Olympic sprint double champion Usain Bolt will make his first appearance away from home this season when he competes at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting on Friday (May 25).
The meeting, entering its 51st staging, is a part of the IAAF World Challenge series and will be held in the Czech Republic.
Bolt, the world-leading over 100-metres, at 9.82 seconds, will look to improve on that mark at one of his favourite places to run.
“It’s always important to run good races,” said Bolt on Tuesday. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. I started off the season very well.”
The Jamaican world record holder is also targeting the meeting record of 9.83secs, set by his fellow countryman Asafa Powell in 2010.
“Ostrava’s a good track and I always do extremely well here. So I’m just looking forward to going out there, running well,” he said.
“I’ll definitely like to go faster than my opening race. I think I’m in great shape. My coach is very happy at where I’m at, and I’m very happy with it also.
“So I’m definitely going out there to run very fast, 9.7sec would be good for me.”
Challenging Bolt on Friday will be his fellow Jamaican Lerone Clarke, Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers, USA’s Darvis Patton and St. Kitts and Nevis’ Kim Collins.
Reigning Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica will take on a solid field in the women’s 200m.
Campbell-Brown, who is coming off a confidence boosting victory in her last outing, takes on the likes of Bianca Knight and Tiffany Townsend of USA and Jamaican Sheri-Ann Brooks.
On the men’s side, American Wallace Spearmon leads the way and faces Jamaicans Marvin Anderson and Mario Forsythe and Bahamian Michael Mathieu.
World-leader LaShawn Merritt takes aim at the meeting record for 400m.
The Olympic champion is confident of lowering the 44.70secs, set by Cuban Alberto Juantorena in 1976. The mark is the longest standing record for the meet.
The American, who has gone 44.19 already this season, will be up against World Indoor gold medallist Nery Brenes from Costa Rica, Dominican Luguelin Santos, Edino Steele of Jamaica and South African Oscar Pistorius.
The battle for the women’s honour sees USA’s Sanya Richards-Ross and Briton’s Christine Ohuruogu headlining the field.
Elsewhere, an exciting battle in expected in the women’s 800m with the on form Pamela Jelimo of Kenya and 2009 Berlin World champion Caster Semenya of South Africa locking-horns.
Lots of eyes will also be on Ethiopian rising 800m revelation Fantu Magiso, who posted a sensational 1:57.90 in Doha.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of World record holder David Rudisha from the men’s field is a huge “disappointment” but still remains a strong event with Poland’s Adam Kszczot and Briton Andrew Osagie amongst the starters.
USA’s Dexter Faulk and Ryan Wilson and France’s Ladji Doucoure head up the men’s 110m hurdles field, while LoLo Jones of USA, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada and Briton’s Tiffany Porter will star in the women’s 100m hurdles.
The Ostrava Golden Spike will be broadcast to more than 150 countries all over the world. Amongst the channels streaming live coverage will be Eurosport, Al Jazeera, Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN Star in Asia, CCTV 5 in China, Band Sports in Brazil, Sport Plus of France, PCTV in Mexico.
In addition, Sportmax in Caribbean region, Supersport in South Africa, TV4 Sport in Sweden and Sport TV stations in Portugal and Turkey will also provide live coverage.
TBS of Japan will show the meet delayed. Follow the meet website www.zlatatretra.cz with all the latest infos, including video-interviews.