Thursday, July 9, 2009

Next Stop - Rome

With the season hitting high gear on the way to the World Championships next month, Rome sits in the position of coming off an exciting Lausanne meet. With the weather playing a factor for many in Switzerland, I had to take a look at the weather report for Rome tomorrow.

The forecast: Partly cloudy skies. High 83F, humidity 40%. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. 5% chance of precipitation.

Translation - it should be a good day for competition.

Start lists are up and it looks like there will be lots of stars stopping in Rome. We got to see Usain Bolt do his thing in Lausanne on Tuesday, tomorrow we get to see Tyson Gay as they head for what appears to be a Clash of the Titans battle in Berlin. Gay will be running the 100 meters for the second time this season where he'll be facing Olympic finalists Asafa Powell (JAM), Churandy Martina (AHO), Michael Frater (JAM), and Richard Thomas (TRI). Powell showed a glimpse of his previous form in Lausanne with a convincing win, he will be severely tested by Gay who in only two races this season has run 19.58 and 9.75w.

While lacking in star quality, the 400 will have Ireland's David Gillick who just ran himself into possible medal contention in Berlin with a 44.77 in Madrid this past weekend. It was a huge PR for Gillick and tomorrow we'll see if that was his step up to the next level.

In the 1500 we get another look at Augustine Choge (KEN) who is starting to look like "The Man" this year in the metric mile. While defending World 5000 champion Bernard Lagat (US) gets to test himself against World Record holder Kenenisa Bekele, my favorite right now for the title in Berlin.

With the weather being a bit more cooperative, we could get a huge long jump showdown with Fabrice Lapierre (AUS) the Madrid winner, Godfrey Mokoena (RSA) recent setter of the African Record, world leader Dwight Phillips (US), and defending World champion Irving Saladino (PAN) all in attendance.

On the women's side we get a huge match up in the 100 meters with recently rejuvenated Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser (JAM) going up against the season's two hottest sprinters in the spring Kerron Stewart (JAM) and Carmelita Jeter (US). Jeter was undefeated this year until her loss to Fraser in Lausanne and will be looking to reverse things in Rome.

We'll also get a rare showdown in the 400 between world leader Sanya Richards (US) and defending World 200 champion Allyson Felix (US). Richards has been hot since US Nationals taking the world lead down to 49.23. Felix doesn't contest this event often, but is tough when she does and has been known to beat Richards.

The women's 100 hurdles will give Sally McClellan (AUS) the surprise winner in Lausanne a chance to show that she is indeed a contender for the podium in Berlin, as she gets another shot at Dawn Harper (US), Brigitte Foster Hylton (JAM) and Priscilla Lopes Schliep (CAN).

Rome should turn the heat up yet another notch as we head towards the final 30 days before the World Championships. For full meet line up click here.

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