The 100m clashes, with multiple world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce against the talented Blessing Okagbare and the Jamaican pair of Nesta Carter and Warren Weir versus US sprinter Justin Gatlin, will highlight the Jamaica International Invitational, an IAAF World Challenge Meeting, on Saturday (3).
Much of the attention is focused on the diminutive powerhouse Fraser-Pryce, who is having her first serious outdoor outing of the year – not counting the special 60m she ran in Kingston back in February – after a super-successful indoor season which culminated in her winning the 60m title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in March in a world-leading time of 6.98.
In addition to Fraser-Pryce’s plethora of medals from major championships, including winning three golds at last summer’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, the 100m head-to-head record between the pair is 12-3, Okagbare’s last win coming at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London just before Moscow 2013.
Adding competitiveness to the 100m field will be Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart, and two quick US sprinters, English Gardner and Alexandria Anderson, the latter pair finishing first and second in the 2013 US Championships and both running well under 11 seconds last season.
Weir aiming to dampen US sprinters' ambitions
In the men’s 100m, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Walter Dix will be added to the field to face Gatlin, Carter and the world and Olympic 200m silver medallist Weir, who has indicated he intends to run more 100m races in the future.
The men's and women’s 400m races are the night’s other hot events.
Jamaica’s Stephenie McPherson, who won in Kingston 12 months ago, will try to upstage USA’s Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross and world indoor champion Francena McCorory.
"I am very excited to come back to Jamaica," said Richards-Ross recently. "It's going to be my first meet and I am looking forward to competing. I'm not sure where I will be at that point but I'm hoping to have a great showing there to prepare myself for the remainder of the season and the 2015, 2016 seasons."
Jamaica’s rising quarter miler Javere Bell and his comaptriots will be hoping to match strides with Olympic bronze medallist Luguelin Santos of Dominican Republic and the USA’s world champion LaShawn Merritt over one lap of the National Stadium.
The women’s 200m will feature Jamaica’s Anneisha McLaughlin against US sprinters Kimberlyn Duncan and Jeneba Tarmoh.
Jamaica's Olympic 110m hurdles bronze medallist Hansle Parchment, who opened with a world-leading run of 13.14 at the Drake Relays in the USA last Saturday, faces world silver medallist Ryan Wilson and world indoor champion Omo Osaghae, as well as another local man, Andrew Riley.