All set for JII 2016
Jamaica's Olympic 100-metre champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, her training partner and World Championships 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson, and outstanding American Tyson Gay are three of the global stars who will be on show at tomorrow's 13th staging of the Jamaica International Invitational meet (JII) at the National Stadium.
Gates are scheduled to open at 3:30 p.m., with the first event, the men's javelin, set to start at 4:15.
Also down to compete tomorrow are Shaunae Miller, who set a Bahamian 200m record of 22.14 seconds in winning the event last year ahead of Fraser-Pryce; Jamaica's World Championships 4x400m gold medallists Stephenie Ann McPherson, Novlene Williams-Mills, Shericka Jackson, and Christine Day; and American 400m specialist Francena McCorory.
Former world 100m record holder Asafa Powell and Nesta Carter are two of the top men for the sprints. However, World bronze medallist AndrÈ De Grasse of Canada, American hurdler Jasmin Stowers, and Jamaica-born 400m runner Sanya Richards-Ross have pulled out of the IAAF World Challenge meet. Richards-Ross opted out because she is not physically ready, while De Grasse and Stowers are injured.
Meet director and athlete liaison Donald Quarrie, in giving an overview at the JII launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday, said he is expecting high-level performances at this year's meet.
"We are not going anywhere. We will continue to be a power house meet. We have a few (athletes) who have dropped out, but we are looking forward to some great performances," Quarrie said.
Chairman of the organising committee and Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake said the one-day event has grown to world championship status.
"The event started in 2004 and has grown to be one of the better rated one-day events in the world," Blake announced.
"We have more than half the athletes taking part coming from overseas. This year, we look to the Olympics, so we expect some good performances from the athletes," he added.
Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange said the event is a well-established brand locally.
"With the Rio Olympic Games this year, the event is of great interest. We must ensure that our guests leave our shores pleased," Grange said, "I'm excited by the galaxy of stars who will be performing on Saturday. The Government fully supports this world-class meet," she added.