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Gardener joins star-studded 100m lineup in Gateshead

25 May 2006

By Gary Smith and Lindell Thorpe

Great Britain's Olympic relay gold medallist Jason Gardener will contest the men's 100-metres dash at the Union British Grand Prix in Gateshead, London on June 11, meet organizers announced on Wednesday.

The former World Indoor and two-times European Indoor 60m champion will make his return to the track after being sideline with a back problem during the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, in March.

Gardener, who holds a personal best time of 9.98 seconds, will join co-world record holders Justin Gatlin, the World and Olympic champion and Asafa Powell of Jamaica, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the star-studded lineup.

Since setting his career best in 1999, the British no.1 has failed to get his stride on in the outdoor season, despite several impressive indoor campaigns.

In his last six completed seasons, tracking back to 2000, the 30-year-old "Bath" sprinter, however, has managed to run consistently, clocking 10.09, 10.23, 10.13, 10.17, 10.12 and 10.08, but a persistent lower back injury ended his quest for gold at the quarter-final stage of the Commonwealth Games. He currently has a 10.41 best time so far this season.

The well anticipated 100m show-down between Powell and Gatlin will also feature Gardener's fellow Olympic relay gold medallists Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis.

Emerging Britain sprinter Tim Abeyie, who is being coached by sprint legend Linford Christie, will also bring his recent 10.29 personal best competition form in the dash.

The race in Gateshead will mark the first time joint record holders Gatlin and Powell will clash in almost a year, and according to the meet organisers the head-on match up has already attracted one of the big track and field audience this season.

Both sprinters will race in separate short sprint races at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on May 28.

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