Sally Pearson and Kim Mickle will square off against top-level competition at the Golden Gala Diamond League meet in Rome.
Sally Pearson will square off against the woman who succeeded her as world champion and the one who poses the biggest threat to her Commonwealth crown when the Queenslander launches her 2014 Diamond League campaign in Rome.
The field for the 100m hurdles at the Golden Gala meet on Thursday night (early Friday AEST) is stacked.
American Brianna Rollins, who relegated Pearson to the silver-medal position at last year’s world titles in Moscow, will be making her Diamond League debut.
Also on the start-line will be 2013 world championships bronze medallist Tiffany Porter from Britain, 2008 Beijing Olympic champ Dawn Harper-Nelson and fellow American Queen Harrison.
Pearson will be looking to improve on her season’s best time of 12.59 seconds, set in Perth in March, on the first step of a European campaign highlighted by the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
“I’m looking forward to Rome as it will be the first test of my training program,” said the reigning Olympic champion.
“I am hoping that my time will be the same or better than what I ran in Perth.
“Training has been fantastic and I think I have probably trained better than I expected.
“I got back into training after the nationals pretty easily and touch wood my run without niggles continues.”
The only other Australian competing in Rome is javelin star Kim Mickle.
The world championships silver medallist tops the 2014 world rankings courtesy of her national record-breaking effort of 66.83m at the Melbourne World Challenge in March.
Much of the attention will be on two-time Olympic javelin champion and world record holder Barbora Spotakova from the Czech Republic, who is returning to top-level competition for the first time since the birth of her son last year.