Berlin – Ten days after the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, preparations for the 71stInternationales Stadionfest (ISTAF) are in their final phase. And confirmation is already in that the crowds thronging to Berlin's Olympic stadium on 2nd September 2012 will be treated to the spectacle of at least five gold medallists from the London Olympics. Following the signing of all eight German medallists, this is the latest piece of good news from the world's oldest and largest athletics meeting.
The holders of gold, silver and bronze medals are pitted against each other in the women's hammer! Betty Heidler will again be matching her talents against gold medallist Tatyana Lysenko and runner-up Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland. The Russian took first place in London with a throw of 78.18m, Wlodarczyk securing silver with 77.60 metres. Heidler's bronze-winning throw of 77.12m was measured shorter at first and only after the measuring tape was brought in was the Berlin-born current world record holder acknowledged as being in the medals.
In the men's shot put David Storl will meet Polish gold medallist Tomasz Majewski and bronze medallist Reese Hoffa of the USA. Reigning world champion Storl, whose silver in the finals brought Germany its first track-and-field medal in London, only narrowly missed gold, hurling a personal best of 21.86m. Majewski, who triumphed in Beijing four years ago, pipped Storl with his third attempt of 21.89m, a paltry three centimetres further than the German.
Christina Obergföll and Linda Stahl, who won silver and bronze in the javelin, throwing 65.16m and 64.91m respectively, will once again 'spearhead' the German team and be competing against London winner and world record holder Barbara Spotakova of the Czech Republic, whose London throw of 69.55m was the best performance of the season so far.
Robert Harting, the first Olympic track-and-field supremo from Berlin since 1988, will again be up against the world's best discus throwers, in particular his nemesis Piotr Malachowski of Poland. Two other ISTAF probables are the Estonian Gerd Kanter, bronze medallist in London, and Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania. Sixth-placed Martin Wierig of Magdeburg will also be competing, making it almost a certainty that five of the six best London discus throwers will attend.
Not that the best athletes being served up to the crowd in Berlin's Olympic stadium will be restricted to the throwing disciplines. The cream of runners and jumpers, too, will be competing at the ISTAF.
An athletics legend in the form of Olympic champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic will be in the line-up for the 400m hurdles. The world champion of 2001 and 2003 took gold in the 2004 and 2012 Games. In Berlin he will be challenged by Briton Rhys Williams, European champion at Helsinki, the Dresdener Georg Fleischhauer and local boy Varg Königsmark from the Nike Berlin athletics association.
The women's 800 metres will feature the London silver medallist Caster Semenya of South Africa and the Russian Ekaterina Poistogova, who took the bronze.
ISTAF Managing Director Martin Seeber: "We've always said we want to have all the German medallists and as many of the gold medallists from London as possible at the ISTAF, and it's looking very good at the moment. The Germans are all on board and we already have five of the golds lined up. We may get one or two more as well."
47,000 tickets have already been sold to the event scheduled for 2nd September 2012. The lower tier is all but booked out. Tickets for the upper tier are still available for as little as 9 euros. The ISTAF Family Ticket gives four people a great afternoon out for only 25 euros. All tickets can be reserved on www.istaf.deor by phoning 030/20 60 70 88 99.