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Bolt, Powell and Lemaitre in 100m battle

ROME, Italy, May 30 – Just as it was last year, the 100m will provide the highlight of the Diamond League meeting at the Stadio Olimpico here on Thursday with Usain Bolt the main draw once again.

And just as was the case last year his main competition will come from compatriot Asafa Powell and European champion Christophe Lemaitre.

It may not be an unusual highlight but that won’t make it any less anticipated or explosive.

Last year Olympic champion Bolt was slow out of the blocks and former world record holder Powell looked set for victory until the leggy legend strode past him to pip him at the post by two hundredths of a second.

It was Bolt’s first outing of the year and he was far from satisfied with it but this time he comes into the race following his slowest 100m in three years.

Bolt ran 10.04sec in Ostrava last week and although he won, like everyone else he was shocked at the time he clocked.

But he says he believes the track in Rome is fast and he’s hoping to see something nearer 9.7sec come up on the scoreboard when he crosses the finish line.

“Like every race I definitely want to win but for me it’s all about execution,” he said.

“The key thing is getting a consistent start, my coach likes me to execute properly so he can review the race and analyse it and figure out what I need to do to go forward.

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“Pretty much execute and win, and a fast time would be great also.

“Last year’s was the first of the season so I was slightly nervous, I just wanted to get out there and run and get the first out of the way.

“At the end it was just a relief to get through the first injury free and feeling good.

“The positive thing is the first race is always good and I won so it was even better.”

Powell will likely be his toughest competition but Lemaitre has proved himself an elite level athlete over the last 12 months, finishing fourth in the 100m final at the World Championships in Daegu and going one better in the 200m.

It won’t just be about the 100m here as there are many other world class performers on show.

The women’s 5,000m promises to be an intense battle with world 5,000m and 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya facing former world record holder Meseret Defar of Ethiopia.

World champion and Athens Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi will be the major draw in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase alongside Kenyan compatriots Brimin Kipruto, the Olympic champion, Paul Koech and Richard Matelong.

The women’s 800m will see world champion Mariya Savinova of Russia take on the women she deposed, South Africa’s Castor Semenya and Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo, the fastest women over the last 29 years.

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In the field events the men’s discus promises to be a battle royale with Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia taking on German world champion Robert Harting.

In the women’s javelin world record holder and Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova of Czech Republic tackles Russian world champion Mariya Abakumova.

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