After much speculation it has been confirmed that Australia’s celebrated Olympic icon Cathy Freeman will race against the current IAAF World number one ranked 400m runner Ana Guevara, on the latter’s home turf in Mexico City’s 1968 Olympic stadium, over a distance of 300 metres at the Banamex GP on 3 May 2003.
Guevara, who was unbeaten in 2003, is presently the biggest name in Mexican sport. The 26-year-old was one of four athletes to take a share of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot last summer, and also took wins at 400m at the IAAF Grand Prix Final and World Cup, leading the world list with an area record of 49.16 which was run in Zurich.
While the Mexican is currently in charge of the one lap distance, Freeman, 30, who is a former double World 400m champion is presently trying to recapture the sort of form which took her to an historic 49.11 Olympic 400m win in Sydney on 25 September 2000. Her season’s best so far is 51.66, when winning the Australian title in Brisbane on 4 April.
While the local population will no doubt be clamouring to watch their heroine battle against the Olympic champion, the Banamex organisers have also confirmed an array of other stars, making this inaugural event far from just a two woman show.
Five current World track champions will also compete. Felix Sanchez, the World 400m Hurdles champion, who with Guevara became the first Latin-American recipients of the IAAF Golden League Jackpot, will run the flat 400 metres, against the World 400m champion Avard Moncur of the Bahamas.
The World High Jump champion Hestrie Cloete of South Africa will be the undoubted star of the women’s field events.
Yet the best competition in the infield looks to be the men’s Long Jump, where memories of Bob Beamon’s epic 8.90m World record leap which won the 1968 Olympic title, and remained unsurpassed until 1991, are bound to haunt the runway.
In this year’s competition, Cuba’s quadruple World champion Ivan Pedroso who is also the holder of the Olympic Long Jump title, will take on the two of the American trio who are presently dominating the event internationally. Americans Savanté Stringfellow and Miquel Pate are respectively the first and third ranked athletes in the current IAAF World Rankings.
Another World and Olympic champion, who will be on show is Kenyan steeplechaser Reuben Kosgei.
Three more Sydney Olympic champions will also join this world class line up, the Kenyan Noah Ngeny (1500m), Anier Garcia of Cuba (110m Hurdles) and Algeria’s Nouria Benida Merah (women’s 1500m).
In terms of speed, you need look no further than to the appearance of two of the world’s finest, World 100m record holder Tim Montgomery, the overall IAAF Grand Prix winner last season, and Justin Gatlin the newly crowned World Indoor 60m champion.
Thirteen events are scheduled for the meeting – men: 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 3000m, 110m Hurdles and Long Jump; women: 100m, 200m, 300m, 1500m, High Jump and Long Jump.
The 65,000 capacity Olympic stadium will be slightly reconfigured for the Banamex Grand Prix to a maximum of 53,000 seats.