A look at some of the latest results and updates from around the world, including news that Jessica Ennis-Hill has been forced to withdraw from the Gotzis Hypo Meeting
Van Niekerk 44.11
The 400m world champion Wayde van Niekerk created headlines on the opening day of the South African Open Championships in Bloemfontein as he won his heat in 44.11, the second fastest time of the year.
He later withdrew from the semi-finals as a precaution against a back injury due to the cool afternoon conditions.
“We wanted to see if we were on schedule, in preparation for the European season,” said Van Niekerk’s coach, Ans Botha. “The conditions for the heats were nice and warm without wind, and I expected a low-44, so we’re happy.”
It is the third-best ever first-round time, only Yousef Al-Masrahi and Rusheen McDonald, who both clocked 43.93 last year in Beijing in their heat, have gone faster.
Initially a hand-timed 43.88 was reported for Van Niekerk’s run.
Lindsay Hanekom was also in fine form, improving at 400m hurdles to a 49.03 PB and Rio standard. Henricho Bruintjies won the men’s 100m final in 10.21.
Ennis-Hill to miss Gotzis Hypo Meeting
Olympic and world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill has pulled out of the Gotzis Hypo Meeting on May 28-29.
The IAAF wrote on Twitter: “Organisers of the #HypoMeeting in Gotzis have confirmed that Jessica Ennis-Hill has been forced to withdraw from this year’s competition.”
In the Dutch team for the event is Beijing heptathlon fourth-placer Nadine Broersen, plus Nadine Visser and Anouk Vetter. In the decathlon, Pieter Braun and Pelle Riedtveld compete.
Hejnova out of Doha
Czech 400m hurdles world champion Zuzana Hejnova was a late withdrawal from the Doha Diamond League opener.
Although she was there she could not run due to pain in her Achilles.
“I do not want to risk and decided not to run. It is an Olympic year,” she said, quoted on federation website atletika.cz.
“I hope it is nothing serious,” Hejnova added.
World Race Walking Team Championships
On the eve of the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in Rome, IAAF General Secretary Jean Gracia was delighted with the local organising committee’s efforts in staging a world-class event at short notice.
LOC president Alfio Giomi outlined the reasons why Italy was keen to stage the event. “For us, race walking is like a religion; it’s our symbol of athletics,” he said.
“We have so many world and Olympic champions in this discipline. This event will be a celebration of Italy’s long-standing tradition in race walking.
“Athletes will start at the Arch of Constantine near the Colosseum and will be racing past the Terme di Caracalla.”
Chinese women’s favorite Liu Hong believes she is home from home when she steps out on the streets of Rome.
“It’s not very easy to walk under 1:25:00, and I had a little cold before Rome,” she said. “My condition is not as good as it was last year. I don’t know how fast I can walk, but I will do my best.”
Eleonora Giorgi, the Italian home favourite, is one race walker who won’t lack support on the course tomorrow. Her family – including aunts, uncles, cousins and her own athletics club supporters – will have banners and whistles to offer encouragement all the way round the 20km course.
It will be interesting as the main walking force Russia is not competing and home star Alex Schwazer is returning after a doping ban.
The organisers are dedicating the event to its 1997 world champion Annarita Sidoti, who died of breast cancer last year aged 45.
Golden Grand Prix
Justin Gatlin is among the entries for the Golden Grand Prix in Kawasaki on May 8. The American is the only sprinter in the field with a sub-10 second 100m PB – 9.74, with China’s Zhang Peimeng the second fastest with 10.00.
Local interest will be focused on talented youngsters Yoshihide Kiryu (10.01 PB) and double world youth champion Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (10.28 PB) who will clash for the first time.
An excellent field has been put together for the women’s equivalent with Blessing Okagbare (10.79 PB), world long jump champion Tianna Baroletta (10.85) and world indoor champion Barbara Pierre (10.85) the leading names.
Bartoletta will also be competing in the long jump against Australian record-holder Brooke Stratton, who leads the world rankings with 7.05m.
Chinese athletes are expected to dominate the field events through Zhang Guowei and Wang Yu in the high jump, Wang Jianan, Huang Changzhou, Gao Xinglong in the long jump and Li Yanmei in the women’s triple jump, but world champion Shawn Barber starts as the outright favourite in the pole vault. World leader Jakub Vadlejch also starts in the javelin.
Also on the track, former world and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner competes in the 400m fresh from a good leg at the Penn Relays against Renny Quow and Jarrin Solomon, world junior 1500m record-holder Ronald Kwemoi competes in the 3000m while Kenyans are also expected to dominate the steeplechase courtesy of Rosefline Chepngetich, Fancy Cherotich and Caroline Chepkirui.
There might be a rare home victory on the track in the men’s 200m with Kenji Fujimitsu, who ran 20.13 last year, among the favourites.
Jamaica International Invitational
One of the highlights of the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston will be the women’s 200m between world and Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the in-form world 400m silver medallist Shaunae Miller. Miller, who won this meet last year in 22.14, has already clocked 11.19 for 100m and 49.69 for 400m this year but hasn’t contested a 200m this season.
World 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson steps down to the 100m where she will face Americans English Gardner and Jenna Prandini, who holds the world-leading mark with 10.95.
Americans will be strong in the men’s 100m with Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers, but opposition will come from Commonwealth champion and home favourite Kemar Bailey-Cole and veteran Kim Collins. Meanwhile, Asafa Powell will be making a rare appearance over 200m, where Andre de Grasse is a late withdrawal.
World 100m hurdles champion Danielle Williams will be looking for victory on home soil but faces top American opposition from Dawn Harper-Nelson, Sharika Nelvis, Brianna Rollins plus European champion Tiffany Porter.
Other highlights on the track: Michael Tinsley vs Bershawn Jackson in the 400m hurdles and a strong women’s 400m including Christine Ohuruogu against leading Jamaicans Christine Day, Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Novelene Williams-Mills and Francena McCorory from the United States.
The long jump has Shara Proctor vs Janay De Loach, Jeneva Stevens is in shot put and hammer, but in the latter she is facing world leader Gwen Berry.
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