Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson lead an array on local talent on display at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston, the second of this year’s IAAF World Challenge meetings, on Saturday (7).
After almost ignoring the second string to her bow in 2015, Fraser-Pryce will contest the 200m.
The multiple world and Olympic champion will be up against Bahamian star Shaunae Miller who won this event last year in a personal best and equal meeting record of 22.14, when Fraser-Pryce finished third in 22.37.
Miller, the world 400m silver medallist, has already clocked a world-leading 400m in 49.69 on home soil at the recent Chris Brown Invitational.
World Championships 200m finalist Candyce McGrone and world 400m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson are also expected to add more lustre to what should be an absorbing contest.
However, the 100m sprints should bring the crowd to its feet as well. World 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson, the fifth-fastest 200m sprinter of all time, returns to the stage where she announced herself internationally last year when she won this event in 10.97.
This year Thompson will be aiming to deliver another impressive run. Her main challenge should come from the USA’s Jenna Prandini, who has already run a world-leading 10.95, and her compatriot English Gardner.
On the men’s side, 2007 world champion and US record-holder Tyson Gay faces his compatriots Ryan Bailey and Mike Rodgers, as well as Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole and St Kitts’ evergreen Kim Collins, who turned 40 last month.
Another key feature of the meeting is the second leg of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.
With Jamaica’s recent emergence as a production line of world-class throwers, a good audience is expected for the competition which sees five women with lifetime bests beyond 70 metres go into the ring.
US record-holder Amanda Bingson (national record of 75.73m), British record-holder Sophie Hitchon (73.86m) and the US trio of world leader Gwen Berry, Jeneva Stevens and Amber Campbell will be vying for top honours and valuable points.
Williams looking for a home win
The women’s 100m hurdles looks extremely competitive as well.
Defending Kingston champion Jasmin Stowers was a late withdrawl but there is still an impressive line-up with the field including Jamaica’s world champion Danielle Williams, 2015 world leader Sharika Nelvis, 2013 world champion Brianna Rollins, European champion Tiffany Porter and 2015 Diamond Race winner and 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson.
Jamaica's Asafa Powell will make a rare outing in the 200m., which should also be a crowd pleaser.
USA’s Aleec Harris established a meeting record of 13.16 last year and is back to defend his 110m hurdles title. He should be challenged by last year’s runner-up and compatriot Jeff Porter, Jamaica’s Andrew Riley, France’s world junior champion Wilhem Belocian and USA’s world indoor finalist Jarret Eaton.
The men’s 400m hurdles should also be entertaining with 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson accompanied by Jeffrey Gibson, Michael Tinsley, Jaheel Hyde and Michael Stigler.
The women’s 400m sees Britain’s two-time world champion Christine Ohuruogu up against the USA’s 2015 Diamond Race winner Francena McCorory.
Christine Day, Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Novelene Williams-Mills, three members of Jamaica’s winning 4x400m quartet from Beijing, will also be on the start line.
Noel Francis for the IAAF