NEW YORK, N.Y. (May 18) – Marquee match-ups for the women’s and men’s 5,000 meter, women’s 100 meter, women’s 400 meter, women’s 200 meter and men’s 110 meter hurdles for the 2009 Reebok Grand Prix announced today by organizers of the 2009 Reebok Grand Prix.
Ethiopia’s double Olympic gold medalist at 5,000 and 10,000 meters and nine-time world champion Tirunesh Dibaba will make her 2009 debut in the women’s 5,000m. Dibaba, who has set three world records in her young but wildly successful career, will be challenged by, among others, Kim Smith from New Zealand. Smith was a four-time NCAA Champion at Providence and is the New Zealand national record holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
The women’s 100 meter dash features a world-class field including defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and American Olympic silver medalist Lauryn Williams. Campbell-Brown and Williams have gone head-to-head multiple times in recent years and have a history of performing well in major competitions. The two-time Olympic gold medalist at 200 meters, Campbell-Brown defeated Williams in a photo finish at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka in the 100m.
The superb field for the men’s 5,000 meter event is headlined by defending 1,500 meter and 5,000 meter World Champion Bernard Lagat of the United States. Reigning World Cross Country Champion Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia, 2008 Olympic 5,000 meter bronze medal-winner Edwin Soi of Kenya and 2008 Olympic 10,000 meter bronze medalist Micah Kogo also of Kenya will take on Lagat in a race that will threaten to break the 13 minute barrier for the first time ever on US soil. In 1996, Bob Kennedy was the first American athlete to run inside 13 minutes for 5,000 meters, and his American Record still stands at 12:58.21.
America’s best will face Jamaica’s best in the women’s 400 meters. The American duo of Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards will take on Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills and Shericka Williams. Felix, America’s reigning World Champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist at 200 meters, ran the world-leading time at 400 meters several weeks ago in Doha. Sanya Richards has been dominated at this distance with the fastest time in the world in three of the last four years.
One of Jamaica’s sprint divas from the 2008 Olympics, Shelly-Ann Fraser, will take center stage in the women’s 200 meters. Fraser won gold at 100 meters at the 2008 Olympics with a personal best time of 10.78 seconds. Among her challengers will be up and coming Americans Shalonda Solomon and Bianca Knight. Solomon set an indoor American Record at 300 meters in February and Knight won the NCAA Indoor Championships at 200 meters in 2008.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell, Jamaican Olympic finalist Maurice Wignall, 2005 World Championship gold medalist Ladji Doucouré of France will square off against 2008 Olympic silver medalist David Payne in the men’s 110 meter hurdles. Doucouré, who finished fourth behind Payne in Beijing, won the gold medal at European Indoor Championships in the 60 meter hurdles last March.