GEORGE TOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS – Sprint sensation Usain Bolt will open his 2016 season at the Cayman Invitational at Truman Bodden Stadium in George Town on Saturday (14).
The world record holder who is preparing to defend his sprint titles at the Rio Olympics in Brazil later this summer, will feature in the men’s 100m where he’s hoping to get his season off to a quality start.
“Last time here I got an extremely warm welcome,” said Bolt, who is looking forward to racing in the Caribbean again.
“I like to compete in the Caribbean, this is my first race and it should be exciting.”
Bolt, who will be lining up in his first 100m race since he secured the gold medal in the event at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, last year, will battle with countryman and training partner Kemar Bailey-Cole.
“It will be my first international competition in 2016 and my second time to run in Cayman,” the Jamaican who won the event in 2013, said last month.
Bailey-Cole, the 2014 Commonwealth champion, who had his season cut short last year because of a hamstring injury, clocked 10.01 second last Saturday at the Jamaica International Invitational to win the men’s 100m and he could test Bolt over the short sprint if the World record holder happens to be carrying a few rust from his lack of racing.
Also on the list for the men’s 100m is Cayman Islands’ national record-holder Kemar Hyman, who has a seasonal best of 10.13.
In the women’s event, 2011 world champion Carmelita Jeter will take on countrywoman Jenna Prandini, the fourth fastest woman in the world this season, at 10.97 seconds, and Jamaicans Kerron Stewart and Jura Levy.
Jeter, who has already contested two 400m and two 200m this season, will be competing in her second 100m for the term. The 36-year-old who won in 2012 and 2013, owns the meeting record of 10.95.
Prandini is also set to compete in the 200m as well.
The women’s 400m hurdles will see USA’s Kori Carter taking on three Jamaicans – Ristananna Tracey, Nikita Tracey and Rhonda Whyte.
Also set to make an appearance at the meeting are Britain’s sprinter Zharnel Hughes, who will take on Antigua and Barbuda’s Miguel Francis and Kenyan record-holder Carvin Nkanata in the men’s 200m.
Elsewhere, 2014 World junior champion Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago, Britain’s Delano Williams and Jamaican Jermaine Gonzalez are the leading contenders for the men’s 400m title, while American David Payne, Cayman Islands’ national record holder Ronald Forbes and Tyler Mason of Jamaica will clash in the men’s 110m hurdles.
American Kendra Harrison, the world-leader in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 12.36, leads the entries for that event.
One athlete, however, who will not feature at the meet is American Allyson Felix.
The Olympic 200m champion and Beijing world championships 400m champion was scheduled to compete in one of the two events, but a “minor” ankle injury, which had also ruled her out of the Doha Diamond League meeting last week, has also forced her to miss the Cayman Invitational.