At the press conference held on Monday, 10 August 2009, the organizers of the 2009 Zagreb Athletics Grand Prix [:]introduced some of the world’s greatest athletics stars, who will compete at the Mladost Sports Park in Zagreb on 31 August 2009.
After a welcome address by Tomislav Sepec, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, and Ivana Brkljacic, Meeting Director, the new Meeting Manager Daniel Wessfeldt shared the most interesting information.
„I would first like to say that Zagreb is very popular with athletes and many are asking themselves about the possibility to participate in this meeting. We will have 16 events, seven men’s and nine women’s. The latest changes have been the men’s 400m hurdles instead of the men’s 400m flat and most probably the women’s 3000m instead of the women’s 200m sprint.“
After the introductory news, Wessfeldt introduced the stars who will compete in a few events.
„The men’s 110m hurdles is always important for Zagreb, and you will be flattered to hear that the world record holder and World Champion Dayron Robles contacted us himself and asked to participate in this year’s meeting. His main competitor will be US hurdler David Oliver, Olympic bronze medallist from Beijing and at this moment the second in the world with the result of 13.09 seconds. He did not race at the US World Championships Trials due to injury and this is why he will be extremely motivated at other competitions to prove that he belongs to the world’s top. Olympic Champion Dawn Harper is coming back to race in the women’s high hurdles; her competition will be Lolo Jones, the world’s fastest this year with 12.47, Lacena Golding-Clarke and Anay Tejeda.
The low hurdles races will also be extremely interesting. The women’s event is expected to be especially promising.
„Lashinda Demus ran 52.63 in Monaco about ten days ago and showed that she might break Yulia Pechonkina’s world record (52.34) soon, and we hope that this might happen in Zagreb. We have prepared a bonus for her and all others who might break world records. Zagreb will be her first and one of the few races after Berlin, and we believe that her excellent form might culminate exactly here. In the men’s event, the three currently highest ranking athletes will run at Zagreb – the 2005 World Champion Bershawn Jackson, L. J. Van Zyl and Isa Phillips.
Then we turned to the field, where the men’s shotput will be one of the highlights.
„You already know that Olympic Champion Tomasz Majewski is coming to Zagreb, and now we also have the best US shotputters Rees Hoffa and Christian Cantwell. I don’t know how the shotput final will turn out at the World Championships, but we will have a rerun in Zagreb, and some of them will get a chance for a rematch. Of course, Croatia’s best shotputters Nedzad Mulabegovic and Marin Premeru will be here, as well. In the men’s hammer throw, Croatia’s Andras Haklits will compete against the best two from Beijing, Primoz Kosmus and Krisztian Pars. In the women’s discus throw, we have the Olympic Champion Stephanie Brown Trafton. She will also be challenged by Croatia’s best throwers – Sandra Perkovic and Vera Begic.
The women’s high jump is also a special event for Zagreb and Croatia that adore the current World Champion Blanka Vlasic.
Last year, Blanka and Ana Chicherova staged a fantastic competition, in which both cleared over 204 cm and this is why we are bringing the Russian high jumper again. Unfortunately, it is impossible to expect Ariane Friedrich here, because an annual high jump competition will take place in the German city of Eberstadt at the same time.
Wessfeldt singled out another event during his stay in Zagreb:
„The women’s triple jump will also be very strong. Tatiana Lebedeva and Yargiles Savigne guarantee a spectacle. And there will be more US and Russian jumpers.“
He also gave the press a few pieces of information regarding the next year’s meeting, which will be especially important, because it will be the 60th anniversary of the oldest one-day sporting event in Croatia. It should be held a few days before or after the World Cup, which will take place in Split on 4 and 5 September 2010.