Dmitry Karpov in Desenzano del Garda (Lorenzo Sanpaolo) © Copyright

Karpov headlines Multistars meeting - PREVIEW

Dimitry Karpov of Kazakhstan, bronze medallist at the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and in two editions of the IAAF World Championships in 2003 and 2007, winner of the 2006 IAAF World Combined Events Challenge, will top the bill at the Multistars meeting in Desenzano del Garda which celebrates its 21st edition kicking off the IAAF Combined Events Challenge series.

It is a return for reigning Asian Games winner Karpov who emerged as a rising star with a win in the 2003 edition of the Multistars where he smashed his PB from 7995 points to 8253 points. Karpov went on to win the World bronze medal in Paris later in the same year and the Olympic bronze in Athens with an impressive 8725 points Asian record.

After being sidelined by injury problems Karpov won the Asian Games gold in Doha in December 2006 and his second World bronze medal in Osaka. This year he began on a high note winning a World indoor bronze medal in Valencia in the Heptathlon with 6131 points.

The athlete from Kazakhstan is just one of the many athletes who used the Multistars as a springboard for future international success. Other top athletes who started their careers in Desenzano were “Mister 9026 points” World record holder Roman Sebrle, three-time World champion Thomas Dvorak and 1992 Olympic champion Robert Zmelik.

Top women names who began their international career in the Multistars are 2008 World indoor champion Tia Hellebaut and Naide Gomes, respectively gold medallists at the Pentathlon and in the Long Jump and British Olympic hopeful Jessica Ennis, winner in the 2007 Multistars with a superb 6388 PB and then fourth in the Osaka World Championships later in the summer.

Junior champ to challenge Karpov

Karpov will take on emerging star Arkady Vasilyev of Russia, the reigning World junior champion from Beijing 2006 with a new 8059 PB. For Vasilyev it will be the second appearance in the Italian meeting. Last year Vasilyev finished third with 7820 points.

Three more 8000 points-scorers will feature in the starting list of the Multistars. They are emerging 24-year-old Jack Arnold of the USA (PB 8215 points in 2007), Rudy Bourgignon of France (PB 8025 points) and Ronald Schwarzl of Austria (PB 8102 points).

Italian William Frullani, a former European under-23 bronze medallist from Amsterdam 2001, will pursue a tough 8000-points qualifier for the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Collonvillé takes on younger generation in Heptathlon

Experienced French Heptathlon top name Marie Collonvillé, seventh at the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and sixth at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, will look for a second Multistars title after taking the honours in 2004.

Collonvillé will take on 2004 World Indoor Championships silver medallist Natalya Dobrynska of the Ukraine, Dutch Laurien Hoos, former European under-23 champion in Erfurt 2005 with her current 6291 points PB.

Representing the USA will be Diana Pickler who improved her PB to 6205 points last year. Hanna Melnichenko of the Ukraine (PB 6143 points), who lives in Italy after marrying Frullani, is expected to receive a strong support from local fans who will gather in Desenzano this weekend.

For the first time Desenzano organizers managed to invite athletes coming from all five continents making the meeting on the Lake Garda a true global event. Brent Newdick of New Zealand (PB 7730 points) and Hadi Sepehrzad of Iran (PB 7667) will add extra international interest to what promises to be a gathering of athletes from all corners of the globe.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF