After witnessing a thrilling opening competition in Doha last weekend, the train now moves to Shanghai on Saturday for what promises to be another scintillating edition in the Diamond League series.
Doha produced a lot of impressive performances with as many as five World Leads (WL) and three new Meet Records (MR), and there is a feeling that Shanghai will raise the bar with many Olympic Champions enlisted to participate.
Having beaten the 200m field last week, Elaine Thompson will this time around shift her attention to the 100m as she aims to open her season in the event in the same dominant fashion as she did in the half lap race.
Although it might be too early in the season to say Thompson could match Carmelita Jeter’s MR of 10.64s, there is a possibility that the 2016 double Olympic GOLD medallist could go under 11s in the race which she is favoured to win.
However, considering how strong the line up is, it also pertinent to note that Olympic Silver medallist Tori Bowie will be a strong threat, having set a WL in the 200m with a time of 22.09s already this year. Bowie will be out to show that she can rival Thompson this season, setting up a big clash to anticipate at the London World Championships.
There are also other strong contenders in that 100m line up. African Record holder Murielle Ahoure will be in action, as well as Long Jump and 100m specialist Tianna Bartoletta, with Veronica Campbell-Brown equally in the mix.
In the men’s 200m, USA’s LaShawn Merritt will further test his mettle on his ability to juggle both the 400m and this event. Merritt, who last year got to the final of the 200m at the Olympics, will run his first race in this event in 2017, coming up against fellow countrymen Wallace Spearmon and Ameer Webb.
Youngsters Aaron Brown, Noah Lyles (making the step up after his exploits at the World U-20 Championships) and Adam Gemili will all be looking forward to impress the fans.
Meanwhile in the men’s 800m, all attention will be focused on World Record (WR) holder David Rudisha who even took to Twitter to announce his participation in Shanghai.
— David Rudisha MBS (@rudishadavid) May 9, 2017
Although Rudisha will be the firm favourite, he will be wary of the threats of his compatriots Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot and Alfred Kipketer, not forgetting European champion Adam Kszczot.
After ‘diving to glory’ in Brazil (no pun intended), Shaunae Miller will be hoping she can add a World title to her haul later this year as she debuts in the 400m this season in Shanghai. Miller will be the favourite to win the race that has the likes of Great Britain’s Anyika Onuora, USA’s Natasha Hastings, and the Jamaican duo of Stephenie McPherson and Novlene Williams-Mills.
There will be no shortage of excitement, but the men’s 110m Hurdles already looks like an event that will keep spectators on their feet. moreso as it will pitch reigning World and Olympic champions against each other.
Making a return to the track after being exonerated from the ban that sidelined all Russian athletes in 2016, Sergey Shubenkov will be making his first competitive appearance since winning GOLD in Beijing in 2015.
However, he will be meeting a formidable opposition in Jamaica’s Omar McLeod who reigned supreme in 2016, which saw him become the first athlete to win an Olympic GOLD for his country in any hurdles event.
Although Shubenkov and McLeod will steal the headlines, Olympic Silver medallist Orlando Ortega and WR holder Aries Merritt, alongside David Oliver are athletes who are capable of winning the race on any given day.
It’s difficult to pick out the particular Jumps event that will produce the best thrills in Shanghai. Fresh from winning the men’s High Jump on home soil for the first time, Mutaz Essa Barshim will be looking to continue from where he left off.
Last week he gesticulated after clearing a height of 2.29m as if to say it was too easy, having noticed Erik Kynard’s effusive celebration after clearing same. The Qatari jumper went on to clinch the win at 2.35m. Now, Barshim who holds the MR of 2.38m won’t have to contend with just Kynard come Saturday.
Reigning World and Olympic Champion Derek Drouin will be in the equation as well, but the locals will be rooting for Guowei Zhang no doubt, not just because he is Chinese, but also for the entertainment and dance poses he comes up with after each jump.
There’s another event that promises to be exciting as well: the men’s Long Jump. Three South Africans will take part, but many people will be watching out for African Record holder Luvo Manyonga who has a new Personal Best (PB) of 8.65m. In fact, he is the only Jumper in the world in 2017 who has twice jumped a distance over 8.60m.
We would also be seeing the men’s Pole Vault, with the trio of Renaud Lavillenie, Sam Kendricks and Thiago Braz expected to continue their rivalry from 2016, with all three men sharing the podium at the 2016 Olympics.
— Renaud LAVILLENIE ® (@airlavillenie) May 10, 2017
In the women’s Discus, Sandra Perkovic who has only lost a handful of competitions in over three years, will be hoping to continue dominating, especially in a stadium where she holds the MR and Diamond League Record (DLR) of 70.88m which she achieved in 2016.