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USATF announce featured athletes for Pontiac Grand Prix Invitational


USATF

6 June 2000 – Indianapolis - Sprinting and jumping superstar Marion Jones headlines a star-studded international field for the 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix Invitational June 17 in Raleigh, N.C., USA Track & Field announced Tuesday. The meet has been designated as an IAAF Grand Prix event in only its second year, and world champions, Olympic gold medallists and world record holders will gather in Raleigh to compete for points on the IAAF Grand Prix circuit.

Jones, a local hero who with husband C.J. Hunter lives in the area and trains at Paul Derr Track, site of the meet, is scheduled to compete in the long jump in Raleigh. Other American standouts competing include Allen Johnson, Jearl Miles Clark, Charles Austin, Stacy Dragila, Johnny Gray, Regina Jacobs, Marla Runyan and John Godina. The meet's IAAF Grand Prix standing has attracted top-flight foreign athletes from Canada, Africa, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

"USA Track & Field is proud to present a phenomenal line-up of athletes for the Pontiac Grand Prix Invitational," said USATF CEO Craig Masback. "Top American athletes will have the opportunity to compete head-to-head with the people they'll be battling for Olympic Team spots this July in Sacramento, as well as those they'll face at the Olympics themselves. We our indebted to our sponsors, Pontiac Grand Prix, adidas, GMC Envoy, and Visa for enabling USA Track & Field to secure such an impressive, international lineup."

The Pontiac Grand Prix Invitational kicks off the 2000 Outdoor Golden Spike Tour, a series of three nationally televised meets leading up to the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, July 14-23 in Sacramento, Calif.

The following is a event-by-event, partial list of athletes who will compete in the 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix Invitational. Complete start lists will be posted on the USATF Web site (http://www.usatf.org) on Wednesday, June 7. All start lists are tentative and subject to change. Time schedule for the meet will be released shortly.

Men

100 metres: Look for three of America's finest sprinters to battle it out as Olympic medallists Mike Marsh and Tim Harden take on rising star John Capel. Marsh is the 1992 Olympic 200 metres gold medallist, Harden is the 1998 U.S. 100 metre champion and the 21-year-old Capel is among America's top young stars. He enters the meet with personal bests of 10.03 in the 100 metres and 19.87 in the 200 metres.

400 metres: The 1991 world outdoor champ at this event, Antonio Pettigrew, will have his hands full against a group of talented newcomers. The toughest competition should come from Jerome Davis, who ended '99 ranked 7th globally. Angelo Taylor, who ended the '99 campaign ranked #1 nationally and #2 in the world in the 400-metre hurdles, will also compete in the flat 400 in Raleigh.

800 metres: The old vs. new theme at this year's Pontiac Grand Prix is most prevalent in the men's 800 as young guns Khadevis Robinson and Bryan Woodward battle veterans Johnny Gray and Mark Everett. Look for Woodward, who ended the '99 campaign ranked 1st in the U.S. and is the 2000 indoor national champion, to be the favorite. Gray, the American record holder who will turn 40 just prior to July's Trials in Sacramento, won two events during this year's indoor Golden Spike Tour. The defending U.S. champ, Robinson enters the event ranked 2nd in the U.S., and Everett, a two-time Olympian, finished last year ranked 6th nationally.

1500 metres: This highly competitive race will feature Americans David Krummenacker and 1996 Olympian Karl Paranya against a seasoned group of international athletes. Julius Achon of Uganda, Kevin Sullivan of Canada and Niall Bruton of Ireland make this among the most international fields in the meet. Krummenacker finished the '99 campaign ranked #3 in the U.S. in the 1,500, and 3rd nationally in the 800 metres. Paranya ended '99 ranked sixth nationally.

110 metre hurdles: Many of the world's top hurdlers will face off in this wide-open race. Two-time world champ and 1996 Olympic gold medallist Allen Johnson will take on young lions Dominique Arnold and Terrence Trammell, who bring respective bests of 13.11 and 13.28. Also watch out for veteran Eugene Swift, who was ranked sixth nationally in 1999.

High jump: 1996 Olympic gold medalist and American record holder Charles Austin is looking to stake his claim as the world's best high jumper again in 2000. Austin, who last year won his 5th straight U.S. outdoor title, will take on last year's #2 American, Henry Patterson. Both men will face an intense challenge from Nathan Leeper, the 1998 NCAA champion who established a new career best on May 31 with a clearance of 7 feet, 7.75 inches.

Shot put: Four of the world's top seven shot putters, all Americans, are entered in this event. As the 1999 world champion and #1 ranked athlete in the world, C.J. Hunter leads the list. He will be challenged by two-time world outdoor champ and 1996 Olympic silver medallist John Godina, who finished '99 ranked 4th in the world. Andy Bloom set a new PR in capturing the 2000 U.S. indoor title with a throw of 70-10.5 and finished 1999 ranked fifth globally. Kevin Toth will also compete in Raleigh after eclipsing the 70-foot barrier twice last season. With a seasonal best of 70-10, Toth ended the '99 campaign ranked 7th in the world.

Women

100 metres: The women's sprint features top Caribbean and American talent. Chandra Sturrup from the Bahamas leads the list after a terrific 1999 campaign where she had a best of 10.96 and finished 7th at the World Championships. Merlene Frazer of Jamaica, who finished last year ranked #5 in the world at 200 metres, also highlights the field, as do Americans Nanceen Perry, who placed 7th at last year's U.S. Outdoors Championships; and Olympic 1992 and 1996 relay gold medallist Carlette Guidry.

400 metres: The 1993 world champ at 400 metres, Jearl Miles Clark, enters the event as the top American. Although she only ran the 400 on three occasions last year, Miles Clark ended the campaign ranked #1 in the U.S. Competition will come from World Championships silver medallist Lorraine Graham of Jamaica. Other Americans in this event include 1996 Olympic relay gold medalist Maicel Malone-Wallace and 1999 NCAA indoor and outdoor champ Suziann Reid, who won her first USA national title at the 2000 Indoor Championships.

1500 metres: Two of America's top middle-distance runners and an Olympic standout from Australia lead the field. Two-time World Championships silver medalist Regina Jacobs is an 8-time U.S. champ in this event. She will be challenged by Australia's Margaret Crowley, who placed 5th at the 1996 Olympics, and Marla Runyan, who placed 10th in Seville and won the 2000 U.S. indoor title at 3000 metres. Other top Americans and their 1999 U.S. rankings include Stephanie Best (3rd) and Amy Rudolph (6th). Hazel Clark, the 2000 U.S. indoor champ, is also in the field.

100 metre hurdles: American Melissa Morrison returns to defend her Pontiac Grand Prix title after a terrific 1999 in which she was ranked #2 in the U.S. and #5 in the world. Anjanette Kirkland is the #1 contender with the fastest time by an American this year with her 12.63 clocking at Mt SAC. Fellow American Sharon Jewell should provide stiff competition after finishing the '99 campaign ranked 10th in the world, as should Andria King, who placed 4th at last year's U.S. Nationals.

400 metre hurdles: 1999 USA runner-up Michelle Johnson leads a talented group of athletes in this non-Grand Prix, Olympic Development event. After taking time off to give birth to a son in the fall of 1998, Tonja Buford-Bailey looks to regain the same form that earned her the bronze medal at the 1996 Olympic Games. 1992 Olympic silver medallist Sandra Farmer-Patrick, ranked #1 in the U.S. from 1988-1993 and #1 in the world in 1989, 1991 & 1992, is in the field as well. Additional challengers in this event and their 1999 U.S. rankings: LaTanya Sheffield (5th), Trevaia Davis (6th) and Nikkie Bouyer (10th).

Pole vault: As the only woman to win world indoor and outdoor championships in this event, Stacy Dragila enters the Pontiac Grand Prix as a heavy favourite. On May 26, Dragila broke her own world record in Phoenix with a clearance of 4.62 metres (15-1.75). She broke the world indoor record four times this winter, finally raising the standard to 15-1.75 while winning her fifth straight U.S. indoor title in Atlanta. Kellie Suttle, who placed 2nd to Dragila at last year's U.S. Nationals and finished 10th at the 1999 World Outdoor Championships, will also be on hand to battle for the title. Other nationally ranked vaulters in the field include Mel Mueller (2nd in the U.S., 8th in the world), Melissa Price (4th), Kim Becker (5th) and Jill Wittenwyler (6th).

Long jump: Marion Jones returns to defend her Pontiac Grand Prix title after winning the event on her final attempt last year. Jones captured the bronze medal in the long jump at the 1999 World Championships, won the 100 at Seville, and for the third consecutive year was ranked as the world's best at 100 and 200 metres. She will face fellow 1999 nationally ranked Americans Shana Williams (2nd), Dawn Burrell (3rd) and Adrien Sawyer (4th). Look for Lacena Golding, a 1996 Olympian from Jamaica, to challenge the American contingent in Raleigh.

Discus throw: America's finest discus throwers will battle it out against the 1997 world champion Beatrice Faumuina of New Zealand. Faumuina placed 5th in Seville last year but will face a stiff challenge from an American contingent, led by Kris Kuehl, who finished 2nd at last year's U.S. Championships, and ended the 1999 campaign ranked 2nd nationally. Additional American challengers and their 1999 rankings: Aretha Hill (3rd), Dawn Dumble (5th), Suzy Powell (6th), Edie Boyer (7th) and Dawn Ellerbe (10th).