The evening of Saturday May 1 should be one of exciting rivalry and intriguing contrasts, highlighting the world’s fastest man and woman, at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Among the galaxy of stars lining up for the JN Jamaica International Invitational is the phenomenal Usain Bolt, who served notice as a fifteen-year-old prodigy at that venue eight years ago, and the late bloomer Carmelita Jeter of the United States of America.

Ms Jeter will be on a mission to underline her startling achievements last year, at almost twice Bolt’s age on his first introduction to the world. In 2009, she lowered an unremarkable personal best over 100 metres by an amazing one-third of a second to 10.64 seconds, thus becoming the world’s fastest live woman and the second fastest in history.

In the process, she left in her wake two young Jamaican superstars – Shelly-Ann Fraser and Kerron Stewart – who had outclassed her earlier in the IAAF Berlin World Championships.

Ms Jeter has peaked at a stage when most track and field athletes are fine-tuning their retirement plans. She will inevitably be under the microscope at the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics to see if she has a problem competing in major championship finals after three qualifying rounds. In successive World Championships – 2007 and 2009 – she earned 100-metre bronze medals, yet triumphed over all-comers in the one-off World Athletic Finals that followed.

Ms Jeter will not have the big issue to contend with in Saturday’s single race, which is expected to be simply an enticing duel between two notoriously slow starters and fast finishers. Will Carmelita Jeter repeat her late-2009 dominance over Kerron Stewart? Will Ms Stewart reassert Jamaican sprinting supremacy? Or will they be upset by any of the other notables facing the starter in the 100 metres? Those include Aileen Bailey, Olympic and World Championships sprint relay gold medallist; Simone Facey, World Championships sprint relay gold medallist; and Bahamian Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, Olympic and World Championships individual and relay gold medallist.

Other women’s events

The women’s 200 metres will pit Jamaica’s highest-flying female global athletics champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown, against, among others, Sanya Richards-Ross, whose greatness at 400 metres has masked her stature as an outstanding all-round sprinter with at least one sub-11 seconds clocking in the 100 metres; a personal best of 22.17 in the 200 metres; and consistent annual Top 10 ratings in the latter event by Track & Field News.

In the 100-metres hurdles, Delloreen Ennis-London will match leaps and strides with British 400-metre hurdler Tasha Danvers. Novlene Williams-Mills will be the principal Jamaican standard-bearer in the women’s 400 metres, which will also include the American duo of Dee Dee Trotter (personal best of 49.64 seconds) and Monica Hargrove (personal best of 50.39 seconds).

Men’s events

Ms Hargrove is the fiancée of American sprinter Wallace Spearmon, who will be one of the awesome Usain Bolt’s rivals in the men’s 100 metres. Others challenging Bolt will include Trinidad & Tobago’s Richard Thompson, Bolt’s runner-up in the Beijing Olympics; the American Darvis Patton and Jamaicans Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, Nesta Carter and Marvin Anderson.

Another headliner at the meet will be the second fastest man ever, Tyson Gay, whose recent run of 44.89 over 400 metres has made him the first athlete in history to clock sub 10 seconds in the 100 metres, sub 20 seconds in the 200 metres and sub 45 seconds over 400 metres; and therefore arguably the greatest-ever all-round sprinter. Gay will be in an intriguing contest with the accomplished Bahamian Chris Brown (personal best 44.40); Rennie Quow of Trinidad & Tobago, bronze medallist in the Berlin World Championships, and with a 44.53 personal best; and Jamaicans Jermaine Gonzales and Ricardo Chambers.

Olympic and World Championship credentials will take centre-stage in the 400-metres hurdles when the Jamaican pair of Danny McFarlane and Richard Phillips tackle the American two-time World Champion and Olympic silver medallist, Trinidad-born Kerron Clement.

And the World Champion shot putter, Christian Cantwell of the United States, will be challenged by Jamaica’s Maurice Smith, who was the decathlon silver medallist at the 2007 World Championships.

The gates will open at the National Stadium on Saturday at 2.00 p.m. for the 7.00 p.m. meet. Spectators will be treated to a musical concert which will start at 4.00 p.m.

The seventh annual Jamaica International Invitational meet, organised by the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA), is a world athletic area permit meet of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF).

[Via Jamaica National]

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