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2 Jul, 2009 07:42

Russian confidence boosted ahead of world athletics championships

The outdoor athletics season is now in full swing, with the latest event on the calendar, the Moscow Open, producing some confidence-boosting wins for a number of Russians.

With just six weeks to go until the world championships get underway, the Moscow tournament gave the athletes on show some valuable outdoor practice ahead of Berlin.

However, it proved to be a frustrating afternoon and a wasted journey for Kim Collins in the men's 100 meters.

The 2003 World Champion at this distance was deemed guilty of causing one of three consecutive false starts, and was ejected from the race.

“I felt so ready today. I didn’t see this coming. I am very-very disappointed. There are no other events where I could come back and redeem myself,” Kim Collins said.

When the race finally got underway on the fourth start, there was somewhat of an upset, with the unheralded Roman Smirnov finishing first in the rather slow time of 10.49.

If the field for the 100 meters was the strongest, the same certainly couldn't be said of the men's high jump, which included three athletes who had a personal best of 2.34m.

In the end it proved to be a straight fight-out between the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Yaroslav Rybakov, and Ivan Ukhov, who's been one of the most consistent performers, both indoors and outdoors this season.

With both athletes clearing 2.34, neither was able to pass 2.36, and Ukhov eventually claimed victory on a count-back.

“There are six weeks to go till Berlin and I am hoping to be hitting top form by then. In the mean time, I’ll be trying to jump higher and higher, but the main thing is that I stay healthy and the rest I’ll take care of,” Yaroslav Rybakov said.

The final event of the evening saw the long-awaited return of Yury Borzakovsky in the 800 meters, in front of his home fans.

The 2004 Olympic Champion failed to make the final in Beijing, and is looking for a much improved 2009.

However, with his trademark kick down the home straight, the Russian pulled clear of his main rivals to win in a slow time – almost five seconds off the current world record.

“I’m getting into better form with each race, and I’m probably running at about 75-80 per cent at the moment. These early races are getting me into shape,” Yury Borzakovsky said.