Athletics: Big blow for Russia as steeplechaser withdraws from home world c'ships

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russia's medal hopes at the world athletics championships in Moscow suffered a serious blow on Friday, as Olympic and world women's steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova pulled out through injury.

"Two days ago Zaripova injured her take-off leg after hitting the barrier during practice," 27-year-old Zaripova's coach Alexei Melnikov was quoted as saying by the Russian athletics federation.

"She has seriously hurt her knee and has torn the inguinal (groin) muscles. She will undergo detailed medical testing but it's already clear that the season for her is over.

"It's a big disappointment for Yulia and all of us as she had a reasonable chance of a very successful performance in Moscow."

Earlier this week Yury Borzakovsky, the 2004 Olympic 800m champion, also withdrew from the championships that start on Saturday owing to illness.