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Merritt Jeter SAFP Rutherford Kiryu Pearson

29 June 2013

Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford (coach: Dan Pfaff) was today joined by Olympic gold medallists Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Carmelita Jeter, Aries Merritt, Sally Pearson and Japanese sprint sensation Yoshihide Kiryu ahead of tomorrow’s Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham.

Rutherford, who became Britain’s first Olympic long jump gold medallist since Lynn Davies in Tokyo in 1964, is excited to get back out in front of a home track as he lines up against world champion Dwight Phillips, European indoor gold medallist Aleksandr Menkov and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena.

“I’m hugely excited. It’s a great opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd, and Birmingham’s a fantastic place to jump when the weather’s good, and I’m hearing it’s going to be really good weather.

“It’ll be good to compete in a world class field again, and be competitive, and if this pesky knee holds up I can be incredibly competitive, and hopefully go for the win.”

Fraser-Pryce and Jeter will return to the UK once again as they renew their rivalry over 200m, and will face Blessing Okagbare, who has set the second fastest time in the world this year behind Fraser-Pryce.

Jamaican Fraser-Pryce, the winner of the last two Olympic Games over 100m insists that she thrives upon the rivalry with her American counterpart and is ready for her Birmingham return after being based in the city prior to her Olympic triumph.

“Birmingham has been a very good city for us as Jamaicans as they were so welcoming and warm last year. So I’m excited to be back and having fun in the 200m against all the other girls lined up in the event.

“For us as athletes, it’s about competing against the best and Carmelita is one of those. She’s thrown down lots of good times, and racing her is something that has been rewarding for me as well. We bring out the best in each other. I like competing against people that are aggressive and hungry like me.”

Jeter meanwhile has endured an injury-interrupted 2013 is looking forward to getting her race sharpness back in the first IAAF Diamond League in the UK this season, as she prepares to defend her world title in Moscow in August. 

“The goal is Moscow, that’s what the number one target is. Each race I race I have to look at it as Moscow, I can’t get upset or frustrated if anything goes the way I don’t want it too because the goal is August.

“I love to compete, that’s why I do what I do and I’m still in the sport. Coming back to race in such a competitive field will put me back into that mental aspect I need to be in.

“I feel I’m in great shape; John Smith my coach has been training me really hard. Right now I’ve just got to get back to being sharp, so this first race is about putting everything back together again.”

London 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson marked her comeback from injury in to record her fastest ever season’s opener in Ostrava on Thursday, and the Australian is hoping for a strong performance at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham.

“I’m as confident as I can be with the shape that I’m in. I’m in reasonable shape, not the best shape, but I’ve done everything I can at this point in time to run as fast as I can.

“I ran 12.67 two day ago, so we’ll see what happens, but hopefully I can run a bit faster. Two years ago I ran 12.48 here, which was an Australian record at the time, and the crowd was electric.”

American Merritt, who ran the most legal sub-13 second 110m hurdle races in history last season, is ready to continue his impressive record as he sets his sights on adding a world record to the Olympic crown he won in London last summer.

“I’m looking forward to running fast here - I really like coming to the UK.  Now that I’m healthy, I’m hoping to run more sub-13 races, but obviously I need to race myself into shape first and that’s what I’m doing here.

“The number one focus for me is winning gold in Moscow, I don’t care what happens after that,” added the 26 year old, who finished third at the US Trials to qualify for the IAAF World Athletics Championships.

Kiryu, the youngest athlete at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham, shot into the limelight in the Far East after tying the world junior record of 10.01 in April, but is in unfamiliar territory competing abroad for the first time, but the 17 year old is confident of breaking under 10 seconds this weekend.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend – it’s my first time abroad and my first time competing in front of a lot of people, so a little pressure, but I’m really excited.

“I really want to break into the nine seconds, that’s my main goal for the meet.”

Full start lists for the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham are now live and can be viewed here:www.diamondleague-birmingham.com/Live-StartlistsResults/Overview/

Tickets for the Sainsbury’s Summer Series are available at www.britishathletics.org.uk.

The Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham will be shown live on BBC Two from 2pm