Czech hammer thrower Lukas Melich (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Belem, Brazil

Three world leaders to highlight Belem Grand Prix

The Brazilian city of Belem will host the 29th edition of the "Grande Premio Brasil/Caixa de Atletismo” on Sunday 12 May. The meet is part of the IAAF World Challenge and is the most important athletics event in Latin America.

The Mangeirao Stadium in the tropical city of Belem expects to welcome more than 30,000 fans and three 2013 world Leaders – Brazilian 800m runner Kleberson Davide, Czech hammer thrower Lukas Melich and Cuban triple jumper Ernesto Reve.

Melich will be the main attraction of the Hammer, a competition that also features in the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge. Last weekend at the Tokyo Golden Grand Prix, the 32-year-old threw 79.00m – the third-best performance of his career and just 44cm shy of his PB.

The Olympic finalist will face Tajikistan’s World finalist Dilshod Nazarov, Pan-American Games champion Kibwe Johnson of the USA, and 2000 Olympic champion Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland.

Davide, silver medallist at the 2011 Pan-American Games, clocked 1:44.84 in March and will take on a competitive field in the 800m which includes fellow Brazilian Diego Gomes (1:45.88 last month), and the 2011 South American Champion Rafith Rodriguez of Colombia.

Reve is the latest product of the very prolific Cuban Triple Jump school. The 21-year-old jumped 17.46m in Havana to win the National Championships, improving on his 17.40m PB from 2011. His main aim now is to consolidate his credentials heading towards the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.

His main rivals in Belem will be the Brazilians Jonathan Silva, who set his PB of 17.39m last year, and the 30-year-old veteran Jefferson Dias Sabino, who has a 17.28m PB from 2008.

Olympic Relay medallists feature in sprints

In other events, a fine trio of Trinidad & Tobago sprinters lead the 100m headed by Emmanuel Callender, Marc Burns and Rondel Sorrillo. Callender and Burns were members of the 4x100m team that grabbed the Olympic Bronze in London 2012.

Michael Mathieu, part of Bahamas’ 4x400m team that won Olympic gold in London last year, leads the 200m field. The 29-year-old has good memories of the Belem meet, having set a personal best of 20.16 here last year. His main rivals for Sunday will be Canadian Jared Connaughton (20.30 in 2012), Jamaican Mario Forsythe (20.33 in 2012) and Brazilian Bruno de Barros (2011 World finalist).

USA’s Antwon Hicks, who has a 13.09 PB and finished fourth at the 2012 US Trials, is the main attraction of the 110m Hurdles after his 13.25 victory in Kingston last week where he went to second in the 2013 world lists.

Cuban Lazaro Borges, the 2011 World silver medallist and Pan-American champion, is the top name in the Pole Vault field. But Brazilians Augusto de Oliveira, who cleared a South American indoor record of 5.71m this year, and Fábio Gomes da Silva, the South American record-holder outdoors with 5.80m, will aim to upset the Cuban and also challenge the South American record.

Da Silva hoping to delight home crowd

Mauro Vinicius da Silva, the 2012 World indoor Long Jump champion, is one of the Brazilian athletes of the moment. Da Silva, who has jumped 8.00m so far this year, will be hoping for a victory in Belém, and is targeting the 8.20m standard to qualify for the Moscow World Championships. Spain’s European silver medallist Luis Felipe Meliz appears to be his toughest rival.

One of the most interesting races on the programme could be the women’s 100m. USA’s 32-year-old Mikele Barber, who has clocked 11.16 so far this year, will face 2008 World junior 200m champion Sheniqua Ferguson of the Bahamas, who boasts a PB of 11.07 from last year. But Brazilian Ana Claudia da Silva is in top form after setting a South American record of 11.13 earlier this month in Campinas, after clocking a windy 10.93 (2.2m/s) in the preliminary rounds.

Getting close to her 37th birthday, Brazil’s Maurren Maggi is set to begin her competitive season in Belem. The 2008 Olympic Long Jump champion will have Britain’s Abigail Irozuru (6.80m in 2012) and Bahamian record-holder Bianca Stuart (6.81m PB from 2011) as her principal adversaries.

The Belem meet will mark the beginning of the 2013 Brazilian Athletics Tour, a series of three meetings around Brazil that will continue in Uberlandia on 16 May and in Sao Paulo on 19 May.

Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF