Sprinter Joanna Atkins of the USA (© Getty Images)
US sprinter Joanna Atkins finds herself in the unusual position of being in the spotlight at the 30th Grande Premio Brasil Caixa de Atletismo, an IAAF World Challenge meeting which will take place at the Mangueirao Stadium in Belem, Brazil, on Sunday (10).
Atkins, 25 and better known as a 400m runner before this summer, is having a remarkable season and has run 11.02 and 22.27 this campaign; the latter mark currently places her fourth in the 2014 world lists.
She has also clocked a wind-assisted 22.19 in the longer sprint.
Atkins was a member of the USA quartet that won the 4x400m gold medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships and had not run a 100m since 2011 prior to April when she came out and flew to a time of 11.09 at the Florida Relays. She has continued to race the event with some aplomb in the past few months.
Her compatriot Barbara Pierre will be Atkins’ main rival in the 100m.
Pierre, the silver medallist at the 2011 Pan-American Games, comes to Belem with a personal best of 10.85 from 2013 and a season’s best of 11.05. She also finished second at the 2014 US Championships in June, when Atkins finished sixth.
Brazilian athletes, such as Ana Claudia Silva, the 100m South American record holder, and 2011 Pan-American Games champion Rosangela Santos will be their main rivals.
In the women’s 200m, fellow US sprinter Tiffany Townsend probably represents Atkins’ principal adversary.
Townsend is the silver medallist from the 2011 World University Games and has a personal best of 22.26 from 2013, and has also run 22.72 this season.
Silva, who is also the South American record holder at this distance with 22.48, and compatriot Franciela Krasucki, who has run 22.82 this season, represent local interests.
The long jump promises to be a good event as well.
USA’s Tyron Stewart, fifth on the 2014 world lists with 8.39m, rises above the rest of the field, which includes the 2012 and 2014 world indoor champion Mauro Vinícius da Silva.
The 27-year-old da Silva is returning from injury and was only sixth at the recent Ibero-American Championships with a modest effort of 7.56m, and will want to prove himself in front of his home audience.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel, second at the recent Commonwealth Games and eighth in the 2014 world lists, leads the women’s shot put list of participants, which also includes Chile’s Ibero-American champion Natalia Duco, a finalist from the London 2012 Olympics.
The men’s 100m could be quick. Going to their blocks will be US trio Dentarius Locke, Maurice Mitchell and Marvin Bracy, who have all been close to going under 10 seconds this year; Saint Kitts and Nevis’ Antoine Adams, who ran a personal best of 10.01 when winning his national title in June, and Ramon Gittens from Barbados as well as Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, the former world record holder at 100m.
Mitchell and Adams will also take part in the 200m, and the latter can boast of a 20.08 national record also set at his national championships.
Kenya will also have a strong contingent of athletes in the men’s middle and long distance races.
Job Koech Kinyor, winner of the 800m at the 2014 Prefontaine Classic, is the favorite over 800m. Colombia’s Rafith Rodríguez, the in-form 2014 Ibero-American champion with a season’s best of 1:44.77, is Kinyor’s main contender.
John Kipkoech appears to be the favourite at 3000m. Now 22, the 2010 world junior 5000m silver medallist has a 3000m personal best of 7:32.72 and has run 7:38.97 this season.
Leading the group of rivals will be his compatriot David Kiprotich Bett, who has a long-standing rivalry with Kipkoech and was the 2010 world junior champion.
The Belem venue has provided great crowds for what is Brazil’s premier annual athletics meeting, having reached 45,000 spectators in some editions over the past decade.
Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF