08 July 2011
Dai Greene has called Sunday’s star-studded Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix a “mini Olympics” with the likes of Asafa Powell and Caremelita Jeter part of a world class field.
Greene will be one of the leading British challengers at the Samsung Diamond League event in front of a sell-out 12,700 crowd at the newly refurbished Birmingham Alexander Stadium.
Greene will take on double World champion Bershawn Jackson in the 400m hurdles and will also look to break the great Ed Moses’ stadium record of 48.21secs and Kriss Akabusi’s 21-year stronghold on the British record, which stands at 47.82secs.
He said: “I'm very happy with the result in Lausanne, it’s my first Samsung Diamond League victory. I know the field will be slightly stronger here with Jackson coming over from the USA. But these are the guys I've got to be mixing it up with and aiming to beat if I'm going to be successful in the World Championships. I'm looking forward to racing in front of the home crowd and hopefully that’ll push me on to beat Jackson for the first time this season.
“The pressure’s on him, I guess, if he’s expected to beat me. It only really counts when we get to Daegu but if I can get a few early season victories over him then I’ll be happy. I'm in good form, I did win the last time out and he has travelled over from America where he has had his trials. This will be his first competition after that and it’ll be interesting to see where we’re at on the European circuit.
“It’s sort of a mini Olympics in a way. It’s great having the home fans there and from the moment I've arrived at the stadium, people having been saying good luck and coming up to me. Everyone gets very excited; it’s great when you get the biggest cheer at the start of a race. I guess it can only spur you on to bigger and better things.
“I want to put on a really good performance for the crowd. I'm looking forward to running in front of the new stand. Having seen the stadium on the back straight, it looks pretty impressive and it’ll be fantastic when it’s full and I imagine it will create a lot of noise.
“I like to think I can put in a good challenge of getting it the record. Of course I'm going to need good weather at the weekend, so fingers crossed as it hasn’t been too good all week. But if we have some favourable conditions, then the quality of the field is there, every box is ticked through, so I just need to execute my race on the day. If I get it right I’ll be British record holder, but I just want to win the race first.”
Meanwhile Powell, who set a world-leading time of 9.78secs en route to victory in Lausanne, joins a star-studded 100m line-up featuring an astonishing nine athletes who have run 9.99secs or faster.
And he is no stranger to the UK, having broken the World Record in 2006 with a time of 9.77secs in Gateshead at the Aviva British Grand Prix.
Powell, who will extend his lead at the top of the Samsung Diamond League standings with a win in the 100m on Sunday, believes the Jamaicans are the sprint nation to beat at the moment and insists the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix can provide him with the race experience to beat World and Olympic champion Usain Bolt when they meet in South Korea.
“The season’s going well so far,” said the Olympic and World gold medallist. “It’s always good going to the Championships with a very fast time. At least you know you are in very good shape.
“I'm biased, but the Jamaicans are the people to beat. Michael Frater is running very well and Nesta Carter is in good form. Those guys are definitely running very well.
“Anyone can be beaten. You’ve just got to go out there, run your own race and be the best man on that day. Looking ahead to this race, whenever it’s outside in the UK I think cold, but hopefully it won’t be too cold. Whatever it is I’ll be ready for it.”
Powell will be joined in the West Midlands by another sprint sensation from abroad, two-time World Championship bronze medallist Jeter in the 200m.
The American has six victories in Britain over the last two years to her name and will hope for a seventh when she faces Marshevet Myers, who will contest the 100m for the USA at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu next month.
She said: “I believe the 200m will definitely help my 100m, that’s the way I'm looking at it when I line up. I look at it helping the race I truly love, that’s why I run it. For my strength. And I'm actually starting to like it. I have to still get my rhythm a little bit and I still don’t know exactly where to go and slow. So once I get my rhythm a bit more, I'm sure I’ll enjoy it a bit more.
“It’s never easy when you line up, but everyone lines up in to win. No-one ever lines up to lose. When you line-up the field is always going to be difficult and you just have to go out there and execute your race.
“I'm really excited to do much better at the Worlds. I'm actually just going out there to run and execute my race and put no extra pressure on myself. I want to enjoy myself and when I do that, I run well. I don’t want to get too frustrated as that doesn’t help me.
“I’ve been to Birmingham before when I ran the indoors. I know the Bullring and the whole area pretty well. I'm definitely in tune with being in Birmingham; it’s like LA on a cold day sometimes. I'm definitely going to enjoy being here in 2012, what with it being English speaking and the food being pretty much the same. That’s the way I like it.”
***** Sunday's Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix will be the first Aviva Series fixture broadcast in HD - tune into BBC 2/HD on Sunday at 17:30 - 20:00****
For more information on this event or any other Aviva Series event this summer go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056.