50m test for Jamaica stars
A trio of elite Jamaican sprinters will get an early-season test over virgin distance when they climax tomorrow’s US Open Track & Field meet at Madison Square Garden.
Multiple Olympic and World champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, former 100 metres world record holder Asafa Powell, and Nesta Carter, the fourth-fastest man ever over 100 metres, will headline the showcase 50 metres event, which all confessed to have never raced before and have little knowledge about, although it is being billed as the highlight of the inaugural meet.
“The 50 metres is new to me,” Campbell-Brown said at yesterday’s press conference ahead of the first IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting for 2012. “I’ve never run the 50m before. I can’t remember (running) the 55m.”
Campbell-Brown, who won the Visa 60 metres at the same venue last year, will be up against a field of five other runners, including reigning United States indoor champion Alexandria Anderson and her highly rated American compatriot Bianca Knight, in the second-to-last event of the meet, the ‘Harris Women’s 50m dash’, set to start at 9:45 p.m. Jamaica time.
Powell and Carter, who like Campbell-Brown won the 60 metres at Millrose Games 2011, will bring the curtain down in the ‘Chase Men’s 50m dash’, scheduled for 10 minutes later. They will face fellow Jamaican Kimmari Roach, Antigua and Barbuda’s Daniel Bailey, and Americans Trell Kimmons, a runner-up in 100m at the 2010 USA Outdoor, and Justin Gatlin, also a former 100m world record holder.
The teammates at Jamaica-based Maximum Velocity and Power (MVP) club joked that they had no clue what the world record was for the event or who held it. The best mark for men of 5.56 seconds was set in February 1996 by Jamaica-born Donovan Bailey, a former 100m Olympic champion for Canada. The fastest woman over 50m is Russia’s Irina Privalova, who clocked 5.96 in 1995.
Both men, along with Campbell-Brown, acknowledged the competition will serve as valuable early-season preparation. But it will be strictly for the swift, with virtually no margin for error.
“Just get out of the starting block first,” explained Powell when asked his strategy for the race.
“You have to really be out there (of the blocks) to have a chance,” said Carter, one of the four fastest ever over 100m, who replaced Trinidadian Richard Thompson, a late withdrawal from the event.
While the 50m will offer a glimpse of the intensifying sprint rivalry between Jamaica and the US, Campbell-Brown also welcomed the chance to return to New York and the opportunity to kick-start her competitive season in a year she hopes to win the Olympic 100m. That would complete an impressive collection of gold medals in the individual sprints at global meets that includes victories in the 100 and 200m at the World Championships in Athletics and consecutive wins in the Olympic 200m. She will attempt the double – 100 and 200m – at the London Olympics, but has yet to decide if she will defend her 60m title at this year’s World IndoorChampionships. Tomorrow will provide a gauge of her current form.
“It’s always a pleasure (to come to New York),” Campbell-Brown said. ” … I always have great competition here.”
Powell and Carter said they have done no sprinting so far this year, with most of their training limited to strengthening and endurance work. But Powell acknowledged that competing indoors, which he has not done “since 2004,” is an attempt to shake up his usual preparation routine in a career which has produced world records, but no individual gold medal at global meets such as the Olympics or World Championships.
“It’s something different,” he said. “You have to make changes.”
Other Jamaicans are expected to face the starter at the US Open, which has taken the place of the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. Dwight Thomas will compete against a strong field of American men in the 50m hurdles, which includes Aries Merritt, David Oliver, Terrence Trammell, Jeff Porter and Omo Osaghae. Davita Prendergast will race in the women’s 500 yards against Americans Monica Hargrove, Jasmine Chaney and Keshia Baker.