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Powell, Spearmon and Wariner highlight Prefontaine Classic 200m field

9 June 2007

By Gary Smith

World record holder Asafa Powell is set to get strong test in his second international meeting since being back from injury when he takes on the inform Wallace Spearmon and current 400m king Jeremy Wariner from the US in a start-studded 200m field at the 2007 Prefontaine Classic at the Hayward Field Eugene, Ore., on June 10, 2007.

Back from injury and will be tested

After being sidelined with a knee tendonitis, Powell returned to clock a world-leading 9.97 seconds to win the 100m in Belgrade, Serbia, which means he's back to some form and one can expect a strong performance from him on Sunday.

On the other hand, Spearmon has dominated to half-lap this season and has proven this with two sizzling sub-20 seconds clockings against top-class competitors this year. The American’s recent performance was a cracking 19.82, which he used to shake of the challenges of Jamaica's World Junior record holder Usain Bolt at the Reebok Grand Prix last weekend.

The American world silver medallist also has a flashing 19.91, accomplished when winning at the Adidas Classic in Carson, last month.

While Powell (19.90) and Spearmon (19.65) have already dipped under the prestigious 20-second barrier, Wariner, whose personal best is 20.19, has developed significantly since running that career best last season and he is expected to land a big performance, especially with him targeting Michael Johnson's 400m World record.

Ready to leave familiar zone

Powell hates the fact that he has to now step out of his comfort zone to run the less favoured half-lap. However, the speedster who ran his personal best last season is confident he can also produce in the half-lap as well.

"If it was up to me, I’d stick with more 100s," he recalled after winning the 100m in the Serbian capital last Tuesday. "But I can run a fast 200," Powell said, while adding that he has been training harder than he has before.

Apart from Spearmon and Wariner, Powell will also be tested by another American, Xavier Carter, the second fastest ever in the history of running the 200m, and though he is not quite in the same form as last season, he has the talent to produce at anytime.

Olympic champion Shawn Crawford (20.21), who ran a 9.96 in the 100m last weekend and 2001 world silver medallist Chris Williams (20.17) of Jamaica, are also listed to compete.

Sinclair and Mutola to battle again – Jepkosgei too

Last season, Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair made legend Maria Mutola of Mozambique work hard to pick up her 14th straight win and her 9th in the 800m at the meeting, and this season is set for another battle as both are again entered.

Returning as the top two finishers in the 800m for the past two years Mutola and Sinclair are set to continue their strong battle on the world scene.

At last year's meeting was set to avenge her defeat to the Mozambique star in 2005, but was charged down in the last 40 metres as Mutola took the race in 1:58.86.

This year Sinclair has returned stronger and more determined to win which could make a huge difference this term. Meanwhile, Mutola, the only woman to break 1:59.00 this season has a world-best of 1:58.79, while Sinclair has a best of 1:59.19.

The race is even more appetising as it also includes Kenyan Commonwealth Games champion Janeth Jepkosgei - a woman who defeated both Mutola and Sinclair when winning the title in Melbourne, Australia, last March.

American Hazel Clark (1:59.07) and Nicole Teter (1:59.91) are also included in a field that could push to break the long standing 1:57.57 meet record set by Mutola in 1995.

Testing time ahead for Kirk and Foster-Hylton

In the men's race Trinidad and Tobago's Sherridan Kirk (1:46.50) will have to find his best form if he's to match the speed and strength of the strong competitive field.

The lineup includes Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy, who finished second in 2005 and the fourth fastest man this season in American Khadevis Robinson, who has run 1:45.40. Also entered is Canadian Gary Reed, the man who defeated Borzakovskiy two-years-ago.

Another strong field has been set up for the women's 100m Hurdles. Heading the list of competitors is world and defending champion Michelle Perry of USA, Commonwealth Games champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton and the in-form Virginia Powell.

Powell produced a blistering 12.45secs to enter the event as the current world-leader and if her performances in the last two meetings are any indications of how she will perform in Oregon, then she will be a handful, even for fellow countrywoman Perry and the experienced Foster-Hylton.

Stocked 400m field ready to go

Former Commonwealth Games champion Michael Blackwood and Jamaicans Shericka Williams and Kaliese Spencer will race in the men's and women's 400m dashes.

Blackwood took this event in 2005, but had to settle for third last year and with a season's best of 45.37 and improving with every run, he will be one of the contenders in line to win this event.

However, the big favourites in the race will definitely be Americans Angelo Taylor (44.35), LaShawn Merritt (44.95) and African record holder Gary Kikaya (44.60), while Canadian world bronze medal winner Tyler Christopher, who shocked a strong field at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, last week, will again start the outsider.

Two-time world indoor champion Alleyne Francique of Grenada, Olympic relay gold medal winner Darold Williamson and world 400m Hurdles champion are the other competitors in the lineup.

Sanya Richards, the world of the year is set to run in her first competitive 400m this outdoor season.

Apart from the Jamaicans Richards’ other challenges will come from former world champion Ana Guevara (MEX), Dee Dee Trotter (USA) and Monique Henderson (USA).

Other top name athletes listed to compete are Chinese world record holder Liu Xiang and world champion French star Ladji Doucour?, who are set to join Americans Allen Johnson and Dominique Arnold in the men’s 110m Hurdles, Bahamian Lavern Eve, who will face a strong field in the women’s Javelin Throw as well as a host of top name Kenyans in the men’s mile.

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