Fraser-Pryce, Felix 200m clash to highlight JII meet
THE 11th staging of the Jamaica International Invitational (JII) track and field meet will be glittering with a plethora of Olympic and World Championships stars, which will be highlighted by the clash between Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Allison Felix over 200 metres.
That eagerly anticipated clash did not materialise at the 2013 World Championships after Felix, three times World Championships 200m champion, pulled up injured when Fraser-Pryce was in full flight and well on her way to victory.
Now fans will get a chance to witness it live at the National Stadium on Saturday, May 3.
Don Quarrie, the meet director and athlete liaison, said he expects a lot of world-leading times and both Fraser-Pryce and Felix had no problem being pitted against each other this early in the season.
"When I first explained to them that you guys may have to run together, they sad they don't mind," said Quarrie.
"Allison was here last year and was not very happy with her performance in the 100m and we will see a very outstanding race between the two," Quarrie noted.
That race will also have Americans Kimberlyn Duncan and Tiffany Townsend, along with Jamaican Samantha Henry-Robinson.
The JII that was established in 2004, has a budget of US$1.35m and based on the quality that will be on display this year, Quarrie believes it could be the best ever.
"I think this year we are fortunate to have one of the best line-ups in many of the events. We have a lot of medal winners from both the Olympics and the World Championships outdoors and indoors. We have a lot of top 10 ranked athletes competing and I am sure that the performances will produce some world best times," he told the Jamaica Observer.
"We are looking forward to such competitiveness that we want our youngsters to look at it in a fashion of one day, I want to compete at the Jamaica Invitational. That's what it's all about. We are not just putting on a show just because it covers excitement for spectators. It covers tourism, it covers motivation and overall, it covers development in Jamaica."
Apart from Fraser-Pryce and Felix, there will be Olympic champions Sanya Richards-Ross of the USA, Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain, Francene McCorory, McLeshawn Merrit, Lequelin Santos of Dominican Republic, Justin Gatlin, Walter Dix, Antonio McKay, Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria, Americans Alexandria Anderson, English Gardner, Brianna Rollins and Curtis Mitchell to take on the might of Jamaica.
The women's pole vault event has been added to the meet that is expected to start at 5:40 pm and last four hours in a tight, efficient and exciting schedule.
But in terms of quality, Quarrie, the 1976 Olympic 200m champion, believes the women's 400m is the race that has everything.
"This race has the Olympic champion in 2012; the world champion in 2013; the World Indoor champion in 2014; two finalists from the Olympics and two finalists from the World Championships.
"In other words, it will be very difficult to decide where you going to put some of these people as far as the lanes are concerned," he added.
That race will have Olympic champions Sanya Richards-Ross of the US and Ohuruogu. McCorory, the newly crowned World Indoor champion over 400m, will make her debut in Kingston. McCorory is an Olympic gold medallist in the 4x400m and the American indoor record holder in the 400m.
Jamaica will be represented by the emerging Stephanie McPherson, veteran Novlene Williams-Mills, Rosemarie Whyte, and Kaliese Spencer.
"This field is going to be a stellar field. I just can't wait to see the race," said Quarrie.
The women's 100m will be contested by Jamaica's Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart and she will take on the powerful Blessing Okagbare from Nigeria, Americans Alexandria Anderson and English Gardner, along with Schillonie Calvert and Sherri-Ann Brooks.
American Justin Gatlin has promised only victory in Jamaica and he will start favourite to beat an improved-looking Nesta Carter, Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, American Walter Dix, who is just returning from injury, Daniel Bailey and German Martin Keller.
Curtis Mitchell, the 200m bronze medallist from the Moscow World Championships, will make his JII debut in the 200m. He has a personal best of 19.97 seconds and will line up against fellow American Isaiah Young, Jamaicans Rasheed Dyer, Jason Young and Julian Forte.