International stars will give fans rare treat

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International stars will give fans rare treat


From left: Liu Xiang, Yelena Isinbayeva and Usain Bolt. [AFP/YONHAP], [JoongAng Ilbo], [AP/YONHAP]

International athletes looking to test their speed, strength and endurance against the best in the world will crowd the venues in Daegu from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4, hoping to see where they stand before the 2012 London Olympics.

The event will also be a good opportunity for fans to see some of the biggest names in track and field compete here in Korea.

In the men’s 100-meter race, 25-year-old Jamaican Usain Bolt will try to break his own world record of 9.58 seconds. The reigning world and Olympic champion will also compete in the 200 meters, another event he holds the world record (19.19 seconds) in. The Jamaican had suffered from Achilles tendon and waist injuries last year, but has slowly been getting back in shape for the Worlds.

But those expecting to see Bolt’s main threat compete in Daegu will be disappointed. Tyson Gay of the United States will not run the 100-meter sprint because the 2007 champion is recovering from hip injury. With Gay out, Bolt’s compatriot, Asafa Powell, will be the one to try to knock Bolt off his perch.

Powell has finished the 100-meter race in less than 10 seconds on 70 occasions over his career, which is more than any other sprinter in the world. The 29-year-old Jamaican also holds the best time of the season at 9.78 seconds.

In the women’s 100-meter sprint, two Jamaicans - Shelley Ann-Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown - and American Carmelita Jeter are expected to battle for first.

Ann-Fraser-Pryce, 25, is the reigning world and Olympic champion, but she was involved in a doping scandal last year and was suspended for six months, which might have an influence on her condition leading up to the event.

Her biggest rival, Jeter, has been on a roll, clocking this season’s best time of 10.70 seconds. And if history is any indication of future performance, Jeter might be glad she will be in Daegu. The American has won the 100 meters at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championship Meeting three consecutive times since 2009.

The men’s 110-meter hurdles is also expected to be a three-horse race as the 2007 world and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang of China faces world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba and David Oliver of the U.S.

In the men’s 400 meters, South African double amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius will have strong company with two-time world champion Jeremy Wariner of the U.S. Pistorius passed with an A-Standard time last week and will be the first amputee sprinter to run in the Worlds.

American Allyson Felix will go for her fourth consecutive title in the women’s 200-meter race, while Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia is expected to make another successful run in the men’s 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter races.

In the field category, female pole-vault star Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia will look to claim her third victory in the Worlds. The 29-year-old had been in a slump since the 2009 Worlds in Berlin, but won an athletic event in Belgium on July 17. She is the only female pole vaulter in history to record five meters - her record is 5.06 meters.

Blanka Vlasic of Croatia will also try to set a new world record in the women’s high jump. The two-time world champion’s personal best is just one centimeter short of the world record of 2.09 meters. On the men’s side, Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen will look to defend his title in the javelin throw. The 29-year-old is a two-time Olympic champion and the only javelin thrower in history to win at the Olympics, Worlds and European Championships.
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