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Olympians get last licks at Monaco Super GP

28 July 2008

By Dave Ungrady

With world champion Tyson Gay recovering from a hamstring injury and world record holder Usain Bolt done with competition until the Beijing Olympics, Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell headlines the field in the 100 meters at the Herculis Super Grand Prix in Monaco on July 29, the last meet prior to the Beijing Olympics.

Powell, the former world record holder, has won three of four races since returning to competition at the Jamaican National Championships after three months of not racing due to a chest injury. In Super Grand Prix meets last week Powell ran to victory in 100 meters in a season's best 9.88 at Stockholm and 9.94 in London.

"I was very confident and very comfortable," Powell said after the London win on www.iaaf.org. "It wasn't the best of conditions, but we made the most of it. The race did not go quite as expected but felt easy. A bit more work and everything should be fine for Beijing."

Other runners scheduled in the men's 100 meters in Monaco include Francis Obikwelu of Portugal, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, and Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas, who finished second at the 2007 world championships.

About a dozen U.S. athletes heading to Beijing are scheduled to take part in the meet, a vastly reduced number compared to the two Super Grand Prix meets last week. David Oliver, who won Friday in London and has the second fastest time in the world this year, leads a field in the 110-meter hurdles that also includes Americans Anwar Moore and Antwon Hicks.

"I love to race, and this year my coach has reined me in a bit," Oliver, who will compete in his third race in eight days, wrote in an email Sunday. "So every chance I get to run, I can't wait."

Torri Edwards is in the women's 100 meters against Jamaican Olympic qualifiers Kerron Stewart, Sharone Simpson and Shelly Ann Fraser. All four are among the top five in the world this year.

Christin Wurth Thomas, who ran a personal best 2:01.34 in the 800 meters Friday in London, is listed in the 1,500 meters. Tiffany Ross Williams and Sheena Tosta, who finished first and third at the U.S. trials in the 400-meters, should finish among the top three in the event in Monaco. Ian Dobson and Jen Rhines, who each qualified for Beijing in their respective 5,000 meters, are listed in the 3,000 meters.

Off the track, Beijing qualifiers Brittney Reese, Grace Upshaw and Funmi Jimoh are in the long jump, while Aarik Wilson and Kanta Bell are set in the triple jump. Jesse Williams, the U.S. Olympic trials winner, will take part in the high jump and world indoor champion and Beijing bound Christian Cantwell will compete in the shot put.

Also scheduled to compete in Monaco are world record holder and Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia in the pole vault; 2004 Olympics gold medalist Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia in the 800 meters; Daniel Kipchirchir Komen of Kenya, the silver medalist at the 2008 indoor world championships, in the 1,500 meters; and world champion Donald Thomas of the Bahamas in the high jump.

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