SOPOT, Poland – Jamaican sprinting legend Veronica Campbell-Brown will make her first track appearance in 10 months at the World Indoor Championships, just weeks after being cleared of doping.
The two-time Olympic 200m champion has not competed since testing positive for a banned diuretic last May, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled last month that it had upheld the Jamaican's appeal.
“I lost out on the opportunity to compete for most of 2013 and the chance to defend my world (outdoor) 200m title. However, I press on,” said the 31-year-old, who has won seven Olympic medals and is aiming for a third consecutive world indoor sprint title after victories in both 2010 and 2012.
Campbell-Brown is partnered in the women's 60m in the Polish Baltic seaside town of Sopot with teammate and indoor rookie Shelly-Annn Fraser-Pryce, who enjoyed a stellar 2013 season in winning the 100 and 200m at the Moscow worlds and collecting a third gold as part of the Jamaican 4x100m quartet.
“I sometimes go 'How do I top this off?' But it's the same thing, the same amount of focus and determination, and being committed to what it is that I want to do this year,” said Fraser-Pryce, who was named as the IAAF's World Athlete of the Year for 2013, along with compatriot and fellow sprinter Usain Bolt.
“I've never been to a World Indoor Championships before, I've never been to a Commonwealth Games before, so I want to go to both of those and I want to do exceptionally well.
“I'm just looking forward right now to do the 60m (in Sopot) and see where I get with that, I'm looking forward to a personal best.”
Campbell-Brown and Fraser-Pryce head up a powerful Jamaican team that also includes the fifth fastest man of all time in Nesta Carter, reigning 60m silver medallist and an integral part of the Jamaican men's all-conquering 4x100m relay team.
Despite the likes of Bolt, American Justin Gatlin, current middle-distance king Mo Farah of Britain and the injured French pole vault world record holder Renaud Lavillenie missing the championships, there will be some fine athletes on show.
And none less so than Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, who has been on fire this indoor season, setting two new world records.
She scorched to a new best of 3:55.17 in the 1500m in Karlsruhe, Germany, on February 1 and then set 8:16.60 over 3000m in Stockholm five days later. Little more than a week after that, she set a world indoor best for two miles with a storming 9:00.48 run in Birmingham.
Dibaba hails from good stock, sister of three-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba and Olympic silver medallist Ejegayehu Dibaba, and the cousin of former Olympic champion Derartu Tulu.
Genzebe Dibaba has form at world indoors, having claimed 1500m gold in Istanbul two years ago, but this time around will concentrate on the 3000m.
Ethiopia's other reigning world indoor champion, Mohammed Aman, is also on the team, the world 800m champion indoors and outdoors coming in undefeated this year and leading the 2014 world indoor lists with his African record of 1:44.52.
One Kenyan-born athlete due to make another world indoor appearance in his long career is Bernard Lagat of the USA, heading up a strong contingent from Stateside including decathlon/heptathlon icon Ashton Eaton and women's pole vaulter Jennifer Suhr.
Lagat, 39, will be partnered by Farah's training partner Galen Rupp in his bid to defend his indoor 3000m world title and claim a fourth gold medal in the event to put himself one victory ahead of Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie in the all-time annals of the world indoors.
“I want to see if I can do it again,” said Lagat, who claimed the first of his three world indoor titles in 2004 when he raced for his native Kenya.
Lagat said he would rely on producing his trademark late kick “to make sure that I get the gold medal in Poland”. – Sapa-AFP