, will receive, retrospectively, the silver medal from the 2009 World Championships in the Olympic Stadium. The Russian athlete who finished ahead of her, Anna Chicherova, was disqualified for doping in February 2018.
“I am so looking forward to ISTAF,” said Ariane Friedrich, who wanted to have the retrospective ceremony at Germany’s oldest athletics meeting. “Of course it would have been better if nobody had taken drugs and I would have experienced all this in 2009. The fact that I am now going to receive the medal retrospectively at ISTAF is a happy ending and perfect culmination.” She has „a special affinity to ISTAF and the Olympic Stadium”. Friedrich explained: “It was at ISTAF in 2008 that I first jumped two metres outdoors and in 2009 I set the German record – and afterwards won the World Championship medal in Berlin.” The athlete from the Thuringian region still holds the German outdoor record with 2.06m. On Sunday Ariane Friedrich will be presented with the silver medal by Jon Ridgeon, Chief Executive Officer of the IAAF.
Expected highlights: Men’s events
The pole vault and the javelin throw could well produce extraordinary results on Sunday. The top three vaulters in the world at present will be on the runway and this trio are the only men to have cleared six metres this season: Sam Kendricks of the USA, who has a season’s best of 6.06m, Piotr Lisek of Poland, whose height of 6.02m this year is a Polish record and the European champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden who has done 6.00m this year. Duplantis won the continental title last year in the Olympic Stadium, when he cleared 6.05m.
The elite of German men’s javelin throwing will be competing: Thomas Röhler, the Olympic and European Champion has a season’s best of 86.99m while the World Champion Johannes Vetter (SB 89.28m) and this year’s national winner Andreas Hofmann (SB 89.65m) will offer stiff competition. All three should be vying for the world title in Doha. “I’m looking forward so much to ISTAF, it will be a top quality competition,” said World champion Johannes Vetter. “I won here in 2016 and 2017 but had to miss the 2018 European Championships and this year’s German Championships. It’s high time to set Berlin rockin’!”
In the 100 m the top name is Andre De Grasse of Canada who is returning to form after lengthy injury, running 9.98 this season. It’s been a long road back since he won Olympic silver in the 200m in Rio in 2016 and bronze in the 100m. Other sub 10 second performers to note are Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryū (PB 9.98), the Commonwealth champion from South Africa, Akani Simbine (PB 9.98) and the Jamaican Tyquendo Tracey (PB 9,96). De Grasse’s fellow Canadian Aaron Brown (PB 9.96) is having an excellent season with three wins in the Diamond League plus beating his rival at the national championships.
In the sprint hurdles European Champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France steps up to compete against Germany’s national champion Gregor Traber. But the favourite should be Omar McLeod of Jamaica. The Olympic and World champion is a late entry to the event. His best for his specialist event is 12.90 and he has also run 9.99 for the 100m, the first man ever to break 13 and 10 seconds respectively.
World and European Champion Andrius Gudžius of Lithuania competes against Berlin’s Olympic Champion Christoph Harting, whose form has been inconsistent recently. Poland’s Piotr Małachowski is among the favourites as well.
Expected highlights: Women’s events
Gesa Krause and the blue track of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium seem to be made for each other. After all, it was here that she won the European steeplechase title a year ago and this season achieved her fifth national title on the same track. At the 2015 ISTAF Krause ran a national record of 6:04.20 for the 2000m steeplechase, also running a national record of 9:11.85 for the more usual distance of 3,000m in 2017. It was this record which she improved to 9:07.51 in Zurich’s Diamond League Final on Thursday night. So coming back to Berlin Krause will be in top shape. She drops down in distance to the 2000m ‘chase once again. Is another German record on the cards?
ISTAF’s back straight in the Olympic Stadium should provide plenty of entertainment for long jump fans. Malaika Mihambo, the European champion and currently world number one, is the top hope for home fans as she takes on a quartet of women who, like her, have jumped seven metres: Ivana Spanovic of Serbia is the 2018 World Indoor gold medallist and 2016 European champion with a best of 7.10m. Alongside her will be the Briton Shara Proctor, third in the Europeans last year (PB 7.07m), Nastasja Sjarhejeuna Mirontschyk-Ivanova of Belarus (PB 7.08m) and the Olympic silver medallist Yelena Sokolova (PB 7.07m) from Russia, who is competing as a neutral athlete.
There will be plenty for the home fans to cheer with the German contingent led by Gina Lückenkemper in the 100m. They will have to be at their best against the fastest woman in the field, China’s Mangi Ge who has run 11.04 this season.
More information about the ISTAF and tickets are available at: www.istaf.de