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Fredricks, Dibaba star attractions

October 27, 2003 18:31 IST

Veteran Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericks and 5000 metres World champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia will be the star attractions along with Indian long jump heroine Anju Bobby George in the Afro-Asian Games athletics competition, beginning in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

But the catch is no one, including the organizers, knows which foreigners will be competing at the GMC Balayogi athletic stadium over the next three days.

Lack of information about the starting lists and competing athletes have left the athletic officials a confused lot. The only certainty is the participation of a 73-member Indian contingent, including Neelam J Singh, Saraswati Saha and Shakti Singh.

But if every thing goes off well, national record holder Anil Kumar will get to compete with Fredericks, a winner of three Olympics silver medals.

The 36-year-old Namibian, who earlier this week denied reports he is quitting after the All Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria, finished second in 100 and 200 metres in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and also won the 200m silver four years later in Atlanta.

He also reigned supreme at the Abuja Games, winning the sprint titles.

Dibaba's became the youngest ever winner in a World Championship when she won the 5000m in Paris, recording a time of 14 minutes, 51.72 seconds.

Sunita Rani, with a timing of 15:41.40 seconds in 1998 in Bangalore, holds the Indian record.

But it is almost certain that Asian dominance will be pronounced though China, Japan and Korea, the continental powers, will be fielding their second strings.

Another star attraction will be Ethiopian Sileshi Sihine, who won the men's 10,000m bronze medal in Paris behind superstar compatriots Kenenisa Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie. Sihine clocked 27:01.44 in Paris while the Asian record is 27:18.28.

Competing in her first event after her historic win in Paris, Anju George should be a cinch for the gold medal in the long jump and also the triple jump, if she competes in it.

The Chennai Customs superintendent has not competed in the triple jump after the National Circuit Meet in New Delhi in 2002 in her effort to concentrate in the long jump.

Neelam J Singh, who became the first Indian to qualify for a final of the World Championship in Paris with an effort that measured 60.33 metres, also stands a good chance of winning the gold medal considering that she won the Asian Games gold in Busan, recording 64.55m.

Sunita Rani, slowly making a comeback after the doping trial that followed her from Busan, has a fair chance of collecting a medal in both the 1500 and 3000 metres.

Though things will be much tougher for the hosts in the 400m and 800m as the expected field is a few rungs above the Indian standards, K M Beenamol and her younger brother K M Binu are capable of springing surprises.

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