Felix Sanchez at the 2009 London Grand Prix (© Getty Images)
Two more London 2012 Olympic Games champions have confirmed they will compete at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham at the Alexander Stadium on 30 June, taking the total number of Olympic champions set to appear at the IAAF Diamond league meeting up to eight.
Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez, the Olympic 400m Hurdles champion in 2004 and 2012, and the US 110m Hurdles World record holder Aries Merritt will compete in their specialist events.
The 400m hurdles is already being tipped by Puerto Rico’s 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Javier Culson as the race of the meeting as the top three from London – Sanchez, US silver medallist Michael Tinsley and Culson – line up against Great Britain’s 2011 World champion Dai Greene, who was fourth at the Olympic games, and 2012 European champion Rhys Williams.
“We are going to see another world class field in the UK again for the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham and it’s definitely going to be the event to watch on 30 June. There’s going to be the Olympic one, two and three as well as the World champion, so it makes for a very competitive race,” said Culson.
“Being the defending IAAF Diamond League champion is something that I want to hold on to this season, and I know I will have to be at my very best in Birmingham right through to the final in Brussels.”
Sanchez knows that the Birmingham crowd will play a part with the race.
“I think I surprised quite a few people at the Olympic Games, winning gold in the manner I did. However, I have never doubted my ability, whether that was when I was on my 42-race unbeaten run, or lining up on the start line in London as a 34-year-old,” said the popular Sanchez.
“We will have the top four athletes from the Games in Birmingham, and I’m sure I will be the one they want to beat. I always get a good reception from the British crowd, but as much as they like me, I’m sure they will be hoping for Dai to cross the line first,” he added.
Merritt, who set a stadium record of 12.95 in Birmingham last August, which was just 0.03 off his winning time in London, smashed Dayron Robles’ former World record with a time of 12.80 in the 2012 IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix - Birmingham and testing myself against another world class field. Other hurdlers are running quick times this year so I’m sure we’ll all push each other and put on a great show for the Birmingham crowd,” said the American.
“2012 was a breakthrough year for me but now I need to make sure I stay on top. I would love to add a World title to my Olympic one so this is another big summer for me,” he added.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep