National sprinter Calvin Kang will find himself rubbing shoulders with US sprinter Walter Dix and Olympic silver medallist Francis Obikwelu during his 100m heat at the Beijing Olympics tomorrow morning (10.33am).
The 18-year-old Singapore Sports School graduate was given a wildcard entry to the Games by the Singapore Athletics Association after setting a national junior record of 10.53sec at the Asian Junior Championships in Jakarta in June. He is the youngest Singapore sprinter to compete at the Games ever since Kesavan Soon ran as a 17-year-old at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Dix is a two-time US College 100m champion. The 22-year-old Florida State University undergraduate clocked a wind-assisted 9.80sec behind Tyson Gay (9.68sec) at the US Olympic trials last month.
After winning the 100m silver at the Athens Olypmpics, Portuguese sprinter Obikwelu subsequently went on to score the 100m and 200m double at the 2006 European Championships. The 30-year-old has a personal best time of 9.86sec.
Calvin will be running in Lane 4 tomorrow, next to Dix on Lane Five and Obikwelu on Lane Three.
The other five sprinters in the heat are
* Nigeria’s Metu Obinna (PB: 10.16sec). The 20-year-old won the 100m and 200m during the Dakar leg of the IAAF Grand Prix Series;
* Canada’s Anson Henry (PB: 10.12sec), a semi-finalist at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan;
* Ukrainian Dmytro Glushchenko (PB: 10.25sec) who helped his country to finish seventh in the 4x100m relay at the 2006 European Championships;
* Jesse Tamangrow (PB: 11.47sec) of Palau and
* Michandong Reginaldo (PB: 11.59sec) of Guinea.
Calvin is unlikely to advance into the semi-finals but being in the presence of Dix, Obikelu, Obinna, Henry and Glushchenko could help propel him into a new national junior record. That is his stated goal, anyway. As he said in an interview with The Straits Times before his depature for Beijing: “I see the Olympics as my transition from junior to senior level.”
The teenager also enters tomorrow’s race in decent form. He clocked 10.62sec in his heat at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland last month to become the first Singaporean to qualify for the semi-finals. He clocked 10.75sec subsequently and didn’t qualify for the final.
The Singapore Sports Fan wishes Calvin all the best and hopes he can set a new national junior mark tomorrow.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan