Hanžek has fulfilled the expectations

Zagreb likes Blanka Vlašić and Blanka Vlašić likes Zagreb and the Zagreb IAAF Grand Prix. Young Split native came second on Tuesday just like the last year and again her duel with Hestrie Cloete, double world champion, has marked the competition. Blanka has again, as she did last year, attacked the two meters level, but again this time she knocked down the bar at that height, yet the South African leveled the meeting record out of second attempt. Only two of them arrived at that magical height while the other high jumpers left the competition at lower heights.

Croatian long jump record holder Siniša Ergotić led the competition after third series with the jump of 7.98 but at the end he finished third behind Bulgarian Atanasov (8.01) and Bahamian jumper Moxey (8.00).

"Little world championship" – as the organizer had been announcing women’s hammer throw, assuring the attendance of four out of ten of this season’s best result hammer throwers. Expectedly, Croatian record holder Ivana Brkljačić could not reach a winning thrown faced with such a competition, yet she came fifth with the throw of 66.74 which she achieved in the first attempt. Russian Kuzenkova (71.91) won the competition which was satisfactory because 7 throws over the 70m limit were realized. Young Chinese Zhang came second, while the actual Olympic winner Skolimowska won a bronze medal. Brkljačić underachieved in length but not in the final placing as well as the other Croatian representative Sanja Gavrilović, whose 63.09 was enough for the seventh place.

Shingo SuetsuguWorld’s fastest man at the moment ina 110m hurdles Chinese Xiang Liu won the memorial 54th Boris Hanžeković race with the result of 13.25. He was convincingly ahead the Latwian Olijars and the Buarian Vidov. Jurica Grabušić came sixth ahead of the disqualified Duane Ross and Dos Santos.

As always on every meeting the attention is focused on the shortest sprint disciplines.. Women 100m race was won by Ghanaian runner Anim Vida (11.37), while the fastest in the men race was the Zagreb crowd favourite Abdul Aziz Zakari. In the 4oom hurdles race world champion Jana Pittmann ran the excellent 54.15, seasons third best, one hundredth of a second slower than the meeting record. She came to Zagreb for the first time. And won the sympathies of the crowd instantly although it was one of her first performances this season. 18-year-old Nikolina Horvat tok advantage of her presence and improved national record fro a hundrdth of a second which now stands 59.52.

Athletes’ statements:

Ivana Brkljačić:
- I was so hot about this meeting and in the end i was totally disappointed. The conditions were excellent and yet I managed to throw so short while i recently threw 69 meters under rain. I’m afraid that this came a little bit demoralizing for me before the Olympics but this only means i will have to work harder to do well in the Athens.

Blanka Vlašić:

- Personally i am not satisfied, but objectively i have to be pleased with my result. It is evident that my shape is not as last year when i jumped over 2 meters. I am sorry that i didn’t bring joy to the Zagreb crowd by jumping over 2m as last year.

Liu Xiang:
- At the beginning of the race i felt very tired due to several repeated starts. First three hurdles I did excellent, while the rest of the race i did bad because of my fatigue.

Hestrie Cloete:
- I am pleased because this is my best result this year.I’ve benn jumping in Zagreb for four seasons now and i always jump over two meters. Maybe i felt a bit tired because I arrived in Zagreb late 9 pm on Monday, straight from South Africa. I like to jump in Zagreb, i don’t know if this is because of the track, the atmosphere or Blanka. I will decide in September whether i will continue to jump or end my career. If i remain active i will come to Zagreb next year. I will continue to come as long as i will be active.

JL (29.06.2004.)
Japanese invasion to "Hanžek"

Shingo SuetsuguAt the beginning of the next weekend in Zagreb there will be a reminder of the times when Kazu Miura played at the Maksimir stadium. Almost all of the Japanese sport public's attention shall be focused to Zagreb.

Namely, one of the attendants of the athletic Grand prix meeting, held on Tuesday (5.30 PM) at the Mladost sport park stadium, is a Japanese Shingo Suetsugu. Being a winner of the first Japanese medal at the Olympics or WC (200m bronze medal in Paris) enjoys a status of the superstar in his homeland, his every move over the world is followed, especially in the Olympic year. Suetsugu will arrive in Zagreb accompanied by his coach, manager and a personal physiotherapist, and he is also a reason that cca 30 of the Japanese reporters are accredited. Among them also two television networks, many daily paper reporters and agency companies as well as the Tarzan magazine reporter, a Japanese equivalent of the Playboy magazine. It will be yet another promotion of Zagreb and Croatia in Japan. Shingo Suetsugu is on European tour and he will be running 100m in Zagreb.

His competition will consist of Darren Campbell and Jason Gardener, both British. They too prepare for the Athens where their goal id to win a medal. Campbell won bronze at the "hundred" a year ago in Paris and he plans a sequel at the Olympics. Four years ago in Sydney he was silver in the 200m race. In the career of this 29 year old Manchester resident a title of the European champion in 1998. exceeds as well as a bronze medal in Munich two years ago.

Finally, Jason Gardener also plans his appraisal in the "open field". His personal best in the 100m race is 9.98 but so far he has won medal only at 60m, he is a European and world champion. He finally decided to get a medal also in the 100m race. Zagreb will be his preparatrory station at his rad to a medal in athens

JL (27.06.2004.)
A spectacle already at 17:30 pm.

ZAGREB - Athletic Grand prix meeting will again bring to Zagreb some of the biggest stars. On Tuesday 29th June popular "Hanžek" will offer a three hour sport spectacle.

On of the best and most interesting disciplines will be first in the time schedule, a hammer throw for the female athletes. Due to security reasons the organizers haven't been able to postpone this highly technical discipline to a later term so it will begin at 5.30 pm. Yet, it is worthwhile to come to stadium on time because of the quality of that discipline. Croatian record holder Ivana Brkljačić will face strong competition which will, as we are sure of, push her over the historical frontier of 70 meters.
Ivana Brkljačić - After big events like the Olympics and world and European championships "Hanžek" is my most important competition.- Brkljačić often states.

The youngest Olympic athletic champion Kamila Skolimowska has already become a regular guest in Zagreb. This Polish native won a gold Olympic medal being just 17 and 311 days old. This season she has already thrown over 70 meters (70,93). At «Hanžek» also the actual world record holder a Romanian Michaela Melinte (76,07) will throw. Hammer thrower from Romania has won world records for eight times, in the late 90's she was a European and world champion, but in the summer of 2000 she was suspended for doping. A Russian Olga Kuzenkova, who has marked the initial seasons of this discipline, is also present and she has achieved 11 world best results. Two years ago she has won her first gold medal (EC) and before that she was silver five times at the big events. China will be represented strongly with the Asian champion Gu Yuan and Zhang Wengxiu who has thrown 72,42 m this year. Besides Ivana Brkljačić, Croatia will be represented by the olympic Sanja Gavrilović and a gold medal candidate at the recent World junior championship, Valentina Srša.

JL (26.06.2004.)
"World championships" in high jump and hammer throw

ZAGREB – Two weeks before the athletic Grand prix meeting in Zagreb ( June 29th , 5.40 pm), organizers may brag with the excellent response of the competitors. Two of the dissciplines may easily be marked as the "little world championships" due to the strong competition.

Ivana Brkljačić Ivana Brkljačić will have a strong competition and we may rightfully expect of her to throw kladivo beyond the 70-meter limit exactly at "Hanžek". Zagreb will be visited by the best Moreno, Skolimowska, Wengxiu as well as Kuzenkova.
- I too believe I could do that here. "Hanžek" is , after the Olympics, my most important competition and I would like to win.

Female high jump will be extraordinary as well. Along with already announced Blanka Vlašić and the world champion Cloete, Berqvist will perform on «Hanžek» for the first time this year, and at least one of the three excellent high-jumpers- Palamar, Babakova, Slesarenko.- will come too.

Siniša ErgotićAnother Olympic athlete, Siniša Ergotić, will have a strong competition. Stringfellow was certain to come, but the he will miss the whole season because of an injury.
-Whoever comes, I'm sure it will be great. I consider "Hanžek" as my personal meeting and my performance was never in question, nor it will ever be.- Ergotić said.

Meeting manager Harald Edletzberger has publicized part of the 110 m hurdles race starting line up- Xiang Liu, Ross, Olijars, Grabušić. Tickets will begin to sell on Monday at SP Mladost (at the price of 30 and 50 kunas), also the official web page of the meeting is all set (

Direktor Mitinga - Dražen KroupaDražen Kroupa, the meeting director, and Zvonko Merkaš, member of the Auto Hrvatska board have signed an agreement by which Auto Hrvatska has become one of the main meeting sponsors. It is interesting that already twenty Japanese journalist have signed in for the meeting coverage.

JL (15.06.2004.)