DES MOINES — Adam Nelson’s the defending Drake Relays champion with the shot put.
He’s also a consummate showman — and along with other top-rated athletes will be back at the special invitational event April 26-28, Relays director Brian Brown announced Monday.
“If he doesn’t get himself riled up, he’ll get the other competitors riled up,” Brown said.
Relays Hall of Famer Christian Cantwell also will return to Des Moines, along with other highly-ranked American throwers such as Ryan Whiting, the 2012 world indoor champion.
“I’m proud of the field,” Brown said. “It should be thrilling.”
Brown hopes local favorite Lolo Jones will thrill the Relays’ crowd again, but acknowledged she has yet to confirm her return.
Jones, a former Des Moines Roosevelt standout, won U.S. Open indoor gold Jan. 29 in the 50-meter hurdles at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The 29-year-old who came oh-so-close to Olympic gold in 2008 — she clipped a hurdle in Beijing — is working back into shape after spinal surgery.
“If she won’t be running the Drake Relays, I think that’s something our fans would be disappointed in and I would be, too,” Brown said when asked about Jones’ possible absence. “So far, with her agent, with Lolo, and certainly those close to her, that’s not information that I have received. If it’s been received somewhere else, so be it, but I think along the way, we are all looking forward to seeing Lolo have some redemption. She really was showcased in the last Olympic games, in terms of being so close to medaling and then having something just go so wrong.”
Brown said one of Jones’ most ardent fan bases naturally resides in Des Moines.
“It’s always a good chance for her fans to see her up close and personal,” Brown said. “This is the place to do it. It has been my hope that she would return. There was every indication that she was wanting to return. We just weren’t able to confirm because of health reasons. … Lolo has to do what’s best for Lolo.”
Brown also announced some of the top-ranked competitors expected for the men’s and women’s 400-meter hurdle special invitational races.
World No. 2 Javier Culson of Puerto Rico headlines the men’s list, along with Justin Gaymon, the Relays record holder in the event.
Queen Harrison — the No. 2 ranked U.S. 400 hurdler — stands out among that field’s several top 10 entrants.
“Javier Culson actually sought out the Drake Relays,” Brown said of the 2010 winner. “He could have gone anywhere to run, but he wanted to open up here.”
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