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World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir set for Melbourne meeting

IAAF World Cross Country champion Japhet Korir (KEN) and three-time World Championships medallist Wallace Spearmon (USA) are the two latest star attractions added to entry lists for the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge this Saturday 6 April.

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The addition of the two champions follows the unfortunate withdrawal of Asafa Powell (JAM) from the men’s 100m as a consequence of a Grade 1 hamstring injury.

Set to compete alongside Australian 1500m record holder Ryan Gregson (NSW) in the men’s 5000m, Korir will arrive in Melbourne less than a fortnight after stunning defending champion Imane Merga (ETH) with his powerful finish to add the open men’s title to his junior African crown from two years ago at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz (POL)

Korir has declared the 5000m will be his focus in 2013, with his start at the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge his first in-stadium event this year.

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

“The 5000m will by my focus this season and the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge is my first chance to race across the distance. It would be good to get the year started well.”

Korir has a 5000m personal best of 13:11.44 set indoors in Dusseldorf last year, and a time similar to this at the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge would rocket him into the world lead. He raced twice across the distance in 2012, clocking 13:20.88 to win at the Meeting National in Carquefou (FRA) before placing 8th in the Kenyan championship one week later.

Like Korir, Spearmon’s year has begun impressively with his 9.92 in the men’s 100m at the Texas Relays on the weekend highlighting the form he will bring to the men’s 100m and men’s 200m at the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge.

Edged out by Warren Weir (JAM, 19.84) for the bronze medal in the men’s 200m at the London Olympic Games, Spearmon’s time of 19.90 was a season best and 0.3 second shy of his personal best of 19.65.

His international athletics resume includes gold medals from the IAAF World and IAAF World Indoor Championships, four medals (three silver, one bronze) from the World Athletics Final, three victories across the Samsung Diamond League and the North and Central American record for the indoor men’s 200m.

Spearmon will provide the ideal challenge for Australian men’s 4x100m relay record holders Tim Leathart (NSW), Josh Ross (Vic), Andrew McCabe (Qld) and Anthony Alozie (Vic), as well as international starters Rushane Scott (JAM) and Joseph Millar (NZL).

Leathart is the fastest Australian to date in 2013, with his very quick 10.24 to win the men’s 100m at the Sydney Track Classic a personal best and just 0.05 outside of the qualifier for the IAAF World Championships.

In 2013, Ross’ domestic campaign has included victory in the 100m in Adelaide and Brisbane and the 200m at the Sydney, Go for 2&5 Perth and Queensland Track Classics. He also won double gold in the short sprints at the Victorian State Championships earlier this month and was a semi-finalist in the Stawell Gift this past weekend.

Powell, despite withdrawing from the men’s 100m, will remain in Melbourne to uphold his commitment to the John Landy Lunch this Friday 5 April and to greet track and field fans at the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge on Saturday afternoon.

The Qantas Melbourne World Challenge will be held at Lakeside Stadium on Saturday 6 April.

Attracting Australia’s best athletes including Mitchell Watt (Qld), Alana Boyd (Qld), Josh Ross (Vic), Jarrod Bannister (Qld) and Evan O’Hanlon (NSW), the event will also welcome Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford (GBR).

The Qantas Melbourne World Challenge is the only meet in Australia sanctioned by the IAAF, with the event doubling as Round One of the IAAF World Challenge. It is the final leg of the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour ahead of the Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney (NSW) on April 11-14.

For more information on the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge, please follow the following links for general event information, entry lists and the event timetable.

Tickets for the event are available through Ticketmaster.

- athletics.com.au

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