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Felix, Gay, Wariner all ready for big meet

17 May 2008

By Dave Ungrady

The Adidas Track Classic scheduled for May 18 will feature many of the top global athletes. World champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica headlines a field in the women's 100 meters that also includes Americans Allyson Felix, Lauryn Williams, Torri Edwards, Sanya Richards and Carmelita Jeter. World champion Tyson Gay will battle his former college teammate Wallace Spearmon, Jr. and others in the men's 100 meters. World champion silver medalist Terrence Trammell will face former Olympic gold medalist Allen Johnson in the 110-meter hurdles.

The men's 400 meters could provide the most drama. The favorite is Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner, who has not lost in the race since September 2005. Since then, Wariner has won 25 consecutive races, including two this year with a season's best 44.56.

Wariner pulled out of a 200-meter race last week at the Doha Grand Prix after he felt a cramp in a hamstring during warm-ups, raising questions about his fitness and if he is in danger of ending his winning streak. Reached by phone Friday, Wariner's agent, Deon Minor, could not remember the last time Wariner pulled out of a race in which he was scheduled to compete. He also said Wariner did not miss any training due to the cramp.

Still, Wariner faces strong competition. Kerron Clement, the 2007 400-meter hurdles world champion, last August ran a personal best 44.48 in the 400 meters at a meet in Stockholm. He also won gold with the U.S. 4 x 400-meter relay team at the 2007 world championships on a squad that included Darold Williamson, Wariner's training partner who boasts a personal best 44.27 in 2005. Williamson is also entered in the 400 meters in Carson.

Clement's coach, Bobby Kersee, said Friday that he's not looking for his runner to end Wariner's streak. "We're trying to see what his speed to turnover ratio is this week and to see where he is for next month and the Olympic trials," he said by phone. "We're trying to get him ready for the first and second week of June. But I'm not going to underestimate Kerron. He's capable of beating anybody."

Other intriguing stories include Shawn Crawford, the 200-meter champion at the 2004 Athens Olympics, competing in the 100 meters. The 30-year-old owns a personal best 9.88 at the Athens games but has not run below 10.0 seconds in the race since he ran 9.99 at the U.S. outdoor championships in 2005.

Also, Stacy Dragila, the gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, continues her comeback in the pole vault. After setting a world record 4.83 meters in June 2004, Dragila has battled injuries and has not jumped higher than 4.60 since 2005. She cleared a season's best 4.40 at a meet on May 10 and hopes to make her second Olympic team this summer.

Further, Gay and Felix will compete in both the 100 and 200 meters and are the only athletes who plan to double up in Carson. Gay hopes to win both events in Beijing. Felix hopes to compete in both events at the U.S. Olympic trials and would like run on the 4 x 100 meters and 4 x 400 meter relay teams in Beijing.

The Adidas Track Classic is the second of five outdoor meets of the USA Track and Field Visa Championship Series.

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