World record-holder Asafa Powell and Olympic champion Justin Gatlin will race over 100m for the first time this year at June’s British Grand Prix.
The pair last met in London last year when Powell pulled up after a few strides with a groin problem.
The American world champion and his Jamaican rival both ran 9.95 seconds in separate races over the weekend, but Powell holds the world record of 9.77.
The Norwich Union British Grand Prix takes place in Gateshead on 11 June.
Meeting organisers Fast Track were delighted to secure the contest and although managing director Jon Ridgeon refused to say how much each athlete is being paid, both will almost certainly be receiving a six-figure fee.
“It’s not come cheap but this is the race every person in the world this year has been waiting to see,” Ridgeon admitted.
"There was lots of competition from overseas, but it has always been our policy to fetch the very best of head-to-head races to our meetings.
“We wanted this race so the public can see only the best and they don’t come any bigger than this.”
The 24-year-old Gatlin, who has a personal best of 9.88, will also compete in London (28 July) and Birmingham (19/20 August) this year.
“Gateshead will be my first race in Europe in 2006 and I’m pleased as I’ve not raced there before,” Gatlin said recently.
The American claimed a stunning sprint double at the Helsinki World Championship last season but with no major titles on offer this year he has set his sights on Commonwealth champion Powell’s world record.
“I think this year it would be a great time to try for the 100m world record. I’m the world champion, so of course I want that world record.”
However, he is unlikely to be able to break the record in Gateshead as no athlete has ever gone under 10 seconds in the often wet and windy conditions. :rolleyes: