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Rising stars predicting record breaking year next season

10 May 2006

Some of the world's top sprinters and hurdlers are predicting that new world records will be set at Osaka's Nagai Stadium when it hosts the 2007 World Championships.

Justin Gatlin of the United States, who ran 9.95 seconds on Saturday in his first 100 metres of the season to win the blue riband event of the IAAF Japan Grand Prix, said he believed that fast times were inevitable.

"In 2007, I think you will see the track will produce many very fast times, some of the fastest times in the world," said Gatlin, the Athens Olympics 100m champion.

Gatlin has declared his goal this year is to break the 9.75 second barrier and smash the world record of 9.77 held by Asafa Powell. The Jamaican shares the same time of 9.95sec with Gatlin.

American Bershawn Jackson, the world champion from Helsinki, Finland, last summer, who won his first 400m hurdles race of the year in 47.60sec, was equally effusive about the Nagai track.

"The track was very, very fast. I didn't expect to run that fast," the American said.

"This is my fastest season opener. I think the track played a big difference in our race," said Jackson.

Liu Xiang of China, who recovered from an ankle injury last month to cruised to 13.22sec to win the 110m hurdles title in Osaka on Saturday in 13.22sec, said he too will be concentrating on 2007 meeting, especially with it being on his home soil.

"This was my first race this year, and I had no idea the time was going to be as good as that," said Liu, who caused a sensation in Athens in 2004 by equalling the world record of 12.91 seconds to win gold.

"I will give my all at the Osaka Championships next year. It's hard to predict the finishing time, but I think I can go for around 13 seconds," Liu said.

American new half-lap sprint sensation Allyson Felix captured the women's 100m title on Saturday in 11.11sec in discomfort situations after her long flight to Japan.

The world champion, who ended Jamaican and Olympic champion Veronica Campbell's long winning record too predicted a number of record-breaking performances here in 2007.

"I am looking forward to the next year's World Championships," Felix said. "I know that there are going to be a lot of fast times produced."

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