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Greene, Williams-Darling are special guests for meet

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Anthony Foster, Gleaner Writer

Olympic Games gold medallists, American Maurice Greene and The Bahamas' Tonique Williams-Darling, have accepted invitations to be special guests at next weekend's (January 16) Douglas Forrest Invitational.

Over the years, a feature of the track and field meet is the organising committee's ploy to invite several top overseas-based track & field stars to provide motivational talks to the young athletes. Some who have been to past meets are Americans Shawn Crawford, Torrie Edwards, John Carlos, Kevin Young, Lee Evans and Mel Pender, along with Trinidad & Tobago's Ato Boldon.

Greene won gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 100m and on the US 4x100 team, while Williams-Darling won the 2004 Olympic 400m and repeated her success at the World Championships the following year.

Greene, a former world 100m record holder, also has four World Championship titles, three over the 100-metre distance. Both athletes will arrive in the island between next Wednesday and Thursday.

Under construction

Meanwhile, the meet will move inside the National Stadium for this year's staging, as the Stadium East field will be under construction.

The meet, according to Brian Smith, who heads the organising committee, will cost approximately $175,000 and there are 19 confirmed sponsors

Smith also explained that one of the main challenges confronting his team is to recreate the "family atmosphere" they enjoyed at Stadium East.

The meet will also attract some overseas teams, but to date, only Star Trackers from The Bahamas have been confirmed.

The events to be contested this year are 200m, 800m, 3000m, 1500m, 5000m, 400m hurdles, medley and 4x400m relays, shot put and all jumps.

Four athletes, per team, per event are allowed to enter. Over 2,600 athletes from 76 teams took part in last year's meet and Smith expects a similar number this year.

Howard Aris, president of the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA), said this meet "is very important".

He described it as one of the best on the JAAA calendar, adding: "It's an event that will allow us very early to look at our talents, both in terms of those coaches to see exactly where their charges are and also for the athletes themselves to see whether they are on time in organising themselves."