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JIIM organisers excited by early confirmations

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter

With some of the biggest names in international track and field already confirmed, organisers of this year's Jamaica International Invitational IAAF World Challenge meet are once again teeming with excitement ahead of the May 9 staging inside the National Stadium.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix, Hansle Parchment, Blessing Okagbare, Kaleise Spencer, Novlene Williams-Mills, Dawn Harper, O'Dayne Richards and Stephanie-Ann McPherson are some of the names already secured for what will be the 12th staging of the meet.

Olympic 400m champion Kirani James - the sixth fastest man over the distance with a personal best of 43.74 seconds, is reportedly close to being confirmed for what would be his first time competing on local soil.

Dr Warren Blake, president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and chairman of the organising committee was keen to underline the meet's ever increasing value to the island's wider sport tourism product and is once again expecting a successful staging of the event.

Potential For Development

"The Jamaica International Invitational is the perfect example of Jamaica's potential for development of our sports tourism product based on the many visitors and support personnel who are attracted to the island because of this event," he offered when asked about the meet's significance after 11 successful stagings.

Sponsorship and meet promotions representative Ludlow Watts, the treasurer of the JAAA, underlined the eagerness demonstrated by some of the world's best talent to coming to compete at a meet that he is convinced has developed a reputation of excellent execution.

"Over the years, the athletes have expressed the desire to compete at this meet as it is exciting in many ways. They cite the excellent organisation, strong competitive field, and the fantastic atmosphere at the National Stadium," Watts told The Gleaner. "The Jamaican track and field fans are very warm and knowledgeable, and with the tropical climate, rich legacy and large crowd of cheering fans this is the ideal track and field event to start their season."

The organisers are expecting to confirm a host of other big names to the line-up, as the weeks and months progress in the build-up to the meet.