Spanish athletics fans will have one clash to look forward to this summer as two of their leading track athletes have plans to go head-to-head over a neutral distance with more details to be announced at a later date.
European indoor 400m silver medallist Oscar Husillos and world 800m finalist Adrian Ben have both agreed to tie up their spikes to see who will prevail over the rarely contested distance of 500m in a contest which has been dubbed the Challenge 500.
"Due to the lack of competitions on the horizon, Oscar Husillos and I have decided to face each other in the Challenge 500,” said Ben, who also won a bronze medal in the 1500m at the European U20 Championships in 2017.
"Making sure to fulfil and respect all the criteria of health, we will seek to bring a vibrant race in which we can once again enjoy athletics from a new perspective. Little by little we will reveal more details of the event,” he added.
At this stage it is not yet known if Ben and Husillos will go head-to-head in the same race or if it will be held in time trial format but it will nonetheless be an intriguing clash between the reigning Spanish 400m champion and the world 800m sixth-placer.
The concept was initiated by Ben who came up with the idea while training at home on his exercise bike. “I thought, 'everything is stationary at the competition level and I want people to know that athletics has not fallen asleep,’” he said. “I wrote to Oscar and he accepted it."
The fastest ever 500m was set by Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion David Rudisha who prevailed on the roads on a slightly downhill course at the Great North City Games in 2016 in 57.69 ahead of fellow 800m specialist Mark England from Ireland in 57.91.
The fastest ever times set by Europeans on the track over 500m are 1:00.08 by Italy’s 800m specialist Donato Sabia in 1984 and 1:00.35 by Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak in 2013.
The Spanish 500m best is currently held by Husillos’ relay teammate Samuel Garcia with 1:01.40.