Dayron Robles of Cuba dips to beat Terrence Trammell in the men's 60m Hurdles Final (Getty Images) © Copyright
The Cuban hurdler struggled with injury throughout 2010, but had early fitness and form to clock 7.34 seconds over 60m to take gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Doha last March – just 0.04 seconds behind Colin Jackson’s long standing indoor World record.
His inclusion at the NIA on 19 February completes a mouth-watering line-up for the Aviva Grand Prix which will see him go head-to-head with last year’s fastest outdoor hurdler, USA star David Oliver, and newly-crowned European and Commonwealth champion Brit, Andy Turner.
And the 24-year-old insists there will be little difference in strength of competition between Birmingham and Daegu and has cited Turner and Oliver as his main competition as he goes in search of that elusive World title.
“2010 was a difficult year for me," Robles said. "I was so pleased with my performance in Doha but then I suffered from injury during the outdoor season and needed to pull out of some events which was not great to go through. The indoor season is an exciting prospect for me, especially with the field that is lining up at Birmingham, it will be one of my first races in 2011 so I’m looking forward to it."
“I’ve competed at the Aviva Grand Prix in the past, last year was great for me when I took a win against some really strong competition. I know that this year I’m looking forward to facing David Oliver, who is a huge force on the hurdles and of course I want to go out there and get the best possible result that I can."
“The World Championships and the Pan Am Games are targets for me this year," Robles continued, "so going up against the likes of Oliver and Turner is exactly the preparation I need to make sure that I am in with a good chance of medalling in Daegu - I will always go into these races with the intention to get the best result possible.”
The Aviva Grand Prix – the first of three Aviva Series events in to Birmingham in 2011 – will be the first time Robles, Oliver and Turner have competed against one another over 60m since the Stockholm GE Galan back in February 2007. Robles and Oliver will square off for the first time this season in Stuttgart on Saturday (5).
But Oliver is adamant that past records will count for nothing in Birmingham and has promised the fans at the NIA an encounter never to forget.
“Dayron is one of the best hurdlers ever, period," Oliver said. "It’s great that he’s back to full health because if you want to be the best you have to beat the best."
“The Birmingham fans are going to be in for a real treat because our race is going to be hot, it will definitely be one of the best in the event. Having a world-class field means the competition is tight and that drives us all to perform better."
“I met some young fans in Solihull this week. It’s important that those kids who come to watch us at the NIA might be inspired by guys like myself and Dayron, and want to go down that path rather than say football. It’s the same in the UK as it is in the States; track and field has a lot of sports to compete with which is why it’s great to have events like the Grand Prix, where we hopefully inspire the next generation.”
Organisers for the IAAF