Thursday, August 12, 2010

Former world champion Brad Walker returns to big-time competition at Aviva London Grand Prix..

LONDON, England--2007 IAAF world pole vault champion Brad Walker (left/photo by Paul Merca) from Mountlake Terrace makes his return to big-time competition Friday on day 1 of the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, part of the Samsung Diamond League series of meets.

Walker's last major competition occurred July 28, 2009 at the Herculis Meeting in Monaco, when he landed partly off the mat, causing his hips to hit the ground, resulting in trauma to his public symphis joint. That injury caused him to withdraw from last year's world championships in Berlin.

Although he was in Des Moines in June, the former University of Washington All-American opted not to compete in the USA Outdoor Championships, where he was supposed to make his 2010 outdoor debut and defend his national title. According to his management agency, Stubbs Management, Walker sat out the USA championships as a precaution.

A number of athletes with Washington ties are scheduled to compete in the two day meet, led by Vancouver's Kara Patterson, who is currently in second place in the race for the Diamond Trophy and $40000 behind reigning Olympic champ Barbora Spotakova in the javelin.

With two meets remaining (London & Zurich), Patterson has to win both meets (the Zurich meet is worth double points; top three finishers in London earn 4-2-1 points) to overtake Spotakova and grab the Diamond Trophy. Spotakova this season has wins in Rome and Monaco, while the Skyview HS grad's lone win in Samsung Diamond League competition came in Eugene at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

Here's a link to the list of winners in the Samsung Diamond League meets so far this season.

Renton HS and University of Washington grad Aretha Thurmond, who currently sits in a tie for fourth place in the women's discus, has an opportunity to leapfrog to sole possession of third place, as Croatia's Sandra Perkovic (2nd) and Australia's Dani Samuels (t4th) are not entered in the Aviva London Grand Prix.

However, a trio of throwers--American Becky Breisch, Poland's Zaneta Glanc, and Romania's Nicoleta Grasu--are nipping at the three time US Olympian's heels, as they are in a tie for sixth with two points, and can tie or overtake Thurmond by finishing in the top three and shutting her out out of a podium finish.

Samsung Diamond League leader Yarelis Barrios of Cuba, who has a commanding lead of 12 points, and third place Nadine Muller of Germany are entered.

After the London meet, the Van Damme meeting in Brussels concludes the Samsung Diamond League race in the discus.

In the women's 100 meter hurdles, the race for the Diamond trophy is now down to two runners--American Lolo Jones & Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, while Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell Crawford sits in a tie for fifth with two points after not making the finals in Stockholm. Crawford, who finished fourth in Lucerne, Switzerland Sunday, looks to rebound after two sub par performances at Diamond League meets in Lausanne & Stockholm.

Fresh off breaking a 28-year old Norwegian record in the 800 meters by running 2:00.82 in Göteborg, Sweden on Tuesday, former Washington Husky Ingvill Måkestad will run the women's 1500 against a strong field that includes current world leader Anna Alminova of Russia. Måkestad came close to setting her PR last week in Stockholm, running 4:04.92, just short of her lifetime best of 4:04.22 set in Paris in July.

While not a Diamond League event, 2007 double world champion and reigning world indoor champ at 3000 meters Bernard Lagat is entered in the men's 3000 on Friday. The Washington State University hall of famer is entered in a field that includes European 5000/10000 champ Mo Farah of Great Britain, former Oregon standout Galen Rupp, and US world cross country team member Bobby Curtis.

Former Husky Märt Israel from Estonia is entered in the men's discus on Saturday, where he hopes to get on the scoreboard in that event, as only six throwers have scored points in five meets this season. Israel, who finished a disappointing ninth at the European Championships, placed fourth in Lucerne on Sunday.

Online coverage of the Aviva London Grand Prix will be provided by Same day highlights of the meet will be shown on Universal Sports (channel 115 on Seattle area Comcast).

The start lists for the Aviva London Grand Prix can be accessed here.

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