Several top athletes will get their outdoor season underway in preparation for the Olympic Games at the second leg of the Diamond League series in Shanghai, China on Saturday, May 14.

Top on the list is World Silver medallist Justin Gatlin who will headline the men’s 100m, as he kick-starts the defence of his Diamond race trophy.

The 34-year old will be aiming for his first legal sub-10s this season, after clocking 10.02s to win at the IAAF World Challenge in Kawasaki, Japan last weekend.

Asian Record holder Femi Ogunode, who has been in good early season form, will be the top name on Gatlin’s watch-list after the Qatari equaled his Personal Best (PB) of 9.91s, last month to lead the world standings.

Also in for upsets are USA’s duo of Mike Rodgers and Isiah Young with SBs of 10.03s, Jamaica’s Julian Forte (10.06s), and the never ageing Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis (10.09s).

Olympic 800m Champion David Rudisha, will be kicking off his 2016 Diamond League campaign with his first ever appearance at the Shanghai Stadium, nine months after recapturing his world crown in Beijing.

The World Record (WR) holder will hope for a great performance to kick start the season proper, after competing at the IAAF World Challenge in Melbourne where he clocked 1:44.78 on his way to victory.

This time around, the 27-year old will be aiming to smash the Meeting Record (MR) of 1:44.63, which was set by his compatriot, Wilfred Bungei back in September 2008.

He will also hope to threaten the World Lead (WL) of 1:43.37 set by Nicholas Kipkoech at the Kenyan Defence Championships two weeks ago.

To make his debut a memorable one, Rudisha has to overcome four of his countrymen namely Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, Alfred Kipketer, Robert Biwott and Job Kinyor. USA’s Erik Sowinski and Nick Symmonds are also expected to be stiff competitors.

Meanwhile in the women’s 200m, World No. 3 Veronica Campbell-Brown will aim to capitalize on the absence of MR holder, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, as she races against a formidable line-up that includes USA’s Candyce McGrone,  Cote D’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré, and fellow Jamaican Anneisha McLaughlin.

2015 Diamond Race runner-up Shaunae Miller will be the woman to beat in the one-lap sprint. The 22-year-old raced to the top of the world standings, clocking 49.69s on home soil, which is just 0.02s shy of her medal-winning run behind Allyson Felix in Beijing last year.

The Bahamian will be looking to continue her 2016 winning streak as she faces fellow Caribbean teammates Shericka Jackson, Stephanie Ann McPherson, Christine Day and Novlene Williams-Mills, as well as World Indoor Silver medallist Ashley Spencer.

In the sprints hurdles, World Indoor Champion Omar McLeod will spearhead a stacked field and hope to continue his 2016 unbeaten run, as he faces once again, former World Champion David Oliver and Olympic Champion Aries Merritt.

The field also comprises of compatriot Hansle Parchment who was 2nd in Doha, Spaniard Orlando Ortega, Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, USA’s Jason Richardson, and the Chinese duo of Xie Wenjun and Honglin Zhang.

Meanwhile in the one-lap hurdles, all eyes will be on World Champion Nicholas Bett, as he returns to China to begin his 2016 campaign. Bett produced one of the shocks in Beijing last summer, when he won GOLD in a Kenyan Record of 47.79s.

This time around he will be racing against a line-up that includes 2015 Diamond Race winner, Bershawn Jackson; 2012 Silver medallist Micheal Tinsley; 2009 World Champion Kerron Clement; World Bronze medallist Jeffery Gibson; Olympic Bronze medallist Javier Culson and South Africa’s LJ van Zyl.

The Field events won’t be left out of the excitement as WR holder in the Pole Vault Renaud Lavillenie, will be keen to start his 2016 summer season with victory over World Champion Shawn Barber of Canada.

Barber leads the world standings with 5.91m, and should provide the main opposition to the Frenchman, while Konstandinos Filippidis of Greece will also be a threat.

African Games Champion Ihab Abdelrahman, has proven that China is a good hunting ground for him as he makes a return two years after he launched himself into the limelight, following a shock victory at the 2014 Shanghai meeting.

The 27-year-old stunned the crowd with a massive Personal Best (PB) of 89.21m, long enough to take maximum points and announce himself as a major contender for world Javelin honors.

With the Egyptian title already in his kitty this year, the World Silver medallist will be keen to make a winning start to his 2016 Diamond League campaign when he takes on 2013 World Champion Vítězslav Veselý, German Thomas Röhler, and Veselý’s compatriot/world leader Jakub Vadlejch.

Another mouthwatering event to watch out for is the men’s Shot Put, where World Champion Joe Kovacs will face recently crowned World Indoor Champion, Tom Walsh of New Zealand.

Former World Champion and MR holder Christian Cantwell, two-time World Indoor champion Ryan Whiting, two-time Olympic Champion Tomasz Majewski, and Jamaica’s Pan American Games Champion O’Dayne Richards are also in the line-up.

The Long Jump will be one of the Field events to watch out for as World Champion Tianna Bartoletta takes on World Bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic, just six days after winning a sprint-long jump double in Kawasaki.

The duo will be hoping to surpass the Stadium Record of 6.86m, which was set in 2014 by Okagbare, but will also have their hands full against World Indoor Bronze medallist Lorraine Ugen, European Indoor Silver medallist, Sosthene Moguenara and Christabel Nettey of Canada.

Sandra Perkovic will be making a return to the stadium where she threw Croatian records to win both the 2012 and 2014 meetings.

The Olympic champion will be up against Cuba’s Denia Caballero who defeated her at last year’s World Championships.

Perkovic already stands as the world leader with her throw of 70.59m while Caballero’s compatriot, Yaimí Pérez, is 2nd with 68.86m.


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