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Justin Gatlin © Gallo Images

US to face world-class foes at Penn Relays

American track stars will face world-class rivals from more than 20 nations on Saturday in "USA Versus the World" at the 118th Penn Relays as Olympic races loom in just four months.

Men's and women's 4x100m and 4x400 races, a men's distance medley and a women's sprint medley are in the lineup for the 13th edition of the American showdown features against worldwide talent at Franklin Field in Pennsylvania.

Eight of the 12 nations that have won the 4x100 or 4x400 at the event in Olympic years have gone on to collect Olympic gold later that year, including the US men in both relays in 2000, the US men and women 4x400 in 2004 and Jamaica's women's 4x100 in 2004 and Jamaica's men's 4x100 and the US women and men 4x400 relays in 2008.

So while Jamaican sprint stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake will not attend, the meet could provide a peek at what might be coming to London in August.

The US men's 100 squad includes 2004 Athens Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin, the world 60m indoor champion who served a four-year doping ban.

Last year's world 100 and 200 runner-up, Walter Dix, is also in the US mix.

Jamaica, the reigning world and Olympic 4x100 champions, will feature Nesta Carter from the championship lineup in a foursome that lacks Bolt, Blake or Asafa Powell.

Reigning Olympic 400m champion Lashawn Merritt, who served a 21-month doping ban after winning the world 400 crown in 2009, anchored the US 4x400 relay victory at last year's world championships in South Korea.

Veteran Angelo Taylor, a two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion, will join Merritt in the fight to bring the US men a seventh 4x400 win in a row at the Penn Relays.

Reigning world champion Kirani James of Grenada and countryman Rondell Bartholomew, sixth at last year's worlds in the 400, will try to lift their foursome into contention.

Also testing the Americans will be a Jamaican 4x400 lineup that includes Jermaine Gonzales and Allodin Forthergill. The Bahamas and Kenya also figure in the men's relay podium picture.

Bernard Lagat, who won his third 3 000m indoor world title last month, is joined on the US men's distance medley by Khadevis Robinson, Nick Symmonds and Leo Manzano among others as they try to defeat defending champion Morocco.

On the women's side, Americans Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross and Carmelita Jeter are all looking for multiple gold medals in London.

Richards-Ross, who won a 400 world indoor crown, and Felix, a two-time Olympic 200m runner-up and three-time world 200m champion, are each pondering a 200-400 double at London. Felix is looking at the 100 as well.

The 4x400 world champion lineup of Felix, Richards-Ross, Jessica Beard and Francena McCorory will reunite for the Penn Relays.

Jeter, the reigning 100m world champion who was second in the 200 at worlds, will join Felix, Richards-Ross and Bianca Knight in the 100m US relay pool.

Jamaica will feature three of the four women that were second at worlds to the US relay – reigning Olympic women's 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson.

Shericka Williams and Novlene Williams-Mills, both from Jamaica's world outdoor runner-up squad, are also in the event for Jamaica.

Britain will also feature the four women who took the 4x400 relay world indoor crown, including former American Shana Cox.

Other nations who will have athletes in the events include Australia, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Virgin Islands, Guyana, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Trinidad and Tobago.


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