MANHATTAN, New York – Two of the Caribbean’s high profile athletes will compete at the 110th NYRR Millrose Games to be held here at the Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Centre.
Jamaica’s reigning IAAF World Indoor 60m and 110mh Olympic champion, Omar McLeod, and Bahamian superstar, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who won gold in the women’s 400m at the Rio Olympics in stunning fashion, will kick off their 2017 season.
McLeod, a fierce competitor, must be keeping a watchful eye on the performances of his rivals. Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi is the world leader after dipping below 7.50 twice and recording a personal best 7.44. The Rio Olympic silver medallist, Orlando Ortega, of Spain with 7.51, follows him on the world list. McLeod, whose personal best is 7.41, will be hoping on Saturday to send out a reminder that he currently wears the crown and will still be around. McLeod will have his Rio teammate Andrew Riley as well as the speedy American, Aleec Harris, to push him towards a fast time.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, in her first race since getting married, will renew her rivalry with Rio finalist and hometown favourite Natasha Hastings in the women’s 300m. The 22 year-old Bahamian has signalled her intentions to do the 200m/400m double at the London World Championships and this race is seen as a work in progress. Miller-Uibo, a tall, powerful and extremely fast athlete, has fond memories of the NYRR Millrose Games where she registered her personal best (36.10) over 300m in 2014.
Hastings, a two-time 1600m relay gold medallist, will no doubt be motivated to compete in front of family and friends. It will be Hasting’s season opener and with her customary aggressive front running style, a very keen battle with Miller is expected.
World U20 record holder in the women’s 400m hurdles, Sydney McLaughlin, will be joining Miller and Hastings adding lustre to the event. McLaughlin, who set tongues wagging last year when she made the US Olympic team at 16, will be targeting the national high school record (36.96) set by Francena McCorory in 2006. The teenage sensation has a personal best of 37.11 done in January this year.
Dalilah Muhammad, the first US woman to win 400m hurdles gold at an Olympic Games, was one of the great stories of 2016. The New Yorker from Queens who has been competing at the Armory since the tender age of seven (7), makes her return to one of her favourite venues for the first time since 2011.
Muhammad, who experimented with various disciplines prior to discovering her true calling, will be competing in the 500m an event she has scarcely contested as part of her preparation for the outdoor season. She will be up against tough opposition that will no doubt test her speed limits.
Among them are Team USA’s 1600m relay gold medallist in Courtney Okolo and Alysia Montano. Courtney Okolo was a college standout, winning the NCAA 400m title on three occasions, before her transition to being a fixture on Team USA’s 4x400m relay pool in recent years. Alysia Montana, who had a heart-wrenching exit from the US Olympic 800m trials, is an athlete on the comeback trail and seeking positive results this season.
Lalonde Gordon, London 400m Olympic bronze medallist, will aim to continue his good early season form when he squares off against Bershawn Jackson and Vernon Norwood in the men’s 500m.
Clayton Murphy, the 800m bronze medallist in Rio, will make his debut at the NYRR Millrose Games. Murphy, the third fastest American over 800m (1:42.93), will compete in the Wanamaker mile which is one of the signature events of the meet. Murphy will face a formidable line up that includes Leo Manzano, Robbie Andrews, Kyle Merber, Johnny Gregorek and Colby Alexander which is likely to bring the fans to the edge of their seats in the closing stages.
Another featured event will be the men’s two-mile run which will pay tribute to Finland’s greatest athlete, the legendary Paavo Nurmi. The race, which is named in Nurmi’s honour, has attracted the likes of Matthew Centrowitz, the Rio Olympic champion at 1500m and 2016 US male athlete of the year, as well as world indoor 3000m silver medallist, Ryan Hill.
The Centrowitz/Hill match up should have the crowd riveted throughout as both men will be eyeing the American record of 8:07.41 held by Galen Rupp. Joining them in this mouth-watering contest, which is a fitting tribute to Paavo Nurmi, are Canada’s Mo Ahmed, who finished fourth in the men’s 5000m in Rio, and USA’s Hassan Mead who placed 11th. Jamaica’s leading distance runner, Kemoy Campbell, will also be in the mix.
Remona Burchell, an upcoming Jamaican sprinter, will face the competitive American Tianna Bartoletta in the women’s 60m. Leah Nugent, a 400mh Rio finalist, along with two other Jamaicans (Janice Jackson and Shanice Grant) will match strides with Sharika Nelvis in the women’s 60m hurdles.