Many world-class stars will take part in the Compeed Golden Gala on Thursday evening, the third leg of the Samsung Diamond League IAAF, that will take place in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.
The first athlete to arrive was Berlin long jump World champion Brittney Reese, then Portorico’s 400 metres hurdles star Javier Culson, who surprisingly came to the fore by winning the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. Yesterday was the turn of US stars Sanya Richards and Allyson Felix. The former is the reigning 400 metres World champion, the latter is the reigning 200 metres world champion. The Rome’s 800 metres field will also be a world-class race featuring the clash between World champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi from South Africa and Kenyans Asbel Kiprop, Boaz Lalang and David Mutua.
But, needless to say, the most anticipated race will be the fastest: the 100 metres with Usain Bolt (Rome will be the Jamaican’s seasona debut) and his fellow countryman and historical rival Asafa Powell, trying to re-gain the lead and the world record.
Bolt, who currently holds the world records of 100 and 200 metres and the 4×100 metres relay, is already in Rome and said he is “excited” to try the Olymipc Stadium’s fast track. Bolt has never run in Italy.
Let’s have a look at the other races. The 32nd time reigning high jump World champion Blanka Vlasic will try to improve Stefka Kostadinova’s current 2.09 meters world record cleared in Rome’s Olympic Stadium in 1987. In the men’s 5000 metres the already announced Tariku Bekele and Imane Merga, winner in the 2010 Golden Gala and world cross country champion, will face former world cross country champion Joseph Ebuya. The men’s triple jump will feature a star-studded field which includes the already announced Idowu and Copello, the reigning Olympic champion Nelson Evora and European Indoor silver medallist and Italian record holder Fabrizio Donato. The women’s 100 metres hurdles will be highlighted by a clash between world indoor champion LoLo Jones, world seasonal leader Kellie Wells and Olympic champion Dawn Harper. In the women’s 1500 metres world silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei will square off against world champion Jamal and Olympic champion Langat , while Olympic champion and world record holder Gulnara Samitova will make her comeback in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase.
The Golden Gala will start at 6:45pm with the women’s discus throw and will finish at around 10:15pm with the clash between France and Italy for the 4×100 relay. Tickets can be bought online here.