Eugene showdown - Jamaicans brace for big tests at latest Diamond League stop
EUGENE, Oregon, (CMC):
Elaine Thompson will renew her rivalry with Dafne Schippers in an all-star clash in the women's 200 metres, which will headline the third stop of the IAAF Diamond League at the Prefontaine Classic today.
Thompson, the Rio Olympics sprint double champion, will be seeking to consolidate her position as the undisputed top female sprinter in the world today when she faces a strong field as some of the world's best athletes compete in the historic surroundings of Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.
The Jamaican has been installed as favourite for the half-lap sprint following her strong start to the season.
She clocked 22.19 seconds to win the event earlier this month at the Doha Diamond league meet and dismissed her challengers with a time of 22.09 seconds at the Jamaica International Invitational IAAF World Challenge meeting last weekend on home soil.
Dutchwoman Schippers, the reigning 200 world champion, who won the women's 200 Diamond League trophy last year, was the runner-up to Thompson at last year's Olympics in Rio and at the meet in Doha, but she will have to run very hard to prevail over the long-legged Jamaican.
Also down to face Thompson is 2012 Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix, whose resume also includes three world titles over the distance. She warmed up impressively with a clocking of 11.07 over 100m last weekend in Kingston, which was only good for third behind compatriot Morolake Akinosun and Trinidad & Tobago's Michelle-Lee Ahye, both clocking 11.06 seconds.
The Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the woman who denied Felix an Olympic 400m gold in dramatic fashion last year in Rio, could also provide an outside challenge to Thompson, but it is American Tori Bowie, the Rio Olympics bronze medallist, who looks to be the biggest threat following her 22.09 run last month in Gainesville in the American state of Florida.
Omar McLeod is another Olympic gold medallist from Jamaica who will be on display. Though the men's 110m hurdles will not be an IAAF Diamond League event at the meet, he will nonetheless be keen to continue his dominance over rivals such as world record holder Aries Merritt, 2013 World champion David Oliver, Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri Bascou, and European Indoor champion Andrew Pozzi. Another Jamaican set to compete is Ronald Levy.
The women's 100m sees veteran Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown and a host of the world's top sprinters line up against Haiti-born American World Indoor champion Barbara Pierre. Also listed in experienced Jamaican Simone Facey.
Olympic finalist Janieve Russell will line up in the women's 400m hurdles.