All eyes will be on multiple Olympic and World Championships medallist Usain Bolt, as he makes his first European outing of the season at the 54th Golden Spikes meeting in Ostrava, on Tuesday May 26th.
The current world record holder in both the 100/200m has made it six wins out of six appearances at the IAAF World Challenge Competition, and is confident of achieving a seventh win in the 200m, which is his third in this series and the first for this year. He also holds the Meeting Records (MR) in the 200m (19.83s) and 300m (30.97s) respectively at the competition.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Bolt explained that he is in “much better shape” than he was for his early season races, as he will focus primarily on the 200m this season, something he believes will also boost his performances over 100m: “I plan to use as many races as possible to get in shape for this year’s World Championships, which is the ‘big one’”, he said.
Incidentally, current World No.2 and countryman, Asafa Powell will be competing in the 100m against the likes of Great Britain’s Richard Kilty. Powell has had a good start to the season, running a then World Lead (WL) of 9.84s in Kingston Jamaica, and is in good shape to erase the MR of 9.83s.
The impressive form of fierce rival, USA’s Justin Gatlin has created more suspense ahead of the World Championships, after he ran a Personal Best (PB) and World Leading mark of 9.74s in Doha two weeks ago, unseating Powell as the world No1. As such, athletics fans will be waiting with bated breath as the two-time 100m/200m World Champion runs at the Mestsky Stadium on Tuesday.
Also competing in Ostrava would be current Olympic Champion and world record holder David Rudisha who would also open his European campaign over 600m, where he has the fourth fastest time over this distance (1:13.71).
The world women’s 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova will be competing on home soil in her first race of the year and will go against African champion, South Africa’s Wenda Nel, who set a PB and World Lead (WL) of 54.37s after coasting to victory ahead of Olympic Silver medallist Lashinda Demus and her US compatriot Tiffany Williams at the IAAF World Challenge in Beijing last week.
The world No.3 and No.4 in the women’s 100m hurdles will be engaged in a battle of superiority. Sharika Nelvis of the USA ran a PB of 12.54s after finishing second behind world leader and country woman, Jasmine Stowers in Doha, and is set for European champion, Tiffany Porter who came third in the same race in 12.65s, despite having a Season’s Best (SB) of 12.56s.