Reprinted from the Jamaica Observer
Jamaica’s Olympic double sprint champion Elaine Thompson will be out to prove that she is the real deal when she takes on three of the best women’s 200m runners of all time at the Zurich Diamond League today (Thursday) in Switzerland.
Six other Jamaicans will be in action in Omar McLeod, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Simone Facey, Megan Simmonds and Aisha Praught.
Thompson will line up against countrywoman and two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown; Allyson Felix, the 2012 Olympic champion and three-times world champion; plus Dafne Schippers, the 2015 World Champion and 2016 Olympic silver medallist.
Jamaica’s national champion, Facey, along with Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago, Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain and Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland, completes the stellar line-up making this one of the best 200m fields ever assembled.
The champions of the last four Olympics are here in Campbell-Brown (2004, 2008), Felix (2012) and Thompson (2016). It also pits together the fourth, sixth, seventh and 11th fastest women over the distance in the history of the event.
Schippers, who has a personal best of 21.63 in striking gold at the 2015 World Championships, is the fourth fastest time in history. Only world record holder Florence Griffiths-Joyner with 21.34 and 21.56, and the disgraced drug cheat Marion Jones with 21.63 have been quicker.
Thompson with her personal best of 21.66-second clocking is the sixth fastest behind Jamaica’s national record holder Merlene Ottey (21.64) and ahead of American Felix with 21.69. Campbell-Brown had a personal best of 21.74, which is the 11th fastest in history.
It’s a fascinating match-up and it is also the first time in 20 years that four women with sub-22 clocking will clash in the 200m.
Thompson is in the form of her life and will start favourite ahead of Felix and Schippers. Then there should be another interesting battle behind the big three involvimg Facey, Campbell-Brown, Ahye and Asher-Smith for the minor placings.
Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Olympic 110 hurdles champion Omar McLeod will test the waters in the 100m against former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell; American Mike Rodgers; Ben Youssef Meite of Ivory Coast, who made the Olympic 100m final; South Africa’s Akine Simbine; veteran Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis; European champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands; and Great Britain’s duo of Adam Gemili and Chijindu Ujah.
McLeod, who has a 100m personal best of 9.99 seconds, became the first man in history to run the 110 hurdles under 13 seconds. His hurdles best is 12.96 seconds.
National 100m hurdles champion Megan Simmonds will have to lower her personal best of 12.79 if she intends to defeat a top-class field, including world record holder Kendra Harrison (12.20), Jasmine Stowers (12.35), Dawn Harper-Nelson (12.37) — all from the United States of America but who did not make the Olympic roster.
Jamaica’s Aisha Praught will once again participate in the 3,000m steeplechase involving Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet who decimated the previous world record, lowering it to 8:52.78 minutes last week.
Sixteen (16) Diamond Race titles will be decided with a host of Rio Olympics fascinating rematches, and the full complement of medallists in six different disciplines on show.