Zharnel Hughes wins the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, has confirmed that he will compete in the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London on the night of Friday 22 July.
The London Anniversary Games meeting organisers announced on Tuesday (14) that the 100m and 200m world record-holder will face Great Britain’s European 200m champion Adam Gemili, Zharnel Hughes and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
The trio are the second, third and fourth fastest British 200m runners ever and all of them will be aiming to become the first British athlete to beat Bolt in a race which potentially could be the fastest 200m race ever held in Britain.
In Beijing last year, the Jamaican successfully defended his world titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, the same disciplines in which he owns two Olympic gold medals.
This will be Bolt’s eighth appearance at the London leg of the prestigious IAAF Diamond League, after first appearing in 2005 aged 18.
He has twice competed in the 100m under the floodlights on the Friday night of the London Anniversary Games, winning in both 2013 and 2015 with world-class times of 9.85 and 9.87.
Bolt, now 29, also holds the 200m meeting record after running 19.76 at Crystal Palace in 2008.
“The London Anniversary Games will be one of my last races before Rio and running in the 200m will hopefully set me up for a successful Olympic Games,” said Bolt.
“Great Britain has some very good young sprinters and I’m looking forward to running against them and returning to the Olympic Stadium," he added. "I always get great support in the UK and I expect the stadium to be packed for a great Friday night of athletics."
Gemili, who has a best 200m time of 19.98, had an injury-marred 2015 but last Saturday ran his first 200m since winning the 2014 European title.
He is now looking forward to facing Bolt in front of a home crowd.
“The London Anniversary Games is always an amazing event," he said. "I can’t wait to run in the Olympic Stadium again as the atmosphere in front of a home crowd is always special. The British fans are the best in the world and with this being the last event before the Olympics, I’m sure they will get behind us like always and inspire us to produce some great performances.”
The prodigious Hughes, who doesn’t turn 21 until 13 July and who was fifth in the 200m in Beijing last summer, is also looking forward to facing Bolt again.
“I am really looking forward to the Friday night and getting the chance to take on Bolt in London," said Hughes. "It will be a great race and a chance for us to show our strengths ahead of Rio."
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL