2012 Prefontaine Classic provides live Olympic tests

EUGENE, Ore. (Sporting Alert) — Another world-class group has been assembled for Saturday’s day two of the 2012 Prefontaine Classic – an IAAF Diamond League meeting.

The meeting will be televised live and is available on NBC, others can watch on UniversalSports.com as well as for Canadian viewers on CBCSports.ca

The meeting will see several high-profiled match-ups, including that of Americans Walter Dix against Justin Gatlin in the men’s 100, Grenada’s Kirani James against LaShawn Merritt in the 400m and a load men’s 110m hurdles field.

Dix will continue his preparation for the U.S. Olympic trials with a sprint double here in Eugene and will clash with Gatlin, the fastest American so far this season over the 100m.

Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade, who recently ran 9.97-seconds, his countryman Nesta Carter, USA’s Mike Rodgers and Darvis Patton – will also be in the straightaway dash.

The world leading time in this event is a sizzling 9.76secs, second by world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica in Rome on Thursday. Bolt, however, will not be on show, neither will American Tyson Gay and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell.

The 200m rivals for Dix include, Wallace Spearmon, the second of the only two athletes below 20-seconds this season and the quickest American this term, as well as Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, Netherlands Antilles’ Churandy Martina, Jamaica’s Marvin Anderson and Trinidad and Tobago’s Rondel Sorrillo.

World 100m champion Carmelita Jeter step up her preparation for the trials with another 200m clash, this time she’ll be tested by her fellow American teammate Allyson Felix.

Felix, who posted a 10.92secs personal best for 100m this season, is yet to decide on what event or events she’ll compete in at the trials, but is preparing for the best option.

“The 100m is still a possibility,” Felix, who contested the 200/400 double at last year’s World Championships., said.

“The 100 and the 400m are still on the table for me. And I think after my race in New York then we will sit down and make a final decision – Bobby Kersee and me.”

“The 400m is an event I am not as comfortable with. I just haven’t run it on the world stage that many times. I am still working on the whole strategy part of it and committing to that.

“That’s the hard part of the 400m. Then the 100m is such a quick race and it’s so technical executing it and putting everything together at the right time.”

And speaking of the 400m – there are two star-studded line-ups on the cards.

The women’s setup with see world champion Amantle Montsho tackling American Sanya Richards-Ross, the world indoor champion.

Richards-Ross is the second fastest in the world this season, but this could change after today.

“My coach has backed me off a little bit so I can run really well here,” Richards-Ross said. “But our main goal here is to have fun and just see where I’m at.”

She added: “I would love to get the world leading time, depending on the conditions, but most importantly I would like to beat this field.”

Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, the world-leader this season and an athlete who has defeated both Richards-Ross and Montsho already this term, as well as countrywoman Shericka Williams and USA’s Natasha Hastings will be strong competition for the title.

The men’s race will be equally competitive with Merritt, James and Jeremy Wariner coming together for the first time this season.

There is no doubt that the winner here on Saturday will take a massive boost into their preparation for the Olympics, with Merritt, who has a sizzling world-best this year of 44.19 – starting as the man to beat.

World champion James, whose fastest this season is 44.72, has a personal best of 44.36, so he knows that a big performance has to be on the card for him and he’s targeting his best mark.

“I am just trying to improve upon my PB,” he said. “As long as I do that I am sure I am on the right track leading up to the Olympics.

“I don’t think this field could get any more talent. I commend the meet organisers for putting together such a great field. I expect it to be very competitive and very fast.

Meeting director Tom Jordan said on Friday that this is the “best fields ever assembled on American soil” and one would struggle not to believe this.

The men’s 100m hurdles field will see the likes of Xiang Liu, Aries Merritt, Jason Richardson, Dexter Faulk and David Oliver all in good form and capable of winning.

“It’s crazy how many great races there are,” sprinter Felix said. “I’m really looking forward to the men’s hurdles.”

Amongst the many other top athletes expected to be on show are Bernard Lagat, Silas Kiplagat, Abubaker Kaki, Mo Farah and Kenenisa Bekele.

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