World 100 metre champion Fred Kerley threw down the gauntlet again to Olympic title-holder Marcell Jacobs to stage a one-on-one race but expressed doubt Thursday whether his arch-rival would turn up.
One of the headliners at Friday’s opening Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha, Kerley’s mind is fixed on the world championships in Budapest in August which could see a Kerley-Jacobs clash. But the American wants a chance before.
Kerley last month proposed a two-man race against Jacobs, who stunned the world with his Tokyo Olympics triumph but then pulled out after the world championship heats last year, during a social media exchange between the two last month.
“If it happens I will be there. Will he show up? I don’t know,” Kerley told a press conference ahead of Friday’s meeting.
“I will definitely win. If it happens I will win. Will he show up? I don’t know.”
Italy’s Jacobs has not commented publicly on a potential two-man race, but told Kerley on social media: “Whenever you want and wherever you want.”
Kerley, from Texas, would not say if serious contacts have taken place on a one-versus-one race, repeating only “if it happens, it happens”.
‘Six figures’ price
“We have got to have some fun and enjoy what we do, if it happens I will be the best man on the day,” he said.
Kerley has previously indicated that big money would be needed to seal a two-man race deal.
On social media last month, Kerley said: “Talk to the agent if you don’t got six figures plus we ain’t talk.”
Kerley and the 28-year-old Jacobs have not raced against each other since the Tokyo Olympics final in 2021 when the Italian edged Kerley to earn a shock gold medal.
Jacobs was injured for much of 2022. He was beaten into second place in the 60 metres final at the European Indoor Championships in March.
When asked if their first head-to-head race this year would be at the world championships, Kerley said “hopefully sooner”. One possible venue is the Diamond League meeting in Rabat on May 28.
Kerley will race the 200 metres in Doha. He will be one of 15 reigning Olympic and world champions competing in the first of 14 top meetings that make up the Diamond League.
The race will also feature Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse of Canada — who also had an injury-stricken 2022 — and Americans Michael Norman, the world 400m champion, and Olympic and world 200m silver medallist Kenny Bednarek.
In the women’s 100m, reigning world 200m champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica will take on Britain’s former world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith.
Kenya’s two-time Olympic and world 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon headlines the women’s 1500m. She said she was “really excited” to start another world championship year.
Olympic and world champion Katie Moon will take on fellow American Sandi Morris and Australian Nina Kennedy who she beat to the women’s pole vault title in Eugene last year.
Olympic and world champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco will headline the men’s 3000m. Qatari eyes will be on Olympic and world high jump champion Mutaz Essam Barshim.
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