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2011 European Team Championships Third League

No less than 15 teams will make their way to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik for the 2011 European Team Championships Third League.

Israel and Moldova were relegated from the Second League in 2010 but will start as favourites to make an immediate return.

High jumpers Dmitriy Kroyter and Danielle Frenkel should help Israel considerably, although the latter could face some strong competition from Montenegro’s 2010 world junior champion Marija Vuković.

Pole vaulters Yevgeniy Olkhovskiy, who cleared 5.47m indoors, and Jillian Schwartz, with a season’s best of 4.50m, also have a very good chance of taking maximum points for Israel.

There will also be a lot of interest in how Israel’s evergreen 100m hurdler Irina Lensky fares.

She turned 40 last Sunday and is gunning for the world veteran’s best of 13.20, which France’s Patricia Girard ran in 2008.

She has already run under that mark three times this season, with a best of 13.06, and also ran 13.20 last Saturday, one day before her birthday.

Moldova will be primarily looking to its distance runners to provide a lot of points.

They can boast of having the 2010 European Athletics Championships 3000m bronze medallist Ion Luchianov in their team. He should win his specialist event with ease and is also doubling up in the 1500m.

In similar fashion, Oksana Juravel won both the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase in the Second League last year and is down to do both events again this time around to provide plenty of points.

However, Moldova also have some strength in the field events with 2010 European Athletics Championships triple jump finalist Vladimir Letnicov and shot putter Ivan Emilianov, who improved his national record to 20.64m recently.

Marina Marghieva will be in the women’s hammer; she is the only thrower in the field to have gone over not only 70 metres but also 60 metres.

Cyprus were relegated from the Second League in 2009 and, having just missed out on getting promoted last year, they will not want to fall short again, despite the absence of two-time World Championships medallist Kyriakos Iaonnou.

The 2005 European Athletics U23 400m hurdlers silver medallist Minás Alozídis has not gone under 50 seconds since 2008 but should still be good enough to take maximum points over the barriers, just as he did 12 months ago in Malta.

Cyprus also have some talented throwers in its team who should ensure a regular supply of double figure points.

In 2010, there was a big gap between the promoted Denmark and Bulgaria and third-placed Cyprus, who had an 80-point advantage over this year’s hosts Iceland who finished fourth, so it is difficult to see any one else in contention for the top two places.

Perhaps one dark horse might be Azerbaijan, who have a stable of excellent distance runners although their weakness in the field events might tell against them over the course of two days of competition.

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