KINGSTON, Jamaica, May CMC – Olympic double sprint champion Elaine Thompson will be the headline act for the Jamaica International Invitational tomorrow when she lines up for the women’s 200 metres, the final event on the schedule.
Thompson, winner of gold medals in the 100 and 200 at last year’s Olympics in Rio, has continued to stamp her authority on the sport this year.
She won the 200 in a time of 22.19 seconds at the IAAF Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, and followed up with a 100 victory in 10.78 at the DL meet in Shanghai, China.
Shericka Jackson, the 400m World and Olympic bronze medallist, has lowered her personal bests in the short sprints and could push her MVP clubmate, along with American challengers Shalonda Solomon and Candyce McGrone, as well as Bahamian Tynia Gaither.
A ding-dong battle is expected when Olympic silver medallist Andre De Grasse of Canada faces La Shawn Merritt of the United States in the men’s 200.
De Grasse finished behind Usain Bolt last year in Rio and has had a cold start to the season, but he can expect to be pushed by Merritt, as well as local challengers Warren Weir, Nickel Ashmeade and reigning Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Dwyer.
Veteran sprinters Allyson Felix of the United States and Asafa Powell of Jamaica are the notable names carded for the women’s and men’s 100 dash.
Felix’s biggest challengers look to be Rio 100 finalists Michelle-Lee Ahye and Christania Williams, as well as IAAF World Indoor tour 60 champion Gayon Evans.
Resurgent local hero Yohan Blake, American Mike Rodgers, fresh from his win in Guadeloupe last weekend, and compatriot Ronnie Baker, the only man in the field under 10 seconds this season, look to be potential spoilers to Powell.
The women’s 400 features a clash between Novelene Williams-Mills, Stephenie-Ann McPherson, Christine Day and Anneisha McLaughlin-Whilby of Jamaica and Americans Natasha Hastings, Ashley Spencer, Courtney Okolo and Phyllis Francis.
Jamaica 400 champion Javon Francis will be under pressure to defend home turf in the men’s race with Tony McQuay of the United States looking to show his mettle.
Other big names looking to leave their mark on the meet include reigning women’s world 100 hurdles champions Danielle Williams and her sister Shermaine of the United States, compatriot Bershawn Jackson in the men’s 400 hurdles, and two-time world and Rio Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia making her season debut.