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Top athletes compete in Lucerne

Swiss athlete Ivan Bitzi (right) competing against Mark Crear (left) from the US


Top international athletes met in Lucerne on Wednesday to compete in Switzerland's third-biggest athletic event.

After the rival Grand Prix event in Nice, which was originally scheduled for Tuesday, was cancelled, this year's event has gained some unexpected and unintentional support.

However, reigning women's 100-metres champion, Zhanna Pintusevich-Block, did not need such last-minute change of plans as she has been attending the Lucerne event since 1994.

The Ukranian's performance was once again impressive with a finishing time of 10.91 seconds in the100-metres-sprint.

Just a week before her 30th birthday, Pintusevich-Block was only one hundredths of a second slower than this year's best time set by American athlete the Marion Jones.

"I did not do my best. I can do the last 30 metres quicker," the athlete said.

Gold medallist

The American triple world champion and 1996 Olympic gold medallist, Allen Johnson, was not in top form at this year's event. He finished the 110-metre-hurdle-race in a disappointing 13.63 seconds - only one hundredths of a second faster than Swiss contester, Ivan Bitzi.

This was the third time Bitzi made the qualifying limit of 13.70 seconds for August's European championships in Munich, however, it was the first time he reached the time in a qualifying competition.

"I have always believed in me and my fitness. Now I can really concentrate on getting ready for Munich," he said.

The American sprinter Mark Crear won the 110-metres-hurdle-race in 13.43 seconds.

In her first competition of the season, Anita Brägger (800 metres) was also not performing her best and finished the 800-metre-race in a disappointing 2 minutes 4.98 seconds, three seconds slower than the qualifying limit for Munich.

Sabine Fischer was even more disappointed by her performance in the 1,500-metre-race. With a time of 4 minutes 16.07 seconds she was the last athlete to reach the finishing line. "I have no idea what's wrong with me", she said after the race.

swissinfo with agencies

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