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Big guns take to track tomorrow

Usain Bolt headlining a top cast for tomorrow’s meet.

Fifteen recently crowned Olympic champions, 14 reigning World champions and 17 current world leaders will converge upon Zürich’s Letzigrund Stadium tomorrow for another sold-out edition of the Weltklasse Zürich, the first of two high- powered 2012 Samsung Diamond League series finals.

The evening competition’s roster includes many of the biggest names in the sport who will feature in some of the finest face-offs of the season, promising a dramatic conclusion to many of the 17 events whose winners will be decided.

Some athletes, such as Olympic champions Valerie Adams, Sandra Perkovic, Christian Taylor and Renaud Lavillenie, are coming to claim and lift the Diamond Race Trophy they’ve already clinched. But many events remain very much up for grabs, with any one of a number of scenarios – given the double points on offer in Zürich and Brussels (September 7), 8 for first, 4 for second and 2 for third – leading to wildly different outcomes in the battle for each Trophy and the US$40,000 prize that accompanies it.

The biggest name on the programme is that of Usain Bolt, the twice double Olympic individual sprint champion who will be contesting his favourite distance, the 200m, in Zürich. The 26-year-old world record holder followed up his 19.32 Olympic title defence with a solid 19.58 meet record in Lausanne last week. With the Jamaican loose and running pressure-free, the 19.79 meet record set by Wallace Spearmon in 2010 is clearly in danger.

In the race for the Diamond Trophy, Dutchman Churandy Martina (19.85 PB) and Birmingham winner Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica, with 12 and 11 points respectively, are in the driver’s seat if they can finish closest in what is expected to be Bolt’s wake. In all, six of the field’s eight starters have dipped under 20 seconds this season, including Olympic bronze medallist Warren Weir (19.84) and rising star Jason Young (19.86), both of Jamaica.

Bolt’s double sprint triumph in London captured headlines across the globe, but so too did David Rudisha’s powerful and courageous solo run towards a 1:40.91 world record, bar none the most sensational performance of the entire 2012 Olympic Games.

The 23-year-old Kenyan’s only post- Olympic outing will be in Zürich – anyone who has witnessed Rudisha’s displays of speed over the past three seasons knows that whenever he takes to the track, anything is indeed possible. An immediate target is Wilson Kipketer’s 1:41.24 meeting record set 15 years ago, still the fifth fastest performance of all-time.

As has become the norm in the event this season, Rudisha will be chased by three fast teenagers: Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum (1:42.53 PB, SB) of Kenya, Ethiopia’s World indoor champion Mohammed Aman (1:43.20 PB, SB), and another Kenyan, Leonard Kirwa Kosencha (1:43.40 PB, SB). Duane Solomon (1:42.82) of the U.S., who finished fourth in that legendary London final, is also in the field.

In the Trophy race, Rudisha (8 pts) is in a good position to take his third trophy. Only Aman (6 pts) is within striking distance and will have to win to keep Rudisha from a third straight series triumph. (IAAF)

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