MOSCOW, August 9 (R-Sport) - World and Olympic champion Yulia Zaripova will be unable to defend her 3,000 meters steeplechase title at the world championships in Moscow later this month after injuring herself in training, the All-Russian Athletics Federation said Friday.
Team doctor Alexei Melnikov said Zaripova hurt her knee while jumping a hurdle Wednesday and will be unable to compete until next year.
“It’s completely obvious that the season is over for her,” Melnikov said on the federation website. “For us and for the athlete herself it’s a very big disappointment. Yulia had every chance of competing successfully in Moscow, but now we have to think of the future.”
With Zaripova out of the hunt, the main contenders for steeplechase gold include Tunisia’s Olympic silver medalist Habiba Ghribi, Kenya’s Lydia Chepkurui and Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa.
Zaripova burst onto the scene in 2009, winning the Russian title and taking silver at the world championships in Berlin. A year later, she took the European title, before claiming world gold in Daegu in 2011 and Olympic gold in London last year.
Zaripova’s absence reduces to five the number of reigning world champions competing for the host nation in Moscow at the world championships, which run from Saturday through August 18.