Rudisha, Van Niekerk headline galaxy of stars

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, June 10, 2017

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World record holders Wayde Van Niekerk and David Rudisha will lead a galaxy of stars on show today inside the National Stadium as they salute the legend Usain Bolt at the JN Racers Grand Prix.

Bolt, 30, the triple world record holder in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay, has been instrumental in putting the Racers Track Club on the global map and today's JN Racers Grand Prix is more than fitting to host his final competitive race in Jamaica.

“This year is very special, in that Racers is dedicating the meet to our flag bearer. The Honourable Usain Bolt has announced that this is his final year of competition and Racers Grand Prix has the distinction that it will be the only and final time he will grace the track at the National Stadium or anywhere in Jamaica,” said his coach Glen Mills.

With that in mind a host of international athletes will be performing and fans will be treated to top-class performances.

South Africa's Van Niekerk, who established the 400m world record in Rio last year, will again be in action, this time running in the 200m at 9:55 pm where he will be challenged by Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain, Jamaica's Warren Weir, Rasheed Dwyer, Jason Young, Nigel Ellis and Jermaine Brown. American Sean McLean completes the field.

Van Niekerk has a season's best of 19.90, which makes him the second fastest in the world this season and the quickest in this field. It will be interesting to see what kind of form Jamaica's Olympic bronze medallist, Weir, is in at the moment, while Hughes could be the fly in the ointment to upset the applecart.

David Rudisha, who will be competing in Jamaica for the first time, is the current 800m world record holder with 1:40.91 minutes and arguably the greatest at this distance.

He will want to lay down a marker in the country that his father participated in the Commonwealth Games in 1966 and although his season's best of 1:45.36 is actually the third best in this field and 13th best in the world this year, Rudisha should pack too many punches for his rivals.

American Erik Sowinski with a time of 1:45.23 is the 10th best in the world and the fastest in this race and he along with Kenya's Willy Tarbei (1:45.34) should make the race interesting.

The great American Allyson Felix will line up in the 400m at 9:00 pm where she takes on Jamaica's Shericka Jackson in a rematch of the Rio Olympics final, where they won silver and bronze medals, respectively. The improving Verone Chambers, Christine Day, Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby, along with American Courtney Okolo complete the line-up.

One of the greatest distance runners of all time, Mo Farah, will grace the Jamaican track for the first time when he takes on 11 others in the 3,000m at 9:30 pm.

Jamaica's Kemoy Campbell, who has a 7:44.90 minutes clocking, is the fastest in the field this year, while Farah's 7:51.83 puts him in at 27th in the world. Alfred Barkach, Collins Cheboi and Nixon Chepseba of Kenya; Americans Roy Hunter and Jordon McNamara, Australian duo Pat Tiernan and Sam McEntree and Bashir Abdi of Belgium complete the line-up.

All eyes will be focused on the triple jump pit at 8:30 pm where American double Olympic and World Champion Christian Taylor could soar to over 18m for the first time in Jamaica. Recently, he jumped 18.11 at the Prefontaine Classic and with a personal best of 18.21, which is just eight centimetres outside of Jonathan Edward's 1995 world record of 18.29m; history could be made on Jamaica soil.

Taylor will be pushed by Americans Donald Scott and Josh Honeycutt with seasonal bests of 17.01 and 16.37m, respectively. Nigeria's Toshin Oke with 16.67m along with Leevan Sands of The Bahamas and the local contingent comprising Damion McLean, Wilbert Walker and Carey McLeod of Kingston College.

A crack women's 100m hurdles event will highlight the return to form of Australia's Olympic champion Sally Pearson, Jamaica's 2015 World champion Danielle Williams, along with Americans Sharika Nelvis and Nia Ali.

Jamaica's rising star Shashalee Forbes' mettle will be tested in the women's International 100m event at 7:55 pm where she will line up against Americans Jenna Prandini, Barbara Pierre, English Gardner and Candice Hill, as well as fellow Jamaican Natasha Morrison, Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago and Angela Tenorio of Ecuador.




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