ZURICH — Get ready for “something crazy” in the women’s 200 meters on Thursday in Zurich.
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and silver medalist Dafne Schippers will be in the Diamond League final field alongside former gold medalists Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell-Brown on a balmy Swiss evening.
All four have times among the 15 fastest ever over 200, and have combined to win four Olympic titles and five world championships in the event.
“I know that we’re going to have something crazy happening out there.” Campbell-Brown, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion from Jamaica, said Wednesday. “The track is fast and the curves are big and wide.”
Thompson, the new Jamaica star, starts as the favorite at the Weltklasse meet after winning gold in Rio de Janeiro in a world-leading 21.78 seconds.
Still, she believes the Zurich race has something that was lacking in her Rio triumph.
“To me there was a person missing (in Rio), and that would be Allyson Felix,” Thompson said at a news conference, sitting alongside the record-setting American, who now has six Olympic gold medals from individual and relay events. “(Thursday) will be exciting for me”
Felix did not qualify to defend her 200 title through the United States trials.
“I’m excited about getting back to my favorite event,” she said. “It’s such a stacked field. Usually when you have got such a group of athletes together, you get a very fast time.”
The fastest of the four is Schippers. The Netherlands star sped to third on the all-time 200 list by clocking 21.63 to win the 2015 worlds title in Beijing. Thompson’s 21.66 was good for silver and fifth all-time.
Felix’s lifetime best is 21.69 and Campbell-Brown, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion, has run 21.74.
While top sprinters often avoid racing each other outside of championships, Schippers is eager for the challenge at a track she knows well. The former heptathlete announced herself as a top-tier sprinter when Zurich hosted the 2014 European Championships.
“I love to compete,” Schippers said. “That’s the most fun part of my job and it’s very nice to compete with Elaine, we’re the same age and it’s very cool.”
The 24-year-olds, born two weeks apart in June 1992, have a rivalry that shapes as one of track’s best beyond Usain Bolt’s expected exit from the sport after the 2017 worlds in London. Bolt is not running in Zurich.
Thompson kept her Rio form by running the 100 in 10.78 at the Diamond League meet in nearby Lausanne last week.
“Adrenalin alone will push you to a very fast time,” the veteran Campbell-Brown said, adding that a stellar lineup “lends itself to a great performance.”
Still, the world record of 21.34 — set in the 1988 Olympic final by Florence Griffith Joyner of the U.S. — looks out of reach for some time yet.
The long-standing women’s 800 record will be aimed at Thursday by new Olympic champion Caster Semenya of South Africa.
Meet organizers want a first-lap pace of no more than 55.5 for Semenya, whose personal record is exactly two seconds outside the 1 minute, 53.28 seconds mark set 33 years ago by Jarmila Kratochvilova, then of Czechoslovakia.
Two women who recently set world records are also in action: Kendra Harrison of the U.S. ran 12.20 in the 110 hurdles in London last month and Olympic 3,000 steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet of Bahrain ran 8:52.78 in Paris on Saturday.