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Bolt back on track for Stockholm

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, July 29 – The world’s fastest man Usain Bolt is back in action at the Diamond League meeting on Friday and hoping to erase bad memories of last year.

Twelve months ago, the Jamaican, who is the reigning world and Olympic champion as well as world record holder at 100m and 200m, suffered a shock defeat in the 100m at the hands of the American Tyson Gay.

However, he has been lured back to the Swedish capital for the 11th stop on the Diamond League circuit — his appearance fee is two million kronor ($310,000) according to local media — and will feature this time in the 200m, which he considers his better distance.

“I will be back — and I will not lose,” said Bolt, who is gearing up not just for next month’s world championships in Daegu, South Korea but for next year’s London Olympics.

His biggest competition on Friday is likely to come from Panama’s Alonso Edward, who collected silver behind Bolt at the 2009 world championships, and Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, both of whom have run under 20secs.

While some may shudder at the amount of appearance money being paid out to Bolt, the Swedish organisers rate it as good value.

“He was worth it last year, and I think he’ll be worth it this year too,” said competition director Rajne Soderberg. “That’s what I hope, at least.”

The second fastest sprinter in women’s history Carmelita Jeter admits that she has her eyes firmly set on winning herself a 1-carat diamond, valued at $10,000 which the organisers award to anyone who breaks a stadium record.

“I would love to get a diamond,” said the American who will run the 100m. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

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The stadium 100m record currently belongs to Irina Privalova who ran 10.90 in 1994, a time that is well within Jeter’s best of 10.64.

She will be up against Jamaican Kerron Stewart, the world’s seventh fastest woman with 10.75 and a season best of 10.87, as well as the evergreen 35-year-old Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie of the Bahamas.

Yelena Isinbayeva will continue her comeback in the pole vault after a lengthy self-imposed 11-month lay-off.

The Russian, who won in Belgium last week with a height of 4.60m, still a long way short of her world record of 5.06m, will be hoping that a wrist injury suffered last week will not affect her progress towards the world championships.

Another woman on the comeback trail is the women’s 800m world champion Caster Semenya. The 20 year-old South African won in Paris, finished second in Eugene and third in Oslo, her 1:58.61 season’s best coming in the Norwegian capital.

A field that boasts 10 runners who have clocked under 1:59.00 this season, including season leader Morocco’s Halima Hachlaf, should give her a decent test.

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