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Star sprinter to miss Athens meeting July 3, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Athletics.

Gatlin, world record co-holder in 100m, pulls out of Athens Super Grand Prix ‘Tsiklitiria’

American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who shares the 100-meter world record with Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, has pulled out of today’s Athens Super Grand Prix track and field meeting, or “Tsiklitiria” as the event is locally known.

According to reports, Gatlin, the meeting’s major draw card, informed organizers on Saturday that he would miss the Athens meeting at the Olympic Stadium due to leg-injury concerns. Organizers, however, did not make any announcement at a news conference yesterday ahead of today’s meeting.

Sources said the event’s organizers approached Powell’s manager hoping the Jamaican could replace Gatlin in Athens. But Powell, who set a world record time of 9.77 seconds in Athens last year, refused the offer, citing an injury concern of his own.

Gatlin equaled Powell’s world record time of 9.77 seconds on May 12 of this year in Doha, Qatar. He was the surprise winner of the 100-meter sprint at the Athens Olympics in 2004, running a personal best of 9.85 to overcome a world-class field that included Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu and Sydney gold-medalist and US teammate Maurice Greene.

The world record holder of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Saif Said Sahin of Qatar, who will be competing at the Athens meeting tonight, said he was hoping for a time of 7 minutes and 50 seconds, weather permitting.

“I like competing at the Tsiklitiria and in Athens because, usually, the weather helps me achieve great results,” said Sahin.

Osledis Menendez, the Cuban world record holder in the women’s javelin, said she was looking forward to a good performance in Athens.

“I’m going to aim for the best. Greece suits me as I’ve broken two world records here,” she told yesterday’s news conference.

The one-day meeting gets under way with the women’s javelin event at 6.45 p.m. The meeting’s final event, the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, is scheduled to begin at 9.30 pm. The meeting will be televised live on local Greek TV channel “Antenna”.

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