Sale Harriers sprinter takes on Olympic Champion in 2011 Great City Games

By Steven Oldham

Top athletics stars are descending on the city centre on Sunday as part of a bumper weekend for sport in Manchester for the 2011 Great City Games, with a Mancunian sprinter taking on Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu.

American star Tyson Gay will join a raft of world class British athletes including Jessica Ennis, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis in a series of sprints and hurdle races.

Manchester hopes rest with Newton Heath’s Shaunna Thompson who’s competing against Ohuruogu, Allyson Felix and France’s Myriam Soumare in a strong field in the 200M.  She won the Commonwealth Youth gold medals at both 100M and 200M in India in 2008.

Thompson has just returned from warm weather training in Spain in preparations for the summer competitions, and is injury free after suffering over the past couple of years with knee and inflamed pelvis problems.

The 19-year-old said: “I’m in this competition because I’ve got a chance.  I’ve not let anyone down in the past when I’ve stepped up so I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Shaunna added: “I’m happy at any sprint speed.  With me returning from injury a racing at a range of speeds will help build myself back up.”

Shauna trains at Sale Harriers and is considered a good prospect for the 2012 Olympics.

Beijing 2008 Olympic 400M champion Ohuruogu will renew her long standing rivalry with Felix in the same race.

The pair have competed many times over the past few seasons and Allyson is looking forward to racing so close to the fans.

She said: “I love this concept of street athletics where the spectators are virtually rubbing shoulders with you and make it so exciting.”

In the men’s competitions, the highlight is set to be multiple world champion Tyson Gay’s appearance in the 150M.

Tyson will be taking on British pair Christian Malcom and Marlon Devonish along with Portugal’s European 60m Champion Francis Obikwelu.

Gay set a world best time of 19.41 over 200m on a straight track at this event last year, and it is down to the four competitors in this event in 2011 to beat this. These include Britain’s Rikki Fifton and track veteran Kim Collins of St Kitts & Nevis, who came out of retirement in January.

Tyson said: “I’m just looking forward to coming back to Manchester and I want to perform as well as I did last year.”

Deansgate and the surrounding streets will be closed off on Sunday for the third annual instalment of the Games with events kicking off just after 2pm.

The giant screen in Spinningfields will be showing all the action. If you can’t make it BBC Two will be showing live coverage between 3.30 and 5pm.  All events are free to watch.  

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