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Powell, Gay head for July showdown
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The race is on to stage the first pre-Olympics showdown between Jamaican 100m world record holder Asafa Powell and American world champion Tyson Gay.

London appears to be the front-runner for a late July sprint clash with three other European cities in the mix.

"They are definitely going to race before the Olympics, maybe even twice," Paul Doyle, Powell's agent, told Reuters. "We are just trying to figure out when and where."

Mark Wetmore, Gay's agent, confirmed talks were under way but said nothing was finalized.

"Tyson has been saying since November that he wants to run against Asafa before the Olympics," Wetmore told Reuters.

Any race would be at a regular meeting.

"We are considering mostly European races....both Golden Leagues and Super Grands Prix," Doyle said.

"One, they have got the money to make this happen. Two, that's where the most media coverage is going to be."

With Gay not planning to run in Europe until after the US Olympic Trials end on July 6, a mid-to late-July race would work best.

That would give both sprinters time to recover from their Olympic trials and offer the sport a maximum boost before the Beijing Games.

It also would narrow possible locations to the July 18 Paris Golden League meeting and the Super Grand Prix competitions of Stockholm (July 22), London (July 25) and Monaco (July 29).

Relays first

Relays will dominate the early schedules for both Powell and Gay.

Powell, who has clocked 10.04 seconds for 100m and 47.87 seconds in his annual 400m, will be in a relay at the Kingston University where he trains on Saturday, Doyle said.

"The problem with the knee is a thing of the past and he is back to full training," Doyle said.

Gay's first meeting will likely be the Texas Relays in Austin, Texas, in early April.

Both sprinters plan to run at the Mount San Antonio College Relays in California and the Penn Relays in Philadelphia in April.

Powell will relaunch his 100m season at Doha on May 9.

Gay's first open race likely will be over 200m at the May 3 Jamaican International Invitational in Kingston. Sprint races will follow at the May 18 Adidas Track Classic near Los Angeles and the May 31 Reebok Grand Prix in New York.

On the rebound

Indoor hurdles favorite Dayron Robles has returned to training in Cuba after a disappointing World Championships. Robles was eliminated in the preliminaries when he stopped, thinking there was a false start.

"Robles is more lively, with new energy in training," his coach, Santiago Antunez, told Reuters. "He is looking at a medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing."

Swedish women's world 60m hurdles record holder Susanna Kallur expects to be back to full fitness in two weeks.

Kallur, the World Indoor favorite, withdrew after injuring a hamstring during warm-ups for the semifinals.

"I haven't tried to run full out," Kallur told the Swedish daily Expressen, "but I did some jogging and it felt like it (the injury) was holding up."

Marathon favorite?

With Ethiopian world record holder Haile Gebreselassie opting for the 10,000m over the Olympic marathon, who becomes the marathon favorite? Track & Field News expert Sean Hartnett likes world silver medalist Mubarak Hassan Shami of Qatar.

"Olympic marathons favor strong athletes who can cope with mid-summer heat and tactical races, and Shami is a proven winner in warm-weather competitions," Hartnett said of the former Kenyan who was second to Kenyan Luke Kibet in steamy Osaka last year. "Osaka was Shami's only loss in six marathons, but he managed a silver medal despite running with a hamstring injury. Beijing will be a very tough marathon and Shami is one tough runner."

Hartnett's top five also includes former two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco, Kenyans Martin Lel and Samuel Wanjiru and Swiss world bronze medalist Viktor Roethlin.

(Agencies via China Daily March 19, 2008)

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