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Powell, Gatlin lead superstars for Prefontaine Classic

26 May 2006

By Gary Smith and Samantha Lopez

It may not be a head-to-head clash, but the gala between joint world record holders Asafa Powell of Jamaica and Justin Gatlin of USA will headline this year's Prefontaine Classic, an IAAF World Athletics Tour meeting on Sunday, May 28 at the Hayward Field in Eugene.

A point to prove in separate races

Gatlin equalled Powell's world record of 9.77 seconds at the Qatar Super Grand Prix on May 12 and he looks to be in good form. Despite running in separate heats, both runners will have a point to prove, especially with their big show-down in Gateshead, London, drawing closer.

At the 2005 meeting, Gatlin and Powell raced in an almost dead heat with both runners clocking a wind-aided 9.84sec, but the American was given the nod.

The two, though, being the headliners in their respective heats, will face stiff challenges from Caribbean sprinters Dwight Thomas of Jamaica and Marc Burns of Trinidad and Tobago, who clocked 10.04 for third at the Adidas Track Classic.

Also taking part in the event are Gatlin and Thomas' training partner Shawn Crawford, the reigning Olympic 200m champion, World silver medallist Michael Frater, the training partner of Powell, Leonard Scott, the World Indoor 60m champion and Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, who is the Olympic silver medallist in the 100m.

Simpson trying her luck at the dash

After two impressive 200m outings, which saw her defeating Veronica Campbell on both occasions, in-form Sherone Simpson of Jamaica heads the women's race.

Joining Simpson in the event is 2006 Commonwealth Games champion Sheri Brooks (JAM), former world champion Torri Edwards, former American champion LaTasha Colander (USA) and Bahamian veteran Chandra Sturrup.

Spearmon warming up for Bolt clash

Fresh from his victory in Carson last Sunday, world silver medallist Wallace Spearmon will warm up for his clash with World Junior record holder Usain Bolt at the Reebok Grand Prix with another run over the half-lap.

With Jamaican Ainsley Waugh and Rodney Martin (USA) entered in the event, Michael Johnson's meet record of 20.15 is well under threat, especially after Spearmon's world-leading 20.06 run at the Adidas Track Classic.

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