American sprinter Maurice Greene, who followed up his World Championships 100m victory last year in Athens with a sensational indoor season, will be one of the attractions of the IAAF Grand Prix in Eugene (USA) on Sunday 31 May.
Greene, who set a 60m world record of 6.39 this winter, will run both 100m and 200m. He has already run the fastest time in the world this year of 20.03 in the latter event but faces tremendous opposition in Michael Johnson.
"Superman" Johnson had a difficult 1997 season, even though he still managed to capture the world title over 400m, and so his appearance in Eugene is eagerly awaited by track fans. Can Johnson regain the form that saw him win Olympic gold at 200m in Atlanta with the astonishing time of 19.32? Earlier this month he managed "only" 20.31 but that is modest only by his own superlative standards.
But the Johnson-Greene duel will not be the only highlight of Eugene. Another sprint duel, over 100m, will see Ato Boldon (TRI), 200m World Champion and list leader over 100m with 9.86, try to end Greene’s invincibility over the classic sprint distance. Both train at UCLA in Los Angeles under the watchful eye of famous coach John Smith.
The 400m race will also be very exciting. Twin brothers Alvin and Calvin Harrison will face Tyree Washington (USA) - an individual bronze medallist in Athens - and the tall Jamaican Greg Haughton (JAM) - the World Championships bronze medallist in 1995.
Kenyan star Daniel Komen and Olympic 5000m champion Venuste Niyongabo (BUR) may attack the Mile world record of Noureddine Morceli - 3:44.39 - which has stood since 1993. This will depend on the improvement of anaerobic strength that both Komen - World Champion and world record Holder at 5000m - and Niyongabo - Olympic Champion of 5000m - have acquired in gruelling winter and spring training. Last year Komen covered the distance in 3:46.38 with Niyongabo also impressing with 3:46.70.
The 110m hurdles boasts the intriguing presence of the decathlete legend Dan O’Brien, who faces World and Olympic Champion Allen Johnson (who will also compete in the 200m, an event he plans to contest in the US National Champs).
In the women’s events, two phenomenal athletes will start. The first is only 22 years-old, the second close to 40. Marion Jones, the shooting star of American athletics, will participate in the 100m, and then in the long jump while Mary Slaney - who is still a middle distance star after 27 years of competition - has asked the organisers to schedule a 5000m race in order to try and improve the US Record (14:56.04 by Amy Rudolph in 1996).