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Znamensky Memorial makes perfect Olympic warm-up

Younger athletes took central stage at the annual Znamensky Memorial as the more experienced ones were clearly saving themselves for the upcoming London 2012 Games.

­The Znamensky Memorial athletics competition, held near Moscow every year, has attracted athletes from over 50 different countries.

The event, established over 50 years ago in honor of two Soviet champions in long distance running, Georgy and Seraphim Znamensky, has held IAAF status since 2000 and is also part of the Association’s World Challenge tour.

The competition features races over distances from 100 meters to 1.500 meters. It also includes javelin throwing, shot put and other Olympic events.

In the high jump, recently-crowned Russian champion, Irina Gordeeva could not better Norway's Tonje Angelsen, nor could she topple her personal best of 2.02 meters.

But she was full of praise about the event as a whole, though the amount of training and competitions in close succession was sapping.

“I think that they’ve done a really good job organizing this event,” Gordeeva told RT. “And the weather has been fantastic. Personally, I didn’t do so well today, the bar wobbled and then fell. But, that aside, I do really like this event.”

Olympic champion Gulnara Galkina-Samitova participated in the 1.500-meter middle distance run, but failed to make the top three.

While Olympic medal hopeful Elena Soboleva says a hectic recent schedule has proven to be energy sapping

“It’s really tough,”
she stressed. “I mean, I’ve been running all week, culminating in participating in this competition. So it’s definitely drained my energy. It also affects your overall speed average, which I’ve been working on during training.”

But as the older generation draw nearer to hanging up their boots, it’s the stars of the future that are beginning to catch the eye.

Ekaterina Poistogova claimed first place in the 1500 meters, improving a whole 17 seconds on her previous personal best.

Barely off the track, she was already thinking about Russia’s National Championships, to be held at the end of June.

“I think the level of preparation will be very high for the Russian Championships; everyone is getting ready for it,”
Poistogova said. “The 800 meters race is very difficult as it’s very popular in Russia, but of course I’m hoping I can land in the top three in order to secure a ticket to London. But it will be tough. I’m still very young, and will be facing many more experienced athletes.”

In an Olympic year you would be forgiven for thinking athletes would want to focus solely on those games, without extra competitions that could distract or lead to injury.

But when sport is your passion – the consensus among athletes is that of any person who wants success – the more you try, the greater the chance you will succeed.