Monday, July 6, 2009

Big Week Ahead - First Up, Lausanne

USA Track and Field National Championships Day 4

With the World Championships just a little over a month away, the competitions are beginning to heat up. Many of the sports top athletes have competed sparingly up to this point, but this week we start to get some races and match ups that will bring some focus on the Berlin medal hunt.

Lausanne will get that going in a big way tomorrow, as several high profile athletes take to the track AND the field. Some events to keep your eyes on!

Men's 100 - US champion Michael Rodgers will have his third meeting of the year with Jamaican champs runner up Asafa Powell. A critical meeting for both as Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt appear headed for a showdown over the gold medal, this could be a bronze medal preview. Rodgers has beaten Powell in both previous meetings, and Powell barely eaked out a win in Oslo over Daniel Bailey (ANT) and Michael Frater (JAM) - Frater will be in Lausanne.

Men's 200 - This could be the highlight event of the meet - taking the spotlight from the 100. The key match up will be US champion and '04 Olympic champion Shawn Crawford v Jamaican champion and '08 Olympic champion Usain Bolt. Crawford ran a swift, but wind aided 19.73 in winning the US title. Bolt a wind hampered 20.25 in his first 200 of the season - though he blazed a 9.86 in the 100. To spice things up the event will have Olympic 400 champion Lashawn Merritt who is third on the yearly 200 list at 20.07. Also in the race will be Churandy Martina (AHO) dq'd for a lane violation in Beijing after finishing second. Crawford will be looking to show he can compete with Bolt. Bolt will want to get close to Tyson Gay's world leading 19.58. This should be a scintillating race. Lausanne has some of the gentlest turns in the world, making sub 20's common there in the last few years. Both Bolt and Crawford tend to run blistering bends - so keep your eye on the turn!

Men's 110 Hurdles - Olympic champion Dayron Robles v US champion David Payne. Robles is the clear favorite for gold in Berlin, but David Payne (Beijing bronze medalist) finds a way to run his best against the best. The field is full of quality hurdlers and that will keep everyone on their toes. But the real test for everyone will be to keep pace with Robles who, based on his progression in his past few races, could be ready to go under 13 seconds here.

Men's 400 hurdles - Defending World champion Kerron Clement v Jamaican champion Isa Phillips. Phillips has been one of the best in the world to date, running consistently hot times. Clement has run well, and worked on his speed by running the open 400 at the US championships where he made the world team in that event. The race should come down to Phillips superior hurdling v Clements speed and finishing strength.

Men's Long Jump - Another hot event. World leader Dwight Phillips (US) has finally found consistence at 28 feet. Godfrey Mokoena comes off his African Record 27' 10.75" in Madrid. In the mix will be Fabrice Lapierre, winner in Madrid with a wind aided 28' 1.5". If Mokoena and Lapierre can find the same form as Madrid, this could end up being a very interesting and special competition.

Women's 100 - We get our second meeting this season between Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser and this year's undefeated US champion Carmelita Jeter. Jeter has beaten everyone in site including Fraser, while Fraser has struggled to find last year's form. Fraser did emerge to take the yearly lead at Jamaica nationals with her 10.88. Lausanne will be a test of Fraser's start against Jeter's wicked mid race surge and finish.

Women's 1500 - This race could be very interesting as world leader Gelete Burka takes on a field containing Christin Wurth Thomas - #5 on the season. The last time they raced at the Prefontaine Classic Burka ran her second sub 4 of the season while Wurth Thomas ran her seasonal best. Since then Christin made the US team while displaying very fast early race tactics. Will be interesting to see if she attempts to go out hard against Burka - and whether she can hold her off.

Women's 100 Hurdles - Possibly the most loaded event of the day. Lead by Olympic champion Dawn Harper (US) and defending World champion Michelle Perry every woman in the A race will have a personal best of 12.60 or better. Harper is running well, having won the US championships, but Virginia Powell finally put it together in that race after a couple of down seasons due to injury. The wild card in this race could end up being LoLo Jones (US) herself done in by injury earlier in the season, and just finding her way back to the track. Jones failed to make the US squad for Berlin and will be looking to show her dominance over the competition on the Circuit. This race should be blazing fast - and close.

Lausanne is has top level talent in every event. Full line ups for the meet can be found here. We could have several new world leading marks heading into Rome later this week. The meet can be seen online here.

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