SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Shelly-Ann Fraser is looking forward to another bout of fierce but friendly competition with Carmelita Jeter this weekend and sees the rivalry between Jamaica and the United States as good for women’s sprinting.
The Olympic and world 100 meters champion takes on Jeter in the second leg of the Diamond League on Sunday at the same Shanghai Stadium where the American clocked 10.64 seconds last year to become the second fastest woman of all time.
“Thanks to Carmelita’s great performances since last year, suddenly the whole world again is paying attention to women’s sprinting,” Fraser told a news conference on Saturday.
“I thank her for making this sport shine. I have also benefited from it.”
Earlier this week, Jeter defeated Fraser’s fellow Jamaican and world indoor sprint champion Veronica Campbell-Brown by 0.05 seconds in Daegu, South Korea.
“Of course the competition between America and Jamaica is severe but it’s definitely friendly. For example, Carmelita Jeter and I are friends,” said Fraser.
“When we get on the track, we will be competing with each other. Every athlete wants to win no matter whether they are in the American or Jamaican team. But we are still friends and there is no hostility between us.”
Despite her breakthrough to the top rank of women’s sprinting over the last year, Jeter said she did not feel any pressure when she got on to the track.
“I really enjoy life and I am always relaxed in the competitions, especially this year,” said the 30-year-old. “I love sport, I love competing and I love running. I will be enjoying the race, be relaxed and do my best.”
Although the major focus at the meeting will be on men’s sprint sensation Usain Bolt’s first appearance in China since his Olympic heroics in Beijing in 2008, other men’s events also boast strong attractions.
Australia’s pole vault world and Olympic champion Steven Hooker told reporters that bettering Sergei Bubka’s world record of 6.14 meters was not just a pipe dream, though he said conditions might not be perfect on Sunday.
“Certainly Bubka’s record is incredible but I have been working with my coach on the strategies to break it,” said Hooker, whose personal best is six meters. “I believe when every condition is right, I will be able to break the record.”
Local interest will be mainly in the 110m meters hurdles, where Liu Xiang continues his recovery from the Achilles injury that ended his Beijing Olympic dream with his first outdoor appearance of the season.
Despite the absence of Cuba’s world record holder Dayron Robles, Liu has strong competitors in his home city with world champion Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados and Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver of the U.S. lining up.
“I’m sorry Liu’s still feeling the injury, I hope he can recover quicker and get back to racing at the top of his form,” said Brathwaite diplomatically.
Editing by Clare Fallon