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Riley Ready For Challenge..

EUGENE, Oregon:

National sprint hurdler Andrew Riley has gone from one end of the spectrum battling injuries and a poor start, to being involved in one of the hottest clashes of the season.

Today, the Jamaican will face David Oliver and Aries Merritt, two of the sport's hottest names in recent years, along with their American compatriot Aleec Harris, the form man thus far and Frenchman Pascot Lagarde-Martinot.

Riley is, however, relishing the challenge he'll face in the Prefontaine Classics' 110 metres men's showdown at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.

"This is one of the hottest races other than the Drake Relays, but I think this will be the hottest race of the year," Riley said yesterday.

Riley, the Commonwealth Games champion, is on the rebound after injury.

"I feel good, coming off two bad races," he noted of runs in China recently. "At the Jamaica trials (last year) I got cramps in my hips and calves, it was pretty bad. I went over to China and had two bad races, but tomorrow I'm looking to bounce back."

He had been doing a bit of sprinting at the start, as he worked his body back into shape.

"Mostly what I've been doing was trying to condition my body and trying to stay sharp. Over the past couple weeks I'd been running a lot of 200s. In Shanghai, Beijing, there were a couple of guys who run the 100m who were not there .... Gatlin (Justin) wasn't there and he was scheduled to run, so I just said, 'why not take a shot and do some speed work'. That's how I ended up running the 100."

He clocked 10.42, way off his personal-best 10.02, but noted its benefits.

"The body is better. I got cramped real bad, it's the first I ever had such cramps in my bones, hamstrings, hips and calf," he said.

So now, Riley says " I'm feeling better and trying to ensure that I take care of my body and stay healthy for the rest of the season."

- A.B.

Jamaica Gleaner