London, UK - Many of the world's greatest athletes will be at Crystal Palace for the Aviva London Grand Prix this weekend (24/25 July).
The Aviva London Grand Prix is a Super Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2009.
The rich list of champions, record holders and world leaders is topped by Usain Bolt who will race over 100m at the south London venue for the first time. The London-based Jamaican has described the track as “like a second home” and he will doubtless enjoy the noisy support of the UK capital’s colourful Caribbean community.
“This will be my fifth year in a row competing at Crystal Palace,” says Bolt. “On all four previous occasions I’ve run the 200, so it will be good to go out there and see what I can do in the 100.”
After his rainy 9.79 in Paris last week great things will be expected, especially if the weather shows even a hint of warmth. Unfortunately, the forecast is for … yep, rain.
“I seem to be bringing the rain wherever I go,” says Bolt, who has braved downpours in Paris and Lausanne in the last few weeks.
Not that the World record holder will have it all his own way in London, whatever the weather. The impressive 100m cast includes fellow Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Yohan Blake, plus Antiguan Daniel Bailey and Americans Travis Padgett, Rae Edwards and Ivory Williams. Powell could eclipse Maurice Greene’s record of 52 sub-10 performances if he dips below the 10-second barrier here, something he has done three times already on this track.
British champion Simeon Williamson will be out to impress too, but he and the other Britons may have their work cut out just to make the final.
The men’s 100m is billed to bring Friday evening’s action to a close and Bolt will return to see out Saturday afternoon’s schedule too when he faces Tyson Gay for the first time this year in the 4x100m relay.
Gay’s final 200m test
Gay – the double World champion and the fastest 100m sprinter in the world this year – is favourite for the men’s 200m earlier on Saturday afternoon when he’ll face fellow Americans Wallace Spearmon and Mark Jelks. It will be only his second 200m of the year after the 19.58 he posted in New York back in May.
“The race in London is important for me as a final (200m) test for the World Championships,” said the 26-year-old. “Another 200m fits perfectly into my preparation for Berlin.”
Gay won the 100m here in 2007 on his way to a double triumph in Osaka, and in 2006 set a stadium record of 19.84 for the 200m, a time beaten last year by Bolt.
Isinbayeva, Majewski and Vlasic
While the men’s sprints will no doubt grab the headlines, the meeting is packed with world-class contests throughout the two-day programme.
Yelena Isinbayeva tops the bill for Friday’s field events. The Russian will be aiming to improve on her 2009 outdoor best of 4.85 in the stadium where she first cleared five metres four years ago. She has set three World records at Crystal Palace and won in London six times, so confidence will be high.
The men’s Shot Put is virtually a world final in miniature with Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland taking on Americans Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson and Dan Taylor and Germany’s Ralf Bartels. Croatian superstar Blanka Vlasic faces Ruth Beita and Amy Acuff in the high jump.
Robles vs Payne; Ohuruogu will be missed
Friday’s track events include Cuba’s World record holder Dayron Robles against USA’s David Payne in the hurdles; Debbie Ferguson against Laverne Jones in the women’s 200m; and Novlene Williams-Mills in a 400m missing the hamstrung world and Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu.
Ohuruogu’s absence will be a major disappointment to British fans, although there should be much for them to cheer, not least Mo Farah’s assault on David Moorcroft’s national 5000m record in a race featuring the Qataris Saif Saaeed Shaheen and Ahmad Hassan Abdullah, Alistair Cragg of Ireland, and the Kenyans Mike Kigen and Bernard Kiplagat.
Phillips Idowu will leap against David Giralt in the men’s Triple Jump, while the two-lap trio of Marilyn Okoro, Jenny Meadows and Jemma Simpson will engage in the latest stage of their battle for domestic 800m supremacy against Ukraine’s Yuliya Krevsun.
Friday could also see the final competitive appearance of a long-time British international, Donna Fraser. The 36-year-old south Londoner, who finished fourth in the 2000 Olympics behind her training partner Cathy Freeman, runs in the 400m B race on her favourite home track.
Dibaba steps back on the track after injury
Come Saturday, attention will shift to the women’s 5000m where Tirunesh Dibaba makes only her second appearance of the season, her first since she was beaten in New York nearly two months ago. The double Olympic champion who missed a 5000m race in Oslo due to injury will be aiming for a fast race to test herself before she tackles both long distances in Berlin.
The Ethiopian has raced just once in London, in 2006, when she set her 3000m PB of 8:29.55. This time the 24-year-old will be accompanied by her older sister Ejegayehu and Belaynesh Fikadu while the antipodeans Kim Smith and Benita Johnson lead the non-Ethiopian challenge.
Debbie Ferguson returns to take on her fellow Bahamian Chandra Sturrup in the 100m where she’ll also face Americans Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and Lauryn Williams; Olympic champion Melaine Walker faces USA’s Lashinda Demus and Australia’s reigning world champion Jana Pittman-Rawlinson in the 400m hurdles; while Lolo Jones will look to continue her fine form in the 100m hurdles against a world class field including Australia’s great hope Sally McLellan and the Canadians Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep.
Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement head the men’s 400m Hurdles line-up; while Britain’s Olympic finalist Martyn Rooney is hoping to secure his Berlin place in the flat 400m against Angelo Taylor and fellow-Briton Michael Bingham.
Global vault head to head - Hooker vs Walker
The men’s Pole Vault could be the pick of Saturday’s field events with another Australian, Olympic champion Steve Hooker, topping a strong field that includes World champion Brad Walker. Former world and Olympic champion Dwight Phillips is the star attraction in the long jump, although the reigning World and Olympic champion Irving Saladino has been forced to withdraw after a training injury this week.
The women’s World Long Jump champion, Tatyana Lebedeva, will be competing, however. The Russian takes on Naides Gomes and Yargelis Savigne. Goldie Sayers will be hoping for inspiration against Germany’s Christina Obergföll in a quality women’s Javelin Throw, the Briton seeking signs of improvement following her early season injury.
Double World champion Bernard Lagat heads the line-up for the coveted Emsley Carr Mile which all-but rounds up the action. It will be followed only by the men’s relay and the possibility of a Bolt v Gay showdown – hardly a bad way to finish what should be two intriguing days of track and field.
Written By: Matthew Brown for the IAAF
Original Article: http://www.iaaf.org/GP09/news/kind=100/newsid=52241.html