Spencer set to shine
Kaliese Spencer is set to make only her second appearance in a 400m hurdles race this season at today's Sainsbury Birmingham Grand Prix meet, as she leads the list of seven Jamaicans down to compete at the latest IAAF Diamond League stop.
Double sprint world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had to withdraw from the 200m, after suffering a hamstring injury while warming up ahead of Thursday's Golden Gala meet in Rome, but Spencer will like her chances of getting her 14th straight win in the 400m hurdles here.
The defending Diamond race winner started off her season with a 54.71-second win in Shanghai a few weeks ago but will face tougher competition here in the form of world champion Zuzana Hejnova, who despite only competing in three races in the last year and a half showed that she is putting down the markers for a strong title defence with a win in Ostrava last month.
Lashinda Demus, Kori Carter - who has gone cold since winning at the Jamaica International Invitational and Tiffany Williams, who is just coming back, all seem a bit behind the pace at the moment, leaving Cassandra Tate, consistent top-three finisher this year, Commonwealth Games bronze-medal winner Eilidh Child, and Denisa Rosolova as the other likely challengers.
Spencer is yet to win a medal at the World Championships or Olympic Games. She will today meet most of the women she should be coming up against in Beijing and though they will be in better shape then, a win for her will definitely help the Commonwealth Game champion's confidence when it matters.
With Justin Gatlin also sitting out the Birmingham meet, it's pretty much anybody's race in the men's 100m, where Jamaicans Nesta Carter - still searching for his first win of the season - and Julian Forte, who is coming off a win in the 'B' race in Rome will look to get on top.
Mike Rodgers, who has posted four times below 10.00 seconds so far this season is perhaps the best bet for the win but besides the Jamaican pair, there are some interesting names in the mix, such as Jimmy Vicaut (9.98) and Marvin Bracy (9.95), who are both coming off sub-10 times in their last outings.
Novlene Williams-Mills steps back after a tough start to the season leaving Stephenie-Ann McPherson, who improved to second place in Rome after three third-place finishes in her previous appearances this season and Christine Day as the only Jamaicans in the 400m. In fact, McPherson is the strongly favoured to win, with the Commonwealth Games champion holding fond memories of her last race on British soil last year in Glasgow.
Damar Forbes' 8.16m season best makes him tied as the 13th best competitor in the long jump this year and with Olympic champion Greg Rutherford set to jump before his home crowd and the in-form Mike Hartfield, as well as Zarck Visser also in Birmingham, he will most likely need to improve on that if he is to crack the top three here.
Allyson Felix should win comfortably in the women's 200m where Jamaican Simone Facey is scheduled to compete alongside Jeneba Tarmoh and Bianca Williams.
7:20 a.m. Discus Throw Women
7:40 a.m. Pole Vault Women
7:55 a.m. Triple Jump Men
8:11 a.m. 100m Men Heat A
8:21 a.m. 100m Men Heat B
8:31 a.m. 300m Men
8:35 a.m. Shot Put Women
8:41 a.m. 800m Women
8:51 a.m. 110mH Men
9:04 a.m. 400m Women (Christine Day, Stephenie McPherson
9:09 a.m. High Jump Women
9:14 a.m. 1500m Women
9:25 a.m. 800m Men
9:32 a.m. Javelin Throw Men
9:35 a.m. 400m H. Women
9:40 a.m. Long Jump Men (Damar Forbes)
9:45 a.m. 5000m Men
10:04 a.m. 3000m SC Women
10:20 a.m. 100m Men Final (Nesta Carter, Julian Forte)
10:30 a.m. 200m Women (Simone Facey)
10:40 a.m. 100mH. Women
10:50 a.m. 1500m Men