By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eleven Olympic champions feature in Saturday's NYRR Millrose Games including women's pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who will renew her Rio rivalry with U.S. silver medalist Sandi Morris.
Stefanidi and Morris cleared the same height (4.85 metres) in Rio, where the American had one last jump to secure the gold, barely falling short when her left thigh grazed the bar on her final attempt at 4.90.
"It fuels that fire, that competitive nature in all of us, competitions like this, the best against the best, especially where I can jump against Katerina," Morris told Reuters on Friday.
"I would really like to get the world lead, which is currently 4.81, so if I jump 4.82, I'll be totally happy."
Morris was momentarily disappointed when she claimed the silver in Rio, but said she quickly put it in perspective, thrilled to win her medal some nine weeks after fracturing her left wrist.
"I think it just fired me up and it will motivate me for future performances," she said, the next one coming at the 110th Millrose at The Armory, sponsored by New York Road Runners (NYRR).
Matthew Centrowitz, who claimed surprise Olympic 1,500m gold with a superb tactical performance in a slow race, is stepping up in distance for a rare two-mile run.
"I'm kind of looking for new challenges. I'm excited about racing a different distance," said the 27-year-old Centrowitz, who is plotting a move to longer distances in the future.
"The two mile I haven't run since high school, so I'm definitely looking for a PR (personal record)," he said with a grin.
Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta is running the 60 meters as she continues her striking comeback after lean years following her gold at the 2005 worlds.
"I was 19 when I won my first world championship gold, but lost my way after that," the American said. "I felt I had seen the top of the mountain and had made it and grew content.
Bartoletta said she met her husband and changed coaches in 2012 and "it completely revitalized my life, changed the way I live, the way I train and manifested itself on the track."
She said the 60m would give her feedback on her training.
"One of my advantages in the long jump is my speed. The 60 meters is a really good way for me to see what kind of speed I have for my long jump approach.
"It's a very important year, a very important time to back that medal up at the world championships."
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Andrew Both)