KINGSTON (Sporting Alert) — Two of Jamaica’s rising quarter- milers will take on World champion LaShawn Merritt at the 2015 Jamaica International Invitational on Saturday.
Follow live blogging updated from the meet from the National Stadium in Kingston.
Javon Francis, who has been in impressive form for the national team in relays, including a 44.00 anchor leg outing at the recently concluded IAAF World Relays 2015, and schoolboy sensation Akeem Bloomfield, who this season broke the Jamaican junior record, will both lineup in a solid field for the men’s 400m.
Seventeen-year-old Bloomfield comes into this event as the fastest Jamaican, following his 44.93 seconds performance to win at the Jamaica High School championships in March.
The race, however, will see American Merritt starting as the man to beat, despite looking off the pace when finishing fifth in 45.28 at the Drake Relays.
The 2008 Olympic champion, who was a member of the USA winning 4x400m relay team at the World Relays in Bahamas, said after his race in Des Moines, that he wasn’t worried about the time then, as he and his coach had been ‘working on some things.’
He will certainly look to improve on those things in Kinston.
Joining the talented group as well will be Dominican Republic Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos, who has a season best of 45.28secs, Asian record-holder Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Masrahi, who is the quickest in the field, at 44.70 and African record-holder Isaac Makwala of Botswana.
Belgian record-holder Jonathan Borlee, who helped his team set a new national record and win a bronze medal at the World Relays, will be hoping to improve on his seasonal best of 45.82.
Santos is the defending champion of this event from last season, with Merritt finishing a close second place.
Grandian Kirani James, who will not be at the Jamaican International Invitational, leads the world with a time of 44.22.
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In the women’s event, Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross looked impressive on two relay legs in the Bahamas last week, and the American will look to carry over that form into this weekend against a loaded lineup.
Expected to battle with the 30-year-old are a Jamaican trio of Novlene Williams-Mills, a world championships and Olympic finallist, Commonwealth Games champion Stephenie-Ann McPherson and 400m hurdles speciallist Kaliese Spencer.
Great Britain’s world champion Christine Ohuruogu and a very talented USA world indoor champion and world-leader Francena McCorory are also entered in the event and should make things absolutely interesting.
McCorory finished first in this event last year, beating McPherson and Williams-Mills on her way to the top of podium.
Richards-Ross finished fifth the event last year.
Besides the quarter-milers, a host of other sprinters will be in action on Saturday night, including world sprint double champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix of USA and Commonwealth champion Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria.
Powell will race in his second 100m of season when he takes on Americans Justin Gatlin, the quickest of 100m and 200m last season and Ryan Bailey, as well as Commonwealth champion Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nesta Carter.
In the women’s race, 200m specialist Felix will step down in distance to race over the 100m against world-leader Elaine Thompson and 2009 world silver medallist Kerron Stewart, as well as Okagbare.
In the men’s 200m, 2007 world champion Tyson Gay, Commonwealth champion Rasheed Dwyer and Nickel Ashmeade head that list, while Fraser-Pryce, her former MVP clubmate Sherone Simpson, American Tori Bowie and Bahamas’ young star Shaunae Miller lead the starters for the women’s half lap title.
Also competing at the 2015 Jamaica International Invitational are world leader over 110m hurdles Aleec Harris of USA, Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist in that event Hansle Parchment and 2008 Olympic sprint hurdles champion Dawn Harper Nelson.