Wednesday, 14 May 2014

PREVIEW: BT Great City Games Manchester

The annual festival of city athletics returns to the streets of Manchester this weekend, as the BT Great City Games overtakes the city centre for an afternoon of exhilarating athletics action.

Kick-starting the weekend-long programme of sport which culminates with the Bupa Great Manchester Run taking centre stage on Sunday morning - will be Saturday’s BT Great City Games, which will celebrate its sixth year in the north-west.

Taking place on a purpose built track on Deansgate and around Albert Square, many of the world’s finest track and field athletes will gather to compete in the unique urban environment, as spectators enjoy the action at close proximity.

Here are some tips on the top athletes to watch out for -

Men’s 150m

Top billing in the 2014 edition goes to Jamaica’s Yohan Blake. The Olympic 100m and 200m silver medallist will chase the 14.35 150m meeting record, set by his countryman and triple Olympic and world sprint champion, Usain Bolt in 2009.

The Olympic relay champion and 2011 world 100m victor will face team-mate, Kemar Bailey-Cole who placed fourth over 100m in last year’s World Championships in Moscow.

2004 Olympic 4x100m champion, Mark Lewis-Francis heads the British interest, whilst world indoor 400m runner-up, Chris Brown of the Bahamas is an intriguing entrant.

Men’s long jump

Fresh from his British record-breaking display in the USA last month, Greg Rutherford looks set to comfortably repeat his 2013 win.

The closest challenger to the Olympic champion is Ignisious Gaisah of the Netherlands. The world silver medallist and 2006 world indoor champion is joined by Britain’s Olympic finalist and 2008 world indoor runner-up, Chris Tomlinson.

Men’s 100m

Richard Kilty, arguably one of the biggest surprises of the winter courtesy of his world indoor 60m victory, opened his outdoor campaign with a promising 10.12 in Florida last weekend and he will face Qatar’s Femi Ogunode – the bronze medallist behind Kilty in Sopot, Poland in March.

The USA’s Trell Kimmons, the 2012 Olympic 4x100m relay silver medallist, also contests.

Women’s 200m

World 400m champion, Christine Ohuruogu has not competed since anchoring the British squad to the 4x400m relay bronze medal in Sopot, but the 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist should make light work of her toughest competitor, Shana Cox – her team-mate from Poland.

Men’s 200m hurdles

The Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez also steps down in distance, as the Olympic 400m hurdles champion goes up against Jamaica’s Ledford Green and British duo, Andy Turner – a three-time winner in this event and the meeting record-holder with 22.10 - and Sebastian Roger.

Women’s 100m hurdles

USA pair, Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells – the Olympic silver and bronze medallists, respectively – will line up in a tight battle with Britain’s Tiffany Porter, the world bronze medallist indoors and out for company.

Men’s 110m hurdles

Turner, the 2011 world bronze medallist will, as usual, compete both the hurdles disciplines and he is in fine form following long-term injury.

In a solely domestic field, Turner’s nearest rival should be Lawrence Clarke, who is in his best shape since the 2012 season when he finished fourth in the Olympic final.

Women’s 200m hurdles

The USA’s world runner-up, Dalilah Muhammed competes against Britain’s European indoor 400m silver medallist, Eilidh Child.

The Czech Republic’s Denisa Rosolova, the European outdoor runner-up also contests, as will Britain’s global semi-finalist, Meghan Beesley.

Women’s pole vault

Olympic fourth placer, Silke Speigelburg of Germany takes on Greece’s Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou, the European bronze medallist, whilst Sally Peake leads the British challenge.

IPC races

In the International Paralympic Committee races, world 100m and 200m champion Marlou Van Rhijn of the Netherlands starts as favourite in the women’s T44 100m.

In the men’s T44 200m, Australia’s world champion, Jarryd Wallace faces world 400m victor, David Prince of the USA.

Full coverage of the event will be broadcast on BBC One from 1:15pm on Saturday.

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