Star trio to make dash for 100m gold in Shanghai

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A star-studded line-up that includes Jamaica's Asafa Powell and Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay will vie for the 100-meter title in Shanghai at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League, as organizers yesterday unveiled the first batch of 28 athletes who have confirmed their participation in the track and field tournament in May.

As the second leg of the 2016 Diamond League series, the Shanghai event will be held at Shanghai Stadium on May 14, featuring a total of 18 disciplines — two more than its regular schedule.

The two new disciplines are the men's 4x100 relay and the men's high jump, in which Chinese athletes made breakthroughs at the 2015 world championships in Beijing. The Chinese men's team staged an impressive performance at the National Stadium en route to a silver medal in the 4x100 relay, which was won by Jamaica. And, high jumper Zhang Guowei also took home a silver medal after clinching a shared second place.

"The two disciplines are specially arranged for Shanghai," Fu Weibo, deputy director of Chinese Sports Bureau's track and field competition division, revealed. "2016 is an Olympic year, and we hope the Shanghai event will offer our athletes a stepping stone in their preparation for the Olympic Games."

The organizer, Shanghai Juss Event, announced the first batch of 28 star athletes who will show up in May. The men's 100 meters will be a contest among three former winners — Powell, Gatlin and Gay. They won the Shanghai title in 2011, 2015 and 2009, respectively. Gay is the meet record holder.

The men's 110 hurdles — long the center of attraction before the retirement of local hurdling star Liu Xiang — will feature two-time Shanghai winner David Oliver (2010, 2015) and Aries Merritt, the world record holder who is recovering from a kidney disease. The Americans will compete against 2016 world indoor championship 60 hurdles winner Omar McLeod and home favorite Xie Wenjun.

"My goal in Shanghai is to beat my best time of 13.23 seconds," Xie, 25, said. "I have competed with these opponents many times, and I'm looking forward to a personal breakthrough before this year's Olympics."

Xie, under the tutelage of Liu's former coach Sun Haiping, shoulders his countrymen's hopes after the retirement of Liu and Shi Dongpeng. "The age 25 for an athlete means maturity," Xie added. "I still don't run fast enough, but I'm working on it. I'll practice and tweak some details, including my start skills."

The men's javelin will feature three former winners — Tero Pitkamaki, Ihab Abdelrahman and Vitezslav Vesely. Nicholas Bett and Jeffrey Gibson, gold and bronze medalists at the 2015 worlds, respectively, will star in the men's 400 hurdles.

In the women's 200, Jamaican duo Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown will lead the chase while the 3,000 steeplechase will feature the top-two at the 2015 worlds, Hyvin Jepkemoi and Habiba Ghribi.

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