For the first time in the history of the IAAF Grand Prix, South America will host 2 meets in the same year.
This Sunday, 16 May, Rio de Janeiro will return to the athletics map, by holding an IAAF GPII event, in someways a preview of the 20th edition of the “Grande Prêmio Brasil-Caixa de Atletismo”, that will take part a week later in Belém.
The action will begin at 9:00 AM local time, at the “Estádio Miécimo da Silva”.
In the 20 years of Brazilian GP’s, Rio has been the venue from 1996 to 2001, and after the success of Belém in the past 2 years, Rio has been chosen again to host a major competition as a way to promote the 2007 Pan-American Games that has been awarded to the “Carioca” capital.
32 nations - top ranked fields
160 Athletes from 32 nations are expected to be present. Among those, 85 are in the top 50 of the IAAF World Rankings, and 16 in the Top-10.
Olympic Relay Qualification
Rio also offers an opportunity for national teams (men and women) to register qualifying performances in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays for the Olympic Games in Athens. The Top 16 teams in the world on the basis of the average of their best two performances as of 21 July will be selected for Athens. Click here to read full relay story
Demeritte makes second outdoor outing
On the men’s side, one of the hottest events will be the 200 metres, where Bahamas’ Dominic Demeritte, the 2004 World Indoor Champion in Budapest, will be up against Brazil’s André Domingos da Silva, Cláudio Roberto Sousa and the promising youngster Jorge Célio de Sena.
For Demeritte this will be his second 200m race outdoors of the season, after clocking 20.75 in Athens, Georgia, on 30 April. André won last Saturday in Santiago de Chile at the Orlando Guaita meet in 20.49.
The 400 metres will cast an evenly matched and talented group of athletes together, such as US’ Derrick Brew and Leonard Byrd, Jamaican Michael McDonald, Poland's Rafal Wieruszewski and Brazil’s Anderson Jorge dos Santos.
In the 800 metres, local Osmar Barbosa dos Santos, a classic front-runner, and bronze medalist in Budapest 2004, will face Kenyan Nicholas Wachira, the 2000 World Junior Champions and also Brazilian Valdinei Abílio da Silva. For Osmar and Nicholas will be his first race outdoors, while Valdinei has already ran in 1:47.63.
Paris finalists contest sprint hurdles
The 110m Hurdles will also be very competitive, with two World championships finalists, US’ Chris Phillips, and Brazil’s Márcio Simão de Souza. In the field will be present Mateus Inocêncio, Anselmo Gomes da Silva, both from Brazil, and Ecuador’s Jackson Quiñónez, the best South American athletes at the event.
Sweden’s Staffan Strand will be the attraction of the High Jump competition. The 28 year-old, with personal bests of 2.32 outdoors and 2.35 indoors, is going to be facing locals Jessé de Lima and Fabrício Romero, along with Cuba’s Lisvany Pérez, Czech’s Tomás Janku and Italy’s Nicola Ciotti.
Local hopes pinned on Gregório
In the Triple Jump, local Jadel Gregório, the 2004 World Indoor silver medallist and one of Brazil’s main hopes of medals at the Athens Olympic Games, will have the tough opposition of US’ Tim Rusan, who’s ranked 9 in the world.
In the women's events, the 200m, 800m, 100m Hurdles, the 400m, Hurdles, and the Shot Put, particularly promise to be highly contested.
The 200 metres will cast the battle between Jamaican Beverly McDonald and Cayman Islands Cydonie Mothersill. McDonald, 6th at the World Championships in Saint Denis, and silver medallist in Sevilla ’99, comes after a 23.24 performance at the Jamaica Invitational, last May 7th in Kingston. Mothersill, semi-finalist in Saint Denis, won in Kingston in 22.94.
The 800 metres will be a great South American contest, with the addition of Mozambique’s Tina Paulino and Jamaican Michelle Ballentine. On the track will be the veteran Letitia Vriesde (SUR), Marian Burnett (GUY), and Brazilians Luciana Mendes, Josiane Tito, Juliana Azevedo, Maria Laura Almirão and Pan-American Games medalist Christiane Ritz dos Santos.
The High Hurdles will present two well ranked Jamaicans: Lacena Golding-Clarke and Vonette Dixon. They both come from great performances in Kingston. A personal best for Golding-Clarke (12.69), and a good mark, just 4/100 off her best (12.76) for Dixon. In the race will also be American Donica Merriman (a pb of 12.65 from 2003), and Brazilian Maíla Machado (12.86 this season).
The 400 metres Hurdles also looks like an even event. Barbados Andrea Blackett is the favourite, with her personal best of 53.36 (’99), and a season’s best of 55.73. Her toughest opponents will be South Africa’s Surita Febbraio (55.52 in 2004), Puerto Rican Yvonne Harrison, and Brazil’s Lucimar Teodoro.
Four from World Rankings top-10
The Shot Put will be very interesting as well, with the presence of four athletes in the top 10 of the IAAF World Rankings. Number four in the world, Belarus’ Nadezhda Ostapchuk, the 2003 World Championships silver medallist leads the field, and then appear Cuban Yumileidi Cumbá (6th), Poand's Krystyna Zabawska (7th), and Brazil’s Elisângela Adriano (10th).
Finally as mentioned earlier, the programme includes 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays for both men and women, and at the end of the event - as a trial - a medley mixed relay.
The Programme (local time)
9:00 Men’s 3000m St
9:05 Women’s DT
9:20 Women’s 400mh
9:25 Men’s HJ
9:30 Women’s 800m
9:40 Men’s 800m
9:50 Women’s 200m
10:00 Men’s TJ
10:00 Men’s 200m
10:05 Women’s SP
10:10 Women’s 400m
10:20 Men’s 400m
10:30 Women’s 100mh
10:35 Men’s JT
10:40 Men’s 110mh
10:50 Men’s 1500m
11:00 Women’s 4x100m Relay
11:15 Men’s 4x100m Relay
11:30 Women’s 4x400m Relay
11:45 Men’s 4x400m Relay