KC’s Bloomfield, Gay join JII meet of stars for May 9
Teenage quarter-mile sensation Akeem Bloomfield has been added to the Jamaica International Invitational (JII) 400-metre line-up, while returning American sprinter Tyson Gay will feature in the 100m, after his compatriot Justin Gatlin was forced to pull out of the meet.
The JII will enter its 11th year on May 9 inside the National Stadium, with a galaxy of local and international stars already confirmed to light up the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Challenge-certified meet.
Bloomfield, the Kingston College (KC) 400m star, national junior record holder and boys' Class One champion from the just concluded Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association/
GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships, has generate considerable attention after his record-smashing 44.93-second run a few weeks ago.
The 17-year-old Carifta Under-20 champion had shown his intent even earlier in the season, teasing the world with a smooth 45.41 seconds at the Carifta Trials.
He will face a level of competition he is yet to come up against - two-time Olympic gold medallist LaShawn Merritt and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos.
The men's quarter-mile is already shaping up to be one of the must-see events at the meet with Jamaica's 2013 World Championships 4x400m hero Javon Francis also confirmed, with organisers looking to add even more world-beaters to an already stacked line-up.
GREAT YOUNG TALENT
"It's wonderful that we have such a young athletic talent in Akeem (Bloomfield), and the fact that he and his coach have accepted the invitation from the JAAA to compete in the 400m should be a motivational factor for the young man, and I hope the fans will be supportive of his performance with such an elite field," said meet director Donald Quarrie.
Gatlin was forced to pull the plug on his participation this year with commitments at the April 23-25 Penn Relays, where he will run in the USA vs the Rest of the World series, and the May 2-3 IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas taking priority.
That has opened the way for Gay, who last competed in Jamaica at the 2013 JII edition, when he clocked 9.83.
The 2007 World Championships double sprint champion, who only recently returned from a drug ban, is expected to face his compatriots Ryan Clarke and Walter Dix, with Jamaicans Asafa Powell - the former 100m world-record holder; Nesta Carter, the 2013 World Championships bronze medal winner; and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Nickel Ashmeade also confirmed.
The meeting was shifted from May 2 due to the World Relays.
"The World Relays will help some of the athletes to gauge and sharpen up for their flat events, particularly in Jamaica, and having two back-to-back major IAAF international meets is great for the development of track and field in the region," said chairman of the JII organising committee, Dr Warren Blake.
Other high-profile athletes confirmed include sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce - the four time Olympic and seven- time World Championships medallist; Allyson Felix, a four-time Olympic champion; Commonwealth Games sprint-double winner Blessing Okagbare; Sanya Richards-Ross, who has four Olympic gold medals to her credit; Diamond League queen and Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles gold medal winner Kaliese Spencer, 400m Commonwealth champion Stephenie-Ann McPherson; Olympic silver and bronze medal winner Kerron Stewart; Francena McCorory; Novlene Williams-Mills; Kimberly Williams; Christine Ohuruogu; and new sprinting sensation, world leader in the 100m, Elaine Thompson.
On the male side, Common-wealth Games champion and national shot put record holder O'Dayne Richards, World Champs silver medal winner Ryan Whiting; Reese Hoffa - the Olympic bronze medallist and Christian Cantwell, a former Olympic and world champion, will ensure that the shot put is world-class.
Commonwealth Games 200m champion Rasheed Dwyer and Jamaica's new breed of sprinters - Julian Forte and Andrew Fisher - are also expected to light up the National Stadium.