With Penn in the rear view mirror it’s now time for things to start truly heating up. The Diamond League will debut in just about 2 weeks time in Doha, Qatar on May 14th. But the sprints will get a head start as several top sprinters will take to the track this weekend in Kingston Jamaica. While many were on the track at Penn stretching out in various relay events, this time the action will take place in individual events, as the season now begins in earnest.
Kingston will give us out first look at both Tyson Gay (US) and Usain Bolt (JAM) in the same venue – although in different events. Gay will run another 400 while Bolt will run his first 200 of the season. Be sure that even though they are in different events, the comparisons will start here as I’m sure both will lay down significant marks. Kingston will also see the first 100 of the season for Carmelita Jeter, who became history’s #2 all time in the event last year.
Following is a look at what should be the hottest races in Kingston.
Men’s 200 – WR holder Usain Bolt will make his season’s debut in the deuce. Bolt will be the odds on favorite but look for strong races from American’s Wallace Spearmon and Ryan Bailey. Spearmon, who has been battling with injuries the past couple of seasons has looked good early with a strong relay leg in Texas and a world leading 20.20 in this event at Drake. Spearmon’s PR 19.65 makes him the 5th fastest man ever in the event and he’s always a threat to run sub20 when in form. Bailey is the new kid on the block looking to make a name for himself as he takes on the big boys in his first season as a pro. An early 10.09/20.40 double in Texas followed up by a strong relay leg and 10.15 100 win at Penn say this young man should hold his own in this field. Look for a new PR from Bailey. The race should go to Bolt however. Expect a new world leader in the 19.80/19.90 range.
Men’s 400 – While Bolt runs the deuce Tyson Gay will take another crack at the quarter. Gay opened last season with two 400 meter races before running the shorter sprints and seems to be taking the same approach to this season. Tyson’s first 400 in Florida dropped his previous best from 45.57 to an eye opening 44.89. Running a sprinters races pattern, Gay lead from the gun barely losing in the final strides to a hard charging Calvin Smith down the final straight. He will once again face strong opposition in Kingston as World Indoor champ Chris Brown (BAH, 44.40) and World Outdoor bronze medalist Renny Quow (Tri, 44.53) are sure to give him all he can handle. If Gay can execute a more quarter miler like race it’s possible he could see something in the 44.50 range.
Women’s 100 – While the top 100 men will be running the long sprints, this event features an early season showdown between two of the world’s best in Carmelita Jeter (US) and Kerron Stewart (JAM). Stewart won silver in this event in both Beijing and Berlin, while Jeter won bronze in Osaka and Berlin. Jeter’s bronze in Berlin, however, was a blip on what was a stellar season that saw her with six races under 10.90 headed with two (10.64 & 10.67) under 10.70. Stewart had three races of her own under 10.90 (10.75, 10.75 & 10.84) and although countrywoman Shelly Ann Fraser has twice beaten both for gold in majors, Stewart and Jeter may just be the two fastest women in the world. With no major on the docket this year this race could be the start of a major matchup on the season. Certainly the potential exists for a sub 11.00 Saturday.
Women’s 200 – Another hot head to head matchup comes in this event as Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM) and Sanya Richards (US) go toe to toe in Campbell Brown’s pet event. Veronica has twice won gold in the Games and twice silver at Worlds. She and Allyson Felix (US) are easily the event’s premier competitors today. Richards is the World Champion over 400 meters and runs this event well (PR 22.17) when she does. And with no title to run for this year, Richards has said she will run the 200 a bit more, so I would expect her to be ready to run this race well. A classic matchup pitting Campbell Brown’s speed (10.85 100 PR) against Richards strength (48.70 400 PR). Campbell Brown already leads the world this year at 22.32 so the time should be a bit faster – perhaps 22.20ish. Not sure who else is entered but with Kerron Stewart confirmed in the 100, if she ends up in this event she could potentially help push the early race faster and a faster time could ensue – and she could possibly beat both.
Sprint wise, Kingston should be a great prelude to the Diamond League clashes that lie ahead. It will be nice to see these athletes begin to open things up a bit!