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Nine gold medallists to be decided today

Nine gold medallists are to be decided on the penultimate day of the 13th IAAF World Championships here in South Korea today.

The dayís star-studded lineup includes the menís 50km race walk scheduled for the morning.

The eveningís schedule under lights at the picturesque Daegu Stadium, situated beside two huge mountains, comprise of womenís high jump, menís javelin throw, womenís 800m, menís 400m, menís 1,500m, womenís 4 x 400m relay, womenís 100m hurdles and menís 200m finals.

Menís marathon

But the much looked forward to menís marathon will be worked off tomorrow Ė the ninth and final day of the 203-nation championship which has been a resounding success.

Defending champion Abel Kirui, who set a championship record of two hours, six minutes and 14 seconds in Berlin two years ago, is looking forward for another dream run.

Kirui, who shattered an eight-year-old WC record of two-time winner Jaouad Gharbib of Morocco, spearheads a strong Kenyan team tipped to win a fourth successive marathon gold.

The Kenyan marathon team is strengthened by the presence of Vincent Kipruto, who has recorded the worldís third fastest marathon timing this year - 2:05:33, Kenya has enough and more back up to keep their marathon medal hopes alive in Dubai and Paris champions David Barmasai (2:07:18) and Benjamin Kiptoo (2:06:31). Eliud Kiptanui who will go to the start line with a 2:09:08 performance is another Kenyan dark horse.

The chances are more on Barmasai after he raised eyebrows last October in winning the Nairobi Marathon at an altitude of 1600 metres in the Kenyan capital in 2:10:31.

Tough competition

Kenyaís customary challengers in the long distance race would come from neighboring Ethiopia, In Gebre Gebremariam, winner in New York on his Marathon debut last November, Ethiopia could keep their gold medal chances alive.

Twenty six-year-old Gebremariam, whose strength is backed up by his victory in the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, dreams to emulate the feats of Abere Gezahegne in Edmonton 2001 by becoming only the second Ethiopian to win a World championship marathon gold.

The Ethiopian firepower of endurance include other world class performers Eshetu Wendimu and Chala Decasse who have marks of 2:07:33 and 2:08:47 for third positions in Paris and Rotterdam to their credit this year.

Apart from Kenya and Ethiopia which has been dominating in marathons, Moroccan pair of Abderrahim Goumri and Abderrahime Bouramdane who come into the Championships with seasonís bests of 2:09:11 and the latter 2:08:42 for seventh place in London, too are capable pi springing an upset here.

Marathon double

However, the mighty Kenyans would make every endeavour to complete that elusive marathon double, having already made a clean sweep in the womenís marathon held on the opening day of the championship.

Edna Kiplagat will now look forward to see her team mates bring the menís marathon medals to Nairobi. Kiplagat and her Kenyan teammates Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop moved swiftly to the front to make a clean sweep. It was the first time that the Kenyan women won all three medals in a World Championship marathon.

For Kenya, the womenís Marathon was the one womenís distance event missing in Berlin two years ago after Vivian Cheruiyot won the 5000m and Linet Masai the 10,000m. Though none of the Kenyan women finished within the top 10 in the 2009 World Championship marathon, they made a strong come back this time around.

Full house expected

A packed stadium is expected for the weekendís events. South Koreans of all walks of life, especially those who live in this host city, have shown a keen interest in watching the action.

There have been a large number of schoolchildren of lined up early morning to catch action on Thursday and Friday. Even the primary students too have made their way with teachers to make the best use of this rare opportunity of witnessing some of the top athletes in the world.

Their enthusiasm will reach peak with Sunday nightís events which include menís and womenís 4 x 100m relay which would get almost all top sprinters in the world into action. Besides the two relays and the menís marathon, the other finals scheduled for Sunday are womenís hammer throw, menís triple jump, menís 5,000m and womenís 800m. - DAEGU, Friday

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