OSLO (AP) Olympic champion Allyson Felix goes head to head with Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure in the 200 meters at the Bislett Games on Wednesday, while local hopes are pinned on Henrik Ingebrigtsen in the Dream Mile.
Felix, a three-time world champion, hopes to reestablish herself as the dominant force over the 200 after an injury-plagued 2013.
”I’m just trying to keep progressing. It’s been a rocky road back,” said Felix, who has 12 gold medals from the Olympics and worlds. ”It’s going to take some time to get back but I’m going to keep at it. I’m excited for the third race (of 2014) and hopefully it will get better.”
The American will face a stiff challenge from Ahoure, who has made an encouraging start to the year and will have the support of the crowd. She came second in the 100 and 200 at the worlds last year, and spends a good deal of time training in Norway.
”It feels like home. I train at Bislett at least three times a week. This time there’ll be people watching,” Ahoure said. ”It’s just all about going out there and staying focused, putting on a good show for the fans.”
Ingebrigtsen, the European 1,500 champion, can also count on home support in the fifth Diamond League meet of the season as he takes on last year’s winner, Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, in the Dream Mile.
Souleiman has already recorded personal bests over a mile and 1,500 meters this season.
American Matt Centrowitz, who claimed bronze and then silver in the 1,500 in successive worlds, makes his Dream Mile debut. He set a personal best over the mile at Eugene on May 31.
Competition in the 5,000 will be intense, among Ethiopians Yenew Alamirew, Dejen Gebremeskel, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Imane Merga, as well as Kenyans Edwin Soi, Thomas Longosiwa, Gideon Gathimba and world leader Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku.
In the absence of Usain Bolt, who is working his way back from a foot injury, Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson is favored for the 100. The 2008 Olympic silver medalist ran 9.95 in Hengelo last weekend.
Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut also ran 9.95 this year and the lineup includes local favorite Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, former world champion Kim Collins, and British runners Richard Kilty and Adam Gemili.
Locals are hoping Andreas Thorkildsen can return to his best for the javelin, where the former world and Olympic champion faces Egyptian world leader Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed.
Kaliese Spencer is looking for three in a row in the women’s 400 hurdles after winning in Rome and Eugene, and the women’s high jump promises to be another closely contested affair between Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic, Russia’s Olympic champion Anna Chicherova, and Poland’s Justyna Kasprzycka.