Bolt on track again
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
The eyes of the world will be fixed squarely on Jamaican sprinting king Usain Bolt, as he lines up in the 200m later this afternoon at the DN Galan Samsung Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.
Not only will it be the world and Olympic champion's final 200 metres before he defends his title in a month's time at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Daegu, South Korea, but it will also be interesting to see if the powerful Jamaican guns for the stadium record of 19.77 seconds, which was set by American Michael Johnson in 1996.
Stadium records at the DN Galan Samsung Diamond League meet are rewarded with a 1-carat diamond, valued at US$10,000 (J$855,000), and having already gone 19.86 this season, Bolt is in prime condition to reset the record books at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium.
In truth, there is little in way of any real test for the 100m and 200m world record holder, as the field in Sweden is rather sparse in terms of real threats. Bolt, for instance, is the only person in the field among the top 20 athletes in the event this year.
However, compatriots Marvin Anderson and Ainsley Waugh, who themselves have gone 20.27 seconds and 20.51 seconds this year, respectively, will certainly be looking to impress in front of the Swedish crowd, with Trinidadian Olympic 100m silver medallist Richard Thompson also expected to start in his first 200m of the season.
National record holder Jermaine Gonzales, who has gone 45.07 seconds this season, will have his work cut out for him in the 400m, as he looks to build some form going into the World Championships against a solid field that includes the world's No. 1 quarter-miler so far this year, Grenada's Rondell Bartholomew, 44.65 seconds. Gonzales, along with Jonathan Borlee (Belgium), 44.97 seconds, and Christopher Brown (Bahamas), 44.94 seconds, are all in with a shot here and should ensure a close contest.
This event also sees the return of American LaShawn Merritt, who is making his return to competition after serving a two-year drug ban, which came on the heels of his 2009 World Championships triumph.
The women's 800m is easily one of the most competitive at the meet, with 10 of the competitors clocking under 1:59.00 already this year. It's a rematch between Jamaica's Daegu medal hopeful Kenia Sinclair, 1:58.29, who is returning from her injury sustained in Paris earlier this month, and world champion Caster Semenya, 1:58.61 seconds, after their intense clash earlier this year in Eugene, Oregon, at the Prefontaine Classic. Sinclair has not lost a race this year.
The winner may also come from one of Svetiana Klyuka who, despite running 1:58.03 at the recent Russian National Championships, could only manage fourth place, and her Bulgarian namesake Svetiana Usovich, who has a year's best of 1:58.12 seconds.
Jamaican duo Kerron Stewart and Schillonie Calvert will face the formidable American Car-melita Jeter in the women's 100m, as she, too, home in on the stadium record for a diamond of her own. Jeter's season best 10.70 seconds is much lower than the 10.90 seconds stadium record, which is currently being held by Russian great Irina Privalova. Stewart, 10.87 seconds and Marshavet Myers, 10.87 seconds, will, however, be looking to pull an upset on the in-form Jeter.
Kaliese Spencer, 53.45 seconds, and her training partner Melaine Walker, 53.56 seconds, are miles better than their rivals here and should record a comfortable one-two; one way or the other. Thethird Jamaican in the event, Nickiesha Wilson, 55.57 seconds, is some way off her 53.97 seconds personal best and has some work to do if she is to become a real factor in the event.
National 110m hurdles record holder Dwight Thomas will join his training partner and world leader David Oliver in what should be an interesting contest, with the hope of playing more the role of an 'extra' in the hotly anticipated clash between Oliver and his nemesis, world record holder Dayron Robles, who will be looking to improve on his 13.07 seconds season's best.
Thomas set a new national record early last month with a 13.15 seconds run in Oslo, and is desperate to break the 13-seconds mark and join Oliver in the 2011 12-seconds club.
Men's 110m Hurdles
(Heats - 12:30 p.m; Final - 1:50 p.m.)
Men's 400m (1:03 p.m.)
Women's 800m (1:15 p.m.)
Women's 100m (1:25 p.m.)
Women's 400m hurdles (2:15 p.m.)
Men's 200m (2:25 p.m.)