Strong tests await Bolt, Thompson
Usain Bolt is back; or he will be; or so we hope anyway.
The six-time Olympic champion is set to make his European 100m debut this Friday, at the Sainsbury-sponsored London Diamond League meet inside a place that he holds fond memories of - London's Olympic Stadium.
But despite the positive reports coming out of Bolt's training camp - located some 24 miles away at Brunel University - his recent withdrawals from meets in Paris and Lausanne have left some degree of reservations or even muted optimism.
However, this weekend's assignment gives the world 100m and 200m champion and double sprint world record holder an opportunity to test his level of preparation ahead of next month's IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, after a few injury setbacks derailed his preparation.
The preliminary entry list for Friday's 100m heats suggests that Bolt, who has only contested one 100m race to date - a largely promotional outing in Brazil where he ran 10.12 in April - will face a strong test in the England capital with countrymen Nesta Carter and Kemar Bailey-Cole, as well as Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut - who recently posted a European record 9.86 - as well as American Mike Rodgers and veteran Kim Collins all registered to compete.
The last time Bolt ran inside the Olympic Stadium, he clocked 9.85 to win the 100m at this very meet in 2013. Anything close to that on Friday, and not even the bravest man will bet against him getting even better and going on to win gold at the World Cham-pionships which get under way a full month from now.
Bolt isn't the only Jamaican facing a test this weekend.
Elaine Thompson, the national champion, has run three 100m races since winning the 200m title at the National Senior Championships and will be making her first appearance in the half-lap event in Europe this year. It will also be only her second time running the 200m in Europe in her career.
In London, she will face three of the fastest women in the event this year, with world No. 2 Candyce McGrone (USA), who won her last contest in 22.08 in Monaco, as well as Dutch sprinter Dafne Schipper (22.09) and American Torie Bowie (22.23) all ready to test her medal credentials in the event.
The young Jamaican will not be short on confidence, having not lost a 200m race all season and having only lost two of her eight 100m starts in 2015. Still, this is her first time facing such a strong, in-form field in the 200m, and its left to be seen how she handles what will be her biggest test to date.