David Neville III dives for bronze in Beijing (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
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Neville to test Australia’s 400m stocks in Sydney and Melbourne – IAAF World Challenge

In what is fast becoming the event of the 2010 Australian domestic season, dual Olympic medallist David Neville of the USA will take on Australia’s best 400m athletes this year as the nation’s top one-lappers look towards Commonwealth Games glory in New Delhi, India, in October.

Neville, who completed a clean sweep for the USA when he took bronze behind countrymen LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and won gold in Olympic record time in the 4x400m Relay, will line up at the Sydney Track Classic at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday, February 27 and the Melbourne Track Classic at Melbourne Olympic Park on Thursday, 4 March, the first of 13 IAAF World Challenge meetings in 2010.

The 25-year-old will face one of the strongest 400m fields ever to have contested the Australian domestic season, with 4x400m World championships bronze medallists Joel Milburn, Ben Offereins, John Steffensen, Tristan Thomas and Sean Wroe set to take it right up to the American star as they step up their preparations for Delhi.

In his debut appearance on the Australian Athletics Tour, Neville, who boasts a personal best time of 44.61, will push Australia’s top 400m runners to what should be a succession of scorching runs at the Sydney and Melbourne meets.

Neville, the first international athlete to be named a starter for the coming Australian season, said he was ready for the challenge he would face on Australian shores this summer.

“I have always seen great results from these meets so I figured why not start my season in Australia? With the 4x400m world championships bronze medallists in the race I know that I will have great competition,” Neville said.

“My goal is to run fast. I feel great and I’m looking forward to starting off the 2010 season in the land down under and showing everyone what I can do."

In 2009 Neville, who is coached by US sprint guru John Smith, took out the bronze medal at the season-ending World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki, Greece.

As one of the most successful coaches of all time Smith has masterminded the careers of Olympic champions Steve Lewis (400m, 1988) and Quincy Watts (400m, 1992), Olympic champions and former World record holders Maurice Greene (100m, 2000) and Kevin Young (400m Hurdles, 1992), and World champions Ato Boldon (200m, 1997) and Inger Miller (200m, 1999).

Smith said Neville would arrive in Australia determined to get his 2010 campaign off to the best possible start.

"David has been talking about running in Australia since his first day at practice. Based on how he’s looking, he’s strong and I expect him to do great things,” Smith said.

Athletics Australia for the IAAF