Toni Minichiello, coach of Olympic heptathlon gold medal candidate Jessica Ennis, is delighted she will face world class opposition next month in her first major outdoor competition of the year, the Powerade Great CityGames, Manchester.
Competing in one of her strongest events - the 100 metres hurdles - Ennis will face reigning Olympic champion Dawn Harper of the United States at the unique format street athletics meeting on Sunday 20 May.
Minichiello, determined to ensure Ennis gets the best possible competitive build up before the summer's London Olympics gets underway, sees her appearance in Manchester as a positive first step in her schedule.
"It's very rare she gets the chance to compete against the world's best individual performers in any event rather than just fellow heptathletes, so this is a great opportunity," said Minichiello.
"It will be a daunting task taking on an Olympic gold medallist and other top hurdlers and I'm sure such a high profile head-to-head, in her first big race of the summer, will bring out the very best in her.
"The competition couldn't come at a better time, just a week before she returns to defend her Gotzis title in Austria where almost every world class heptathlete is scheduled to be in the line-up.
"Jess’s training is going well and last Saturday at a meeting in Cosford she produced her best ever start to any previous season when throwing the javelin 45.66 metres.
"Jess is now determined to perform well in Manchester. It will be tough a race but she needs to take on the very best opposition in the world in her Olympic build up, so this is a welcome test for her.
Minichiello added: "She's faced World silver medallist Danielle Carruthers and the likes of Tiffany Porter before. But this will be her first ever clash with Harper. It's a tough call at this level but that's the nature of the beast."
Ennis's fellow British international Gemma Bennett is also taking part in the BBC televised race with another overseas athlete yet to be added to the field. Now in its third year, the Powerade Great CityGames will once again bring world class athletics to the streets of Manchester, in a thrilling head-to-head contest.
Taking place on a purpose built track in the city’s Deansgate, this event is a unique opportunity to see top athletes compete in the heart of the city centre - and best of all, it’s completely free to spectate.
Part of a Great weekend of sport in Manchester - which includes the Bupa Great Manchester Run and the Bupa Mini and Junior Great Manchester Run - the Powerade Great CityGames is your last chance to see medal hopefuls compete in the city before this Summer’s Olympic Games in London.
Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure for Manchester City Council, said: "In this Olympic year, Manchester has shown through the legacy of the Commonwealth Games a decade ago can make a real difference to people's lives.
"The Great City Games is an event which promotes Manchester across the world and another great addition to Manchester's 2012 events programme, ensuring that the city is alive with sport ahead of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Along with the Great Manchester Run and the new Great Manchester Cycle, this event shows our commitment to increasing the opportunities to take part in activity in the city.
"Indeed, this event will see promising young Manchester athletes share the same track as the elite athletes, with heats and the Schools Sprint Final both taking place on it.
"As the Olympics year puts the focus on legacy, Manchester continues to show how the legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games is making a real difference to people's lives."