Nassau, BAHAMAS – Top quarter milers LaShawn Merritt (USA) and Kirani James (GRN), along with Olympic Games gold medallists, Veronica Campbell (JAM) and Justin Gatlin (USA), are returning to Nassau for the 2nd Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational.
Like they did at the first edition in 2013, Merritt, who won the 200m with 20.34 and James the 400m in 44.72, will again run the same events at Tom Robinson National Stadium on Saturday, April 16.
Merritt faces fellow Americans Wallace Spearmon and Mike Rodgers, as well as hometown boy, Michael Mathieu in the men’s 200m.
Merritt spoke of the reason behind running the 200m. “The 400m is going to be fast this year, and I feel I need to run a couple 200m (races) to get some competitive speed races under my belt,” he said while pointing to his opener over the half lap event at Florida Relays (March 31-April 2).
“But I want to come here and get a fast time, it’s a good field, I am working on some things and I need some speed up under me,” he laughed.
In the B race, home stars Steven Gardiner and LaToy Williams, along with Jamaicans Jermaine Gonzales and Dane Hyatt and American Calvin Smith are expected to provide a close finish.
James' main rivals in the men’s 400m should be Americans Tony McQuay and two veterans Jeremy Wariner and returning Angelo Taylor along with Trinidad and Tobago Renny Quow.
World silver medalist and 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin, will have his 100m opener of 2016 against Isiah Young and Qatari record holder, Femi Ogunode. Jamaican Dexter Lee, Emmanuel Callender of Trinidad and Tobago and Bahamas’ Adrian Griffiths are also in the event.
Jatlin said he is in good shape, so “hopefully I will be able to put down a good time.”
American 2013 World champion David Oliver runs the hurdles against compatriot and 2011 World champion Jason Richardson, Jamaicans World Indoor champion Omar McLeod and Andrew Riley and Barbados duo Greggmar Swift and Shane Brathwaite.
Jamaican Tyler Mason and American Aleec Harris are also in the event.
World bronze medalist Jeffery Gibson hopes to win the 400m hurdles in a race against 2013 World champion Jehue Gordon, Puertorico star Javier Culson, Johnny Dutch of USA and Jamaican duo Leford Green with Roxroy Cato.
Bahamians Donald Thomas, Trevor Barry, Ryan Ingraham and Jamal Wilson are set to battle in the men’s high jump. Leevan Sands, Bahamas’ triple jump hero, and American Christian Taylor will clash.
In women sprints, Jamaica’s two-time Olympic Games 200m gold medallist Campbell-Brown is down for her season opener at 100m against Ivory Coast World medalist, Murielle Ahoure and Trinidad and Tobago’s relay World medalist, Michelle Lee-Ahye.
Jamaica’s 2004 Olympic Games 4x100m gold medallist Aleen Bailey makes a return to the track, and is also down for the 100m.
American World Championships bronze medallist Tori Bowie is the one to beat in the women’s 200m, which also has compatriots, Candyce McGrone, Natasha Hastings and Joanna Atkins, along with Trinidad and Tobago’s Semoy Hackett.
The highly anticipated women’s 400m will have hometown heroine, Shaunae Miller. She is expected to attack the World lead in duel with Americans, Ashley Spencer and Jessice Beard.
Miller said: “Im pretty excited to be competing home for my first meet (of 2016).”
The World Championships silver medallist added, "training is going extremely well" and she is "excited to be opening up to see what kind of time I will put down."
Top names in women 100m hurdles, are Sharika Nelvis, Jasmin Stowers and Queen Harrison from USA against Jamaican Kimberly Laing.
Olympic 2012 finalist, Terea Brown is the top name in the 400m hurdles with Jamaican, Shevon Stoddart, Canadian, Fawn Dorr and Nigerian, Ajoke Odumosu.
Bianca Stuart, Bahamian long jump queen, takes on BVI’s Chantel Malone, Jamaican Shanieka Thomas, and American, Chelsea Hayes in her pet event.