5 August 2008
Sprint stars Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell are set for a showdown in Gateshead just a fortnight after the Olympic 100m final.
The pair will meet at the Aviva British Grand Prix on August 31 in what is likely to be a highlight of the first athletics meeting in the UK after the Beijing Olympic Games.
It will be the first time they will have raced against each other in a grand prix meeting this year.
Jamaican Powell is the Commonwealth champion and former world record holder – he equalled his then world record of 9.77 the last time he ran in Gateshead two years ago.
Gay, the current world champion, was due to meet Powell for the first time this season at the recent Aviva London Grand Prix but had to withdraw due to an ongoing hamstring problem.
He said: “It was just too much of a risk for me to run in London and I apologise to the British fans for not running there. But I promise I will make it up to them in Gateshead.”
UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos admitted it was a major coup to get the sprint pair together in the same race.
De Vos said: “We are delighted to be able to bring two of the world's best sprinters to Gateshead and give British athletics fans the clash they have been longing to see.
“For such high profile athletes to commit to returning to the UK so soon after Beijing clearly demonstrates that they love competing here and I know Powell will be looking for a repeat performance of his last trip to Gateshead when he equalled the then world record.”
The Gateshead meeting will also be the first outing post-Beijing for the majority of Britain’s returning track and field stars.
This year's event marks the first major global track meeting in the north east since 2006. The Aviva British Grand Prix will now be held in Gateshead until at least 2010.
Tickets are now available on 08000556056 or online at www.ukathletics.net
Gateshead Council cabinet member for culture Cllr Linda Green said: "We've got some fantastic facilities at the Gateshead International Stadium which I know that the top athletes competing at the Aviva British Grand Prix will take full advantage of.
"I'm also expecting the sport loving people of Gateshead and the North East to take full advantage of the world class competition taking place right on their doorsteps to make this a truly memorable event."
The Aviva British Grand Prix is one of the key sporting events taking place in 2008 as part of NewcastleGateshead’s world-class festivals and events programme. www.NewcastleGateshead.com
Stella Hall, Creative Director of the culture10 programme, based at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Sport, and athletics in particular, is a central part of NewcastleGateshead’s cultural life and so we are delighted the Aviva British Grand Prix is part of our world-class festivals and events programme.
“Attracting such a prestigious event immediately after the Olympics confirms the region’s already excellent reputation for top international sporting events especially in the build up towards 2012.”