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Swedes host mouth-watering sprint clash

Swedes host mouth-watering sprint clash

Published: 05 Aug 2010 08:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Aug 2010 08:07 GMT+02:00

Friday's Diamond League men's 100 metres in Stockholm is set to be extra special with the world's three fastest men meeting for the first time since last year's world championships in Berlin.

Jamaica's world record holder Usain Bolt returns to the track where he last tasted defeat two years ago to compatriot and world bronze medalist Asafa Powell while American star Tyson Gay - second to Bolt in the 100m last year in the world final, also lines-up.

Their match-up is as welcome to the sport's governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on what has not been exactly a diamond studded season so far in its inaugural year as it is to the meet organisers.

It should also demonstrate to two-time drugs cheat Justin Gatlin the almost impossible task the 28-year-old American faces in regaining his place amongst

the top forces in the distance after he returned to competition this week in a

low key meet in Estonia following a four year ban.

Gatlin - Olympic champion at the distance in 2004 and crowned world champion at 100 and 200m in 2005 - is not racing here because of a policy taken by organisers that drugs cheats are not welcome.

Gatlin was exposed for the second time as a drugs taker three months after he equalled the world record held then by Powell, who has been totally eclipsed by the younger Bolt ever since he inflicted defeat on him here two years ago.

Powell, though, is raring at the chance to take on both Gay and Bolt, who have both beaten him this season.

"I love it when I am in a race with Tyson and Usain," purred Powell, who for all his promise has only won one international 100m title in the shape of the 2006 Commonwealth Games crown.

"There is a lot more excitement when this is happening. It makes me more focussed and brings the best out of me," he told the IAAF website.

Certainly Bolt - whose world record of 9.58sec could well come under threat - will be anxious to confirm he is still very much the number one after returning from a mid season injury and his appearance here owes a lot to the persistence of meet director Rajne Söderberg, who believes he knows another factor that persuaded the Jamaican to compete.

"I think it was the only 100m race he lost in his professional life (when he lost to Powell) so he probably wants to come back for revenge," said Söderberg.

Söderberg is also convinced that the sell out crowd will see something extra special on Friday.

"This will increase interest in the meeting for the future and talk of the race will linger for years."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:55 August 5, 2010 by krow
Have they not heard of forgiveness? Why not allow Gatlin to race. Seriously, It will be fun to watch Gatlin compete with them. If he is clean then he is clean.
09:16 August 5, 2010 by tuerd1982
punishment is punishment, it should be even harder.
10:21 August 5, 2010 by Plowbridge
I've got my tickets, got good seats, and can't wait. I hear that Powell is now out so that takes off the gloss off but just seeing Usain in action is good enough.
12:24 August 5, 2010 by Audrian
I agree with krow. His punishment was to stay away from competitive sports for four years. A cyclist (I think it is a spaniard) who caught red handed with drugs is back again competiting after a few years. I bet those who are breaking this deal will have their way without consequences.
13:55 August 5, 2010 by RoyceD
Im happy with the ban, I wish it were a life ban to be honest. Once you cheat like that you give up your right to complete for those titles. A world champion who has shown that they think cheating is an option is no champion to look up to.
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