Defending 100 meter world champion Carmelita Jeter and two-time Olympic medalist Walter Dix will both kick off their 2012 outdoor campaigns in the 200 meters at this weekend’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at UCLA.
Jeter, also the 2011 world silver medalist for 200 meters, will take on a strong field in the half-lap distance that includes former NCAA champion and Olympic long jump bronze medalist Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, 2008 Puerto Rican Olympian Carol Rodriguez and former California prep star Ashton Purvis.
Dix comes off a strong 2011 season in which he finished second in both the 100 and 200 meters at the Daegu World Championships. His primary challenger will be 2007 world gold medalist Leroy Dixon, who in 2011 moved to Los Angeles to train with iconic sprint coach Bobby Kersee.
The women’s 100 meter hurdles will match up some of the event’s veterans with its rising stars.
Two-time world champion Michelle Perry has struggled since her latest global title in 2007 but is attempting to regain her form of prior years. Joanna Hayes, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, is also looking to come back after giving birth to a baby daughter since her last outdoor appearance in 2008. Both ran one indoor race at the USATF Classic in Fayetteville, Ark. Perry was fifth in the 60 meter hurdles race in 8.19 seconds while Hayes was one spot behind in 8.34 seconds.
Yvette Lewis is a rare combination of a hurdler and triple jumper but has steadily progressed in the hurdles despite balancing both events. Lewis set her personal best of 12.76 seconds in 2011 and also claimed the Pan American Games title. California state champion Trinity Wilson will look to mix it up with the pros at Drake Stadium, the future home for the UCLA commit.
The two major Los Angeles sprint groups coached by Bobby Kersee (Bobby Kersee All-Stars) and John Smith (HSI) are both expected to field relay squads against one another. Look for Allyson Felix to compete in the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays for the Kersee camp.