KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sporting Alert – Sprinter Asafa Powell will start as the favourite to win the men’s 200m at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston on Saturday, following the withdrawal of Canada’s Andre De Grasse.
Powell, a former world-record holder over the 100m, opened his 2016 campaign in the 200m with a 20.51 seconds performance in Texas, last month, but before that the Jamaican sprinter had not run a competitive half lap race since 2011.
The 2008 Olympic Games 4x100m relay gold medallist has a personal best of 19.90 in the event, set in 2006.
However, in his last outing over the distance at the Jamaica International Invitational five-years-ago at the National Stadium, Powell trailed home last in 21.40
With De Grasse opted to skip this meeting, which is one of the events in the IAAF World Challenge series, Powell’s main challenges should come from fellow countryman Rasheed Dwyer, the Pan American Games silver medallist who has three sub-20 seconds performances to his name, including two last year when he ran his personal best of 19.80 in Toronto.
De Grasse, the IAAF World Championships bronze medallists from Beijing, last year, has a personal best of 19.88 and 2016 best of 20.23, and the Pan American Games sprint double champion was expected to push the local men towards a quick time in Kingston.
Meanwhile, the men’s 100m is loaded with young and experienced talents.
IAAF 2007 triple world champion Tyson Gay of USA is among the leading contenders looking to get their Olympic Games preparation campaigns underway.
The American, though, should have his hands full on the night, against fellow countryman Mike Rodgers and Jamaicans Kemar Bailey-Cole, Julian Forte and Oshane Bailey.
Bailey-Cole, who trains at the same track club as world record holder Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake here in Kingston, is returning after a bad injury interrupted his season last year.
Forte, another of the country’s bright young talents, had an impressive campaign last year in both the 100m and 200m and the 22-year-old will be one of the men to watch this weekend.
Note: Racquel Smith in Kingston, Jamaica, also contributed to this article