Javier Culson of Puerto Rico in action in the 400m Hurdles semi-finals (Getty Images) © Copyright
As in recent seasons, Culson will run his first 400m Hurdles race of the year in front of the home crowd in Ponce, on the same track where he ran his personal best (47.72) back in 2010.
The tall 26-year-old started his 2012 campaign on 18 February in San Germán, where he ran 800m in 1:50.26, followed by a 400m personal best (45.99) on 31 March.
On 12 May, he will face familiar rivals, including Jamaica’s 2004 Olympic runner-up Danny McFarlane, Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon, fourth at the 2009 Worlds in Berlin, and several US specialists led by Johnny Dutch, the fastest in the field with a 47.63 PB.
Organizers await the confirmation of 2011 Pan American Games champion Omar Cisneros.
Other top name confirmed is Costa Rica’s newly crowned world indoor 400m champion Nery Brenes.
The women’s 100m and 400m feature six global medallists each. The field in the shorter distance is led by Ivory Coast’s World indoor runner-up Muriel Ahoure. She is joined by relay World champions Bianca Knight, Shalonda Solomon, Alex Anderson of the US, Bahamas’ Chandra Sturrup and Tahesia Harrigan of the British Virgin Islands.
The top names for the one-lap race are USA’s Francena McCorory, Monica Hargrove, Natasha Hasting, Jessica Beardy and Dee Dee Trotter, as well as Jamaica’s Patricia Hall.
Latin American women are led by Colombia's 2011 World Triple Jump bronze medallist Caterine Ibarguen, who will start her 2012 season here competing in the Long Jump.
The men's 100m includes five men who have dipped under 10 seconds, including American Trell Kimmons, the fastest indoors in 2012. He will be joined by the 2010 world indoor champion Briton Dwain Chambers and Jamaican Nick Ashmeade.
There is high expectation around Cuba’s debut at the Grand Prix. The neighbouring country has registered its best athletes such as 2008 Olympic champion and 110m hurdles World record holder Dayron Robles.
Other top figures like Yargelis Savigne (Long Jump), Guillermo Martínez (Javelin), Lázaro Borges (Pole Vault) and William Collazo (400m) could bring the total of global medallists to 30.
The Ponce Grand Prix has joined Kingston and Rio de Janeiro as the only three Latin American stops on the World Challenge Tour. Registration includes over 100 athletes from 20 nations.
Men and women will run 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m and will also battle in the Javelin. Men will also compete in both the 110m and 400m Hurdles and Triple Jump. Women will also contest the 1500m, 100m Hurdes and Long Jump. The annual athletics rendez-vous will kick off with relay races involving local schools.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF