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    TRACK AND FIELD `MATCH OF GIANTS` GIVEN A NEW LEASE OF LIFE

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    MOSCOW, September 5 (RIA Novosti) - The track and field `Russian Challenge` competition to be held at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium on September 5 is going to bring back the tradition of holding regular USSR-U.S. "matches of giants".

    The Russian and US teams will each comprise 40 athletes, the Russian track and field team's coach Valery Kulichenko said.

    Athletes will compete in 13 most spectacular track and field disciplines, including running (flat, hurdle and relay races) and jumping (high jump, long jump and pole vault) events.

    Both teams feature winners of the recent Olympics in Athens. The Russian squad includes Olympic champions Yuri Borzakovsky, Elena Slesarenko, and Tatyana Lebedeva plus Olympic medalists Svetlana Feofanova, Tatyana Tomashova, Natalya Nazarova, Natalya Antyukh and Daniil Burkenya. The US Olympic champions Dwight Fillips, Joan Hyes, Christie Cox and Brian Lewis will compete for the American team.

    Speaking at a press conference, Vyacheslav Fetisov, head of Russia's Federal Agency for Sports and Tourism, expressed his sincere gratitude to the American athletes for coming to Moscow for participation in the competition despite the recent tragic events in Russia.

    "The American and Russian track and fields teams are the best in the world, which was clearly shown out by the results of the 2004 Olympics in Athens," Vyacheslav Fetisov said.

    According to Valentin Balakhnichev, president of the Russian Track and Field Federation, the match is going to become a regular fixture on the international track and field agenda. "I should say, however, that our American colleagues suggest inviting Chinese athletes to the next competition scheduled to take place in Seattle in 2006. They also suggest that the 2008 match be held in Beijing, yet we would prefer to retain the traditional Russia-U.S. format of the tournament."

    In all, 18 matches were held between the USSR and US track and field teams in the period from 1958 to1982, with the Soviet team winning 14, losing 3 and drawing one match.

    The world's two leading track and fields teams have not competed in a similar match since 1982.

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