The IAAF Diamond League always kick-starts an action packed outdoor season, with the Qatari city of Doha always being the first point of call.
This year won’t be an exception as several World and Olympic Champions are set to headline the meet, which takes off on Friday, May 6.
Year 2015 was known as the year of the jumps solely due to the outstanding performance of two Triple Jumpers: Christian Taylor of USA and Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo.
The rivalry, which was ignited at the Doha Diamond League, saw both jumpers go over the 18m mark, making history in the process.
The American would later go on to have a sensational season, securing his fourth Diamond Race trophy and notch a second world title in Beijing, where he leapt to an astonishing 18.21m to secure the No. 2 spot on all-time list.
This time around, the Olympic Champion will be arriving Doha as the world leader after opening his campaign with a 17.11m leap in Nassau, Bahamas on April 16.
He won’t be having Pichardo to deal with, but will have other strong competitors such as 2013 World Champion Teddy Tamgho, reigning World Indoors Champion, Bin Dong, Alexis Copello of Cuba and Tosin Oke of Nigeria.
In the women’s 100m, the spotlight will fall on 2015 European Female Athlete of the year, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.
The flying Dutchwoman will be making her 2016 debut in the 100m in her first appearance in Doha. She already has the World Indoors Silver medal to her name, and is currently the World Leader in the 200m, having clocked 22.25s last month.
She will be up against World 100m Bronze medallist Tori Bowie of USA , 2013 double World Championships Silver medallist Murielle Ahouré, and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica amongst others.
The home crowd’s focus in the men’s 200m will surely be on favourite Femi Ogunode, who currently sits top of the 2016 world rankings in the 100m, after equaling his own Asian record of 9.91s in Gainesville, Florida.
The 24-year-old will hope to capitalize on this momentum as he faces back-to-back Diamond Race winner (2014 and 2015) in this event, Panama’s Alonso Edward.
Also on the stacked list is rising star Ameer Webb who clocked a legal sub-20s time of 19.91s at the Mt Sac Relays, 2014 Doha winner Nickel Ashmeade who recently set a Season’s Best (SB) of 20.07s, and MR holder Walter Dix.
Another mouthwatering event to watch out for is the men’s 400m. Two-time World Champion LaShawn Merritt has already predicted a fast 400m this season and will aim to surpass his own MR of 44.19s set in 2014.
This year he has already recorded a PB of 19.78s in the 200m, which currently stands as the WL. He then followed it up with his fastest ever 400m season opener of 44.22s at the Drake Relays to finish behind Olympic Champion, Kirani James who set a WL of 44.08s.
Former African Record holder, Isaac Makwala will be making his Doha Debut. Olympic Silver medallist Luguelin Santos, Trinidad and Tobago’s Machel Cedenio and homeboy Abdalelah Haroun, are expected to be Merritt’s stiff competitors.
Jamaica’s Omar McLeod, is already enjoying his season so far as he became the World Indoor Champion, clocked a PB of 9.99s in the 100m (the first sprint hurdler in history to do so), and defied rainy conditions at the Drake Relays to set a WL of 13.04s, the second fastest time of his career.
The 22-year hold will be up against Olympic Champion/World Record (WR) holder Aries Merritt, 2013 World Champion David Oliver and compatriot Hansle Parchment amongst others.
Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya was the surprise winner in the women’s 400m Hurdles at the 2014 edition of the meeting. The reigning World Indoors 400m Champion will be hoping to clinch another upset as she races against World Champion/2015 Diamond Race winner Zuzana Hejnova.
Also included in the stacked race are: World Bronze medallist Cassandra Tate of the US, Jamaica’s Olympic and World Championships finalist Kaliese Spencer and Dane Sara Petersen who was 4th at last year’s World Championships.
The middle/long distance events are not left out as Kenya’s 1500m runner and reigning World Champion, Asbel Kiprop will be in action on the night.
The women’s 800m is expected to provide some excitement as two of the best in the field, South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Kenya’s Eunice Sum square up against each other.
Sum, with a career best of 1:56.99 set last season, will be gunning for a fourth straight Diamond Race Trophy.
Semenya appears to be in the form of her life after producing a notable triple (400m, 800m and 1500m) at the South African Championships last month, and is the current World Leader with a time of 1:58.45.
Another anticipated clash on the night will be between World 5000m Champion, Almaz Ayana and World 10,000m Champion Vivian Cheruiyot, as the pair goes head to head in the women’s 3000m.
Meanwhile in the men’s High Jump, local hero Mutaz Barshim will be aiming for his first Doha Diamond League victory, with his 2nd place finish in 2013 being his best showing at home.
He’ll be competing in an elite field that includes World Champion and Olympic Bronze medallist, Canada’s Derek Drouin; China’s Zhang Guowei, who was joint 2nd last summer in Beijing; Erik Kynard, the Olympic Silver medallist from the US.