More standout stars were announced by organisers of the Compeed Golden Gala, the third leg of the Samsung Diamond League, which will celebrate it's 31st edition on 26 May.
At the moment, 15 Olympic gold medallists, 19 reigning World champions and 10 European champions will be taking part at the historical 1960 Olympic Stadium in the Italian capital.
As previously announced, the headline act will be the face-off between Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell, the current and former World record holders in the 100m. Bolt, also the reigning World and Olympic champion will compete in Italy for the first time while Powell will be returning to the Golden Gala for the seventh time. The 100m field also includes tripe European champion Christophe Lemaitre of France.
Rome will also await Kenyan David Rudisha, who broke the historic 800m World record for the second time in a week in Rieti last year clocking 1:41.01. The Kenyan star will take on South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, reigning World outdoor champion, and Sudanese Abubaker Kaki, the reigning World indoor champion, and Kenyan Alfred Kirwa Yego, the Olympic bronze medallist in Beijing and World silver medallist in Berlin.
Merga ready to defend
The man to beat in the men’s 5000m will be Ethiopian Imane Merga, who won last year in Rome and more recently took the World Cross Country title. The men’s 400 m Hurdles will feature two US super stars - twice Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and twice World champion Kerron Clement.
The women’s sprint race field will not be less impressive with 400m World champion Sanya Richards and 200m World champion Allyson Felix who will clash twice in one hour in an unusual double battle in the 200 and 400m. Their top rivals in the 200m will be Jamaican Kerron Stewart, Olympic bronze medallist in the 200m and World silver medallist in the 100m, and Bahamas’ Debbie Ferguson McKenzie, former 200m World champion and third at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. World and Olympic silver medallist Shericka Williams will run the 400m.
The women’s 1500m will be highlighted by top names such as World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal and Olympic champion Nancy Langat, while the women’s 3000m Steeplechase will feature Kenyan Milcah Chemos Cheywa, the World bronze medallist and 2010 Diamond League winner in her discipline. World Indoor and Outdoor champion Brittney Reese will the top name in the women’s Jong Jump.
Champions and medallists galore in the throws
Great athletes will be in the spotlight in the throwing events. The entire Olympic podium of the women’s Javelin Throw will compete in Rome with Czech World record holder Barbora Spotakova (gold), Russian Mariya Abakumova (silver) and German Christina Obergfoll.
The men’s Shot Put podium from the World Championships in Berlin 2009 will be in the spotlight with US gold medallist Christian Cantwell (together with his compatriot Reese Hoffa), Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski (silver) and German Ralf Bartels (bronze).
In the women’s Discus Throw Cuban Olympic and World silver medallist Yarelis Barrios will come up against European gold medallist Sandra Perkovic and Berlin’s World bronze medallist Nicoleta Grasu.
Spotlight on Di Martino
??Italian High Jump record holder Antonietta Di Martino will return to competitions at the Olympic Stadium in her first meeting since her European Indoor victory in Paris, which she won at the end of a winter season highlighted by her 2.04m Italian Indoor record. Among the fiercest rivals for Di Martino, who won the Golden Gala in 2009 beating World champion Blanka Vlasic, are Barcelona’s European silver medallist Emma Green and Spaniard Ruth Beitia, the indoor World and European silver medallist.
In the men's Triple Jump, Fabrizio Donato, European indoor silver medallist with the new Italian indoor record of 17.73m will face Cuban World bronze medallist Alexis Copello from Cuba, Sweden’s Christian Olsson, Olympic gold medallist in Athens 2004 ahead of Romania’s Marian Oprea, another star in the Italian meeting on 26 May.
In the men’s Pole Vault Giuseppe Gibilisco will come up against French super star Renaud Lavillenie, European Indoor and outdoor champion and World bronze medallist. Italian 400m record holder Libania Grenot will run the 200m, while Marta Milani will run the 400m. The one-lap race will feature Italian champion Marco Vistalli who will try to pose some opposition to World indoor champion Chris Brown, Olympic bronze medallist Neville and World bronze medallist Quow.
The 4x100 relay will be be highlighted by the first clash between Italy and France since the Euroepan Championships in Barcelona.
??The Compeed Golden Gala will be one of the major events which will take place in the Eternal City which is bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games and the major Italian athletics meeting will certainly play an important role in the Olympic bid.
“We want to attract more people to the Golden Gala to make it a popular event for the city,” said Rome’s Mayor Gianni Alemanno.
Organisers for the IAAF