With a month to go for the start of the Daegu World Championships on August 26, athletes are jostling to find out their fitness level, in comparison to their training and preparation and whatever they need to tweak to gain maximum performance in South Korea. What better way to augment their preparation than to go up against intense competition, particularly their rivals who may make the finals in their respective events. The Stockholm Diamond league tomorrow, July 29, offers a buffet of races that will whet the appetite of the avid track fans, prior to the main course to be served up in Daegu. The following five mouth-watering events should not be missed.
This events will feature Chris “Fireman” Brown (Bahamas), Angelo Taylor (USA), Rondell Bartholomew (Grenada) and the return of LaShawn Merritt (USA) who is back from serving a two year ban. Merritt, who has a personal best 43.75secs, has not raced in over 1½ years and will be using this event to see how much work he needs to put in to successfully defend his 400m World title. So far, the men’s 400m is wide open with Bartholomew having the world leading time of 44.65 established back in April. Renny Quow (Trinidad) and Jermaine Gonzales (Jamaica) should also be in the mix along with Jonathan Borlee (Belgium).
Women’s 400m Hurdles
This race features the Jamaican duo of Kaliese Spencer and Melanie Walker. Spencer dominated this event in 2010 and was crowned Diamond League winner. Spencer is experiencing an excellent season having run several flat 400m, and will be looking to peak in four weeks time. However, Walker the reigning World and Olympic championship is working her way back and has a season best 53.56. Despite not racing regularly this season, Walker, the former Essex County College (NJ) graduate always shows up at the big meets, ready to compete. One athlete that could use this event as her coming out party is Queen Harrison (USA). The talented Virginia Tech graduate is in her rookie season on the professional circuit and has the potential to be good in this event.
This race will feature the 200m record holder Usain “Lightning” Bolt who has a world leading 19.86 heading into this event. Bolt will matched strides against a small and not very competitive field that includes Alonso Edwards, Marvin Anderson, Richard Thompson, Jaysuma Saidy Ndure and Ainsley Waugh. Bolt is obviously not his 2009 Berlin form but will be out to prove that he is the best in his favorite event. He narrowly defeated Nesta Carter in the 100m in Monaco last weekend and will be looking to decimate this field. The others will provide minimum resistance to Bolt, who is fully capable of running 19.75, without being fully fit.
Carmelita Jeter, the hottest female sprinter on the planet, has simply been dominant this season. The John Smith coached-Jeter has a season best and world leading 10.70secs in the 100m and her dominance extends to the 200m, where she set a personal best 22.20 last week in Monaco. Jeter seems to be in the best shape of her life and it’s hard to imagine anyone finishing ahead of her in this event. Her main challenges will come from Trinidad’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Marshevet Myers (USA), Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie (Bahamas) and Kerron Stewart (Jamaica). Baptiste won her last two 100m races, while establishing a season best 10.91 in the process. Jamaica’s Schillonie Calvert who has personal best 11.05 could very well use this event to join the sub-11 secs club.
Men’s 110m Hurdles
The year 2010 belonged to USA David Oliver, 2011 has seen the return of Cuba’s Dayron Robles, the world record holder. These two will again match strides in Stockholm. While both may downplay the importance of earning a victory in Stockholm, the athlete who wins this head-to-head battle will definitely have a psychologically edge going into Daegu. Oliver is a power hurdler while Robles is a technician. Robles won the last head-to-head battle. Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas, Aries Merritt (USA), Jason Richardson (USA) and Joel Brown (USA) are set to battle for third.