Double Rio Olympics sprint champion Elaine Thompson and 2011 World 100m champion Yohan Blake will attract most attention at Saturday’s Jamaica Invitational, an IAAF World Challenge Meeting, in Kingston.
Thompson is expected to make light work of the women’s 200m. She is in top form this season, winning the 200m in Doha with 22.19 and 100m in Shanghai with 10.78. Shericka Jackson, the Beijing World Championships and Rio 400m bronze medallist, is expected to improve on her 22.57 personal best done in April at the UTech Classic. Jamaican Jura Levy and Bahamian Tynia Gaither are the other Caribbean women while Shalonda Solomon and Candyce McGrone are USA hopefuls.
Blake, who is running back into top form after injuries slowed him down over the past two years, will face a competitive men’s 100m field.
American Mike Rodgers, who ran 10.08 to win in Guadeloupe on Wednesday, Commonwealth Games champion Kemar Bailey-Cole, Julian Forte, Nesta Carter and Jevaughn Minzie, along with Emmanuel Callender of Trinidad and Tobago are also in the field.
In the women’s 100m, American super woman Allyson Felix, who has won global medals at 100m, 200m and 400m, heads this field. She is yet to run this season, which means she won’t have things easy against Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jamaicans Christania Williams, Schillonie Calvert-Powell and Gayon Evans. Jenna Prandini, however, is the woman to beat. She is coming off a sprint double victory in Guadeloupe on Wednesday.
The men’s 200m, one of the hottest races on the card, will be a showdown between Canadian Rio silver medallist Andre De Grasse, American LaShawn Merritt and Zharnell Hughes of Great Britain.
Jamaicans Rasheed Dwyer and Nickel Ashmeade will also be challenging, so too their countrymen, Warren Weir, Chad Walker and Nigel Ellis.
The women’s 100m hurdles, as is the case in world track and field, will be the most competitive at this meet. The field includes, Jamaican world champion Danielle Williams and American Rio 2016 silver medallist Sherika Nelvis. Adding other top Americans Jasmine Stowers and Nia Ali, along with Shermaine Williams and Megan Simmonds, will make the event even more intriguing.
Danielle said she is in pretty good shape, and is ready for the contest. “I am expecting myself to go out and execute the things I’m working on in practice and give a good account of myself.”
“I know once I execute to the best of my ability I will be up there, if not winning…..in the top three and definitely running a good time,” Danielle said.
Stower too is excited about the race, saying “I am running season best every race, so I once again hope to drop down.” “It’s a good competition here, great track and fans, so it should be great,” Stowers added.
Novlene Williams-Mills, Jamaica’s longest serving quarter-miler, and American Natasha Hastings are the favourites for the women’s 400m.
However, the field will also include other Americans in Phyllis Francis and Courtney Okolo, along with Jamaicans Anneisha McLaughlin-Wilby and Christine Day, who are expected to be in the top mix.
In the men’s race, Jamaicans Demish Gaye, Martin Manley, Colin King, Jamari Rose and Jermaine Gayle take on American Tony McQuay and Kevin Borlee of Belguim.
Andrew Riley, Deuce Carter and Ronald Levy are the Jamaicans down for the men’s 110m hurdles. They will face USA’s Ronnie Ash and Jarred Eaton.
Bershawn Jackson and Michael Tinsley are the top Americans in the men’s 400m hurdles, but Jamaicans Jaheel Hyde and Ricardo Cunningham, along with Javier Culson might have other ideas.
Jamaicans Natoya Goule, Kamaria McDonald and Samantha James will be in the women’s 800m, Aisha Praught in the 3,000m steeplechase.
Kemoy Campbell is down for the men’s 1500m.
Kimberly Williamson of Jamaica and Lavern Spencer of St. Lucia, are Caribbean entrants in the women’s high jump, while Ayana Alexander of T&T, Bahamian Tamara Myers and Jamaican Shanieka Ricketts go in the women’s triple jump.
Fedrick Dacres, Travis Smikle, Jason Morgan, Basil Bingham and Chad Wright are the Jamaicans listed for the men’s discus.
Kateema Rietti and Olivia Leckford are the Jamaicans to contest the women’s javelin.