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Athletics: Gatlin, Felix to star in Ostrava with Bolt out

Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix are among the top stars set for Tuesday's Golden Spike athletics meet in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava after Usain Bolt pulled out as he continues to recover from a foot injury.

OSTRAVA: Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix are among the top stars set for Tuesday's Golden Spike athletics meet in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava after Usain Bolt pulled out as he continues to recover from a foot injury.

Gatlin has run the three fastest sprints this year, leading the world 100m tables with 9.87sec from Beijing last month.

In Ostrava, the American will take on compatriot Mike Rodgers, veteran Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, and South Africa's Simon Magakwe, who has a season's best of 9.98.

Gatlin is a replacement for the world's fastest man Bolt, who pulled out of Ostrava and the July 5 Diamond League meet in Paris in a bid to recoup training time after a foot injury.

"If the weather holds up and if there's going to be a good, fair wind, I think we can go out there and do something very special," said Gatlin, who last raced in Ostrava in 2004, over 200m.

Among female sprinters, four-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion Felix will likewise replace out-of-form Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.

Coming back from a hamstring injury that plagued her throughout the 2013 season, the American sprinter will face Jamaica's Aleen Bailey and France's Myriam Soumare over her preferred 200m.

Felix won the 200m sprint at the Diamond League event in Oslo last week in 22.73sec, after clocking a season best of 22.44sec two weeks earlier.

The 110m hurdles event pits France's Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the season's leader with 13.12sec, against the second fastest man of the year, Jamaica's Hansle Parchment.

The Ostrava start list also features American sprinter LaShawn Merritt, who leads this year's 400m rankings with 43.97sec.

His compatriot Ashton Eaton, the Olympic decathlon champion from London, will run 400m hurdles in Ostrava.

Eaton, who is taking a break from decathlon this season, won the 400m hurdles in Oslo in 49.16sec.

In the 3000m steeplechase, Kenya's Augustine Choge will take on the American veteran Bernard Lagat in a clash of the second and third fastest men of the season.

French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie will be looking to extend his winning streak of 10 events and to improve his season best of 5.92m.

In men's high jump, Ukraine's Andriy Protsenko with a season best of 2.35m will be the odds-on favourite after Russia's Ivan Ukhov and Erik Kynard of the United States have pulled out with minor injuries.

The home crowd will watch out for Czech javelin throwers, with two-time Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova coming back from maternity leave and reigning world champion Vitezslav Vesely taking on compatriot Petr Frydrych with a season best of 85.07m.

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