Caterine Ibarguen/Photo-M Bascombe

Caterine Ibarguen/Photo-M Bascombe

by Michael Bascombe

PONCE, Puerto Rico, May 13, 2014 – Some of the Caribbean’s top track and field talents will rival their American and European competitors at the Ponce Grand Prix in Puerto Rico on Saturday, the next leg of the IAAF World Challenge League.

Organisers have confirmed that interests among athletes are high and patrons could look forward to one of the most competitive meets in recent times.

Two World Champions, one Olympic Champion and several World and Olympic medallists are included in Saturday’s line-up at the Francisco Montaner Stadium.

They include Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia, who won the women’s triple jump at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Moscow and American LaShawn Merritt, who took the 400 metres title.

Also joining the field is Olympic champion Krisztian Pars of Hungary, who also won the silver in Moscow and among the current world leaders in the Hammer Throw.

Ibarguen, who had a world leading jump of 14.43 at the IAAF Diamond League in Doha last week, should expect a challenge from Cuban Mabel Gay.

Merritt, the current world leader in the men’s 400m, and even without Olympic champion Kirani Jamesof Grenada, will have to contend with a competitive field which includes Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, the man who upstaged Merritt at the Jamaica International Invitational on May 3.

Santos will compete in front of a familiar crowd since he lives and trains in Puerto Rico. Trinidadian Renny Quow; Kevin Borlee of Belgium and Americans Jeremy Wariner, a former multiple Olympic and World champion; David Verburg, Manteo Mitchell, and Kind Butler conclude the 400m field.

The women’s quarter-mile event is also shaping up to be competitive with a battle among Jamaicans Christine Day and Patricia Hall, Kineke Alexander of St Vincent and the Grenadines and American Jessica Beard.

Both 100m events boast some well known names including Richard Thompson and Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago, Antoine Adams of St Kitts and Nevis, Lerone Clarke of Jamaica and Americans Walter Dix, Wallace Spearmon, Maurice Mitchell and Marvin Bracy.

Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago is the top contender on the women’s side with her impressive 11.17 to win at the Meeting International Region Guadeloupe on Saturday. But Carrie Russell of Jamaica and Americans Shalonda Solomon and Barbara Pierre could push the field into competitive times.

The Men’s 400m hurdles will conclude the meet with the homeboy Javier Culson the main class act in the line-up.

Culson, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, will take no chance against his compatriot Eric Alejandro and Jeshua Anderson and Reggie Wyatt Jr. of the United States.

The Ponce Grand Prix is one of three IAAF World Challenge League meetings in the Americas and one of 15 in the world. Competitors will accumulate points toward the IAAF Ranking.

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