International athletes shine on Melbourne stage

5 April 2013

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A number of world-class athletes will descend upon Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium in Albert Park to compete in the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge tomorrow.

Although meet organisers have suffered a blow with Asafa Powell forced out of the meet with injury concerns, a strong international contingent will see the world-wide athletics fraternity watching to see what performances the first meet of the IAAF World Challenge series produces.

The event will be headlined by US sprinter Wallace Spearmon – a three-time world championships medalist – who has been flown in to replace Powell in the 100m. Spearmon will go up against six-time Australian national champion, Josh Ross who will continue with his bid to qualify for the World Championships in Moscow later this year.

There’s something for long-distance fans too, with Kenya’s Japhet Korir to compete alongside Olympic 1500m representative Ryan Gregson in the 5000m. Korir is the latest African distance running star, having won the IAAF World Cross Country Championships just last week.

“I am looking forward to running in Melbourne after the excitement of the World Cross,” Korir told Athletics Australia. “Over the years so many of my countrymen like Rudisha and Kiprop have raced well in Australia and I hope to do the same.”

The meet also sees a mouth-watering match up between Olympic gold and silver medalists, Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford and Australia’s own Mitchell Watt in the long jump. The pair was set to go head-to-head at the Perth Track Classic two weeks ago, but Watt was forced to withdraw from the event.

“It’s fantastic to see that Greg will be out here to jump,” Watt told the Herald Sun. “He’s a great friend of mine and knowing that the long jump will be competitive is a huge thing for the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour.”

Also in action will be hurdler – and YouTube sensation – Michelle Jenneke and Australian Olympic representatives Genevieve LaCaze, Alana Boyd, Jarrod Bannister, Ben Offereins, Kaila McKnight and Zoe Buckman.

The meet will begin at 3pm tomorrow, with the last event scheduled for 7:20pm. It will also be aired on Channel 9 on Sunday at 1pm.

Simone McInnes is a third year Sports Journalism/Psychology student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter at @McSimone.