Olympic fever mounts as athletics program starts
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
Turkey’s Kenyan-born athlete İlham Tanui Özbilen (L) will compete in the men’s 1500-meter qualifications as the Olympic track and field program starts today. AAThe Olympic thrill will be boosted today with the athletics program starting today. The home favorite will hope pin-up heptathlete Jessica Ennis and Welsh 400-meter hurdles world champion Dai Greene start on a high note.
There are just two finals tonight: the women’s 10,000-meter and the men’s shot put.
Turkey will miss Elvan Abeylegesse, whose one of two silver medals in the 2008 Games came on the 10,000-meter final.
However, three Turkish athletes will start competing today.
Kenyan-born long-distance runners İlham Tanui Özbilen and Tarık Langat Akdağ will represent Turkey in their first Olympics, along with Pınar Saka. Tanui Özbilen will participate in the 1500-meter qualification race, while Langat Akdağ starts the 3000-meter steeplechase. The two athletes are coming to London as medalists after their podium finishes at the European Championships in Helsinki in June.
Saka will compete in women’s 400-meter qualification rounds.
Turkey started the Olympic Games with poor results in weightlifting, archery, shooting, badminton and table tennis, so it will try to get some boost in track and field.
Host nation also suffered a poor start, but found its winning touch with gold medals in rowing and cycling earlier this week.
While Greene will be bidding to safely negotiate round one of the hurdles event, Ennis will be straight into full competition, taking part in the 100-meter hurdles and high jump in the morning session before the shot put and 200-meter in the evening on day one of her grueling seven-discipline event.
Up against Ennis will be Russian world champion Tatyana Chernova and Ukraine’s Natalia Dobrynska.
The 10,000-meter has been built up as a duel between Kenya’s world champion Vivian Cheruiyot and Ethiopia’s defending Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba.
The shot put sees world champion David Storl of Germany taking on a US trio of throwers, including Reese Hoffa, who leads the world rankings with 22.00 meters, Christian Cantwell and Ryan Whiting.