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Tight battles await Ja duo in Oslo

Published:Thursday | June 11, 2015 | 6:00 AMAndre Lowe

Only two Jamaicans will compete at today's latest stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit - the ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway - but the island has a distinct touch on this meet.

It's a tradition that Kaliese Spencer has played a part in - and one that they will both be looking to continue - while fine-tuning ahead of the World Championships in Beijing, China.

Both athletes are the defending Diamond Race winners in their respective events - Campbell-Brown taking the sprint double last year and Spencer again winning top honours in the 400m hurdles.

Whereas Spencer will have a bye for the World Championships, given her Diamond fortunes last season, Campbell-Brown will be forced to go through the trial process at this month's Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) National Senior Championships, due to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's defending World Champion status in both the 100m and 200m trumping her Diamond League wins last season.

Campbell-Brown faces a field that includes Murielle Ahoure (Ivory Coast), a woman she has beaten in six of their seven meetings in the 100m, as well as Ivet Lalova (Bulgaria), with eyes on Merlene Ottey's 10.88 meet record set in 1991.

Ahoure is in the best form of the bunch, pushing Fraser-Pryce to the line with a 10.81 seconds run in Eugene a few weeks ago, with Campbell-Brown's best race so far coming in her season opener in Brazil, where she posted an 11.04 clocking in the Mano a Mano Challenge.

Spencer has been the dominant force in the 400m hurdles on the circuit and has unsurprisingly won the event here on four of the last five occasions - with eventual World Champion Zuzana Hejnova taking the win in 2013.

Hejnova, who in fact went unbeaten in 2013, will again feature here, desperate to reclaim her space as the top 400m hurdler on the planet and looking to get one over the Jamaican, after unsuccessful tries in their last two races, including last weekend's Birmingham Grand Prix.

intriguing season ahead

It was a pretty close and tactical contest then and it should be no different here in what is shaping up to be a really intriguing season involving these two.

Another keen battle is also expected in the men's high jump, where the gravity-defying Bohdan Bondarenko from Ukraine and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim continue their race to the world record in the men's high jump.

World leader Barshim has looked the sharper of the two and has already cleared 2.41m this season, a mark that dwarfs Javier Sotomayor's 2.37m meet record set in 1989. But it's the Cuban's 2.45m world record mark that again stands under threat here, as it does every time these two compete.

Christian Taylor will compete in only his second long jump of the year where he comes up against Greg Rutherford, while the 100m hurdles battle royale should again excite with World Champion Brianna Rollins, World leader Jasmin Stowers, Queen Harrison, as well as Lolo Jones, all booking lanes.

Jamaicans' schedule:

Women's 100m

2:35 p.m.: Veronica Campbell-Brown

Women's 400m Hurdles

1:04 p.m.: Kaliese Spencer