Banamex Grand Prix Athletic Show

An array of World and Olympic champions set to make the show in Mexico without Guevara

Thursday 20 May 2004

Mexico City, Mexico - Almost 20 World and Olympic medallists are set to highlight the 2nd Banamex Grand Prix Athletic Show, to be held this Saturday (22 May) at the Estadio Olímpico Universitario in the Mexican capital.

Unfortunately, Mexico’s World champion Ana Guevara has had to withdraw due to a foot injury. The 27-year old Mexican idol would have been the star attraction at the competition in her home country, but having made the Olympic Games her priority this year, she is unwilling to take any risks.

She has not been able to compete so far in 2004 due to tendinitis in her left foot and only returned to training two weeks ago.

Freeman to be honoured

Last year, Guevara was the star of the inaugural Grand Prix, when she set a new world best over the rarely contested 300m distance (35.30), defeating Australia’s Olympic champion Cathy Freeman in front of a 50,000 plus crowd.

The 2004 Banamex Grand Prix Athletic Show will honour Freeman, the 1997 and 1999 World champion and the 2000 Sydney champion in the 400m, who put an end to her successful career last July.

With Guevara out, the main competitive focus will now be on the glittering line-up of international stars

Competitive dash

USA’s Tim Montgomery, the fastest man ever, has made a last minute decision to run in Mexico, as he did last year. Montgomery wants to take revenge from last year’s defeat to Canada’s Nicholas Macrozonaris, who is also registered to race.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Darrel Brown and Great Britain’s Darren Campbell, World silver and bronze medallists in the French capital, and five sub-10 second performers: Nigeria’s Emedolu Uchenna and USA’s Bernard Williams, John Capel, Jon Drummond and Mickey Grimes complete the all-star list in the men’s 100m.

In the women’s sprint field, USA’s Torri Edwards, Chryste Gaines, Inger Miller, Allyson Felix and Bahamas’ Olympic 4x100m relay gold medallist Debbie Ferguson will start as the top favourites.

World versus Olympic clashes in Hurdles and Long Jump

There are two other events that should call special gain special attention as both the men’s 110m Hurdles and Long Jump will have the Olympic and World champions aiming to win.

In the sprint hurdles, USA’s Allen Johnson, the world’s number one in the 110m Hurdles, aims to break the Estadio Olímpico Universitario’s 35-year old stadium record (13.33), set by US Willy Davenport when he cinched the gold medal in the 1968 Olympic Games.

In Mexico this year, the quadruple World outdoor champion is expected to face strong opposition from Cuba’s Olympic champion Anier Garcia, Yuniel Hernandez, Yoel Hernandez and USA’s Duane Ross. Johnson is one of the six 2003 winners who will return to Mexico this year.

Garcia has recently recovered from a slight muscle injury which forced him to curtail his 2004 indoor season.

In the Long Jump Cuba’s Olympic gold medallist Ivan Pedroso will face USA’s Dwight Phillips and Savanté Stringfellow, the current outdoor and indoor World champions, respectively.

Pedroso, who has also won nine World titles - five indoors and four out - wants to regain the world’s no.1 spot, which now belongs to Phillips after claiming the 2003 World titles, indoor in Birmingham and outdoor in Paris.

Phillips has shown great form this season. He improved his personal best with a world leading 8.43 to win a meeting in Modesto, on 8 May. Stringfellow is also in fine form, after leaping 8.31 in Walnut, California, on 18 April.

Other notable jumpers confirmed are USA’s Kevin Dilworth, Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah, fourth in Paris, and Cayman Islands’ 2001 World Indoor bronze medallist Kareem Streete-Thompson, the fastest of all jumpers.

Cloete faces best local hope

South Africa’s Hestrie Cloete, the World Female Athlete of 2003, is defending her 2003 title in the High Jump. Among her rivals are Romary Rifka, the 2003 Pan American Games silver medallist, who improved the Mexican record with a world leading 1.97 in Xalapa, on 4 April. As Guevara has opted out, Rifka carries the host country’s best hopes in the Banamex Grand Prix.

Back to the track, the men’s 400m promises to be a good race with Paris winner Jerome Young and runner-up Tyree Washington set to hold off the challenge of Grenada’s 2004 World Indoor champion Alleyne Francique. The latter has been the fastest man this year thanks to his 44.47 win in Osaka, on May 8.

Kenya’s Bernard Lagat, the 1500m Olympic bronze medallist and the current World Indoor 3000m champion, will run the 800m against Spain’s 2002 World Cup winner Antonio Reina and other top class runners.

Quality line-up

In all, thirteen medallists from the 2003 World Championships in Paris, including nine individual and relay champions, will guarantee a top quality event, as well as seven Sydney 2000 gold medallists.

The field also features four 2004 World Indoor champions, other seven past World medallists (indoors and out), as well as eight individual and relay winners from the 2002 World Cup in Madrid.

As last year, 13 events will be contested: 100, 200, 400 metres and long jump for both men and women. Men will also compete in 800, 3000m and 110m Hurdles, while women will do the 1500m and High Jump as well.

Located in the southern part of Mexico City and a facility of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Olympic Stadium has seen 30 World record equalled or broken, including a record 24 global marks in the 1968 Olympics.

It has also hosted the 1954 and 1990 Central American and Caribbean, the 1955 and 1975 Pan American Games, the 1979 World University Games and the 1988 Iberoamerican Championships.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF

Meet records and 2003 inaugural GP winners:

100m: 10.03 Nicholas Macrozonaris CAN
200m: 20.13 Coby Miller USA
400m: 44.83 Derek Brew USA
800m: none
3000m: 8:04.21 Shadrack Kosgei KEN
110m Hurdles: 13.42 Allen Johnson USA
Long Jump: 8.46 Miguel Pate USA

100m: 11.02 Chryste Gaines USA
200m: 22.11 Allyson Felix USA
400m: none
1500m: 4:26.59 Nouria Mérah-Benida
High Jump: 1.96 Hestrie Cloete RSA
Long Jump: 6.49 Jackie Edwards BAH