It’s already half way through the Diamond League season, and no fewer than 11 Olympic Champions are expected to light up the arena at the Bauhaus-Galan in Stockholm on Thursday, June 16 .
Prior to the beginning of the 2016 Diamond League season, Ruth Jebet was not a popular name amongst Athletics faithful. But the World Junior Steeplechase Champion erased that thought in Eugene when she raced to the second fastest time ever of 8:59.57, defeating World Champion Hyvin Kiyeng in the process.
With the absence of Kiyeng in Stockholm to push her to another record-breaking form, the Bahrain International might just decide to go for Gulnara Samitova-Galkina’s World Record (WR) of 8:58.81 on her own when she faces another stiff competitor in Olympic Champion, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia.
WR holder in the men’s 800m, David Rudisha is targeting a huge comeback in the Swedish city, after a disappointing Diamond League opener in Shanghai, where he finished 5th in 1:46.24.
Few weeks later in a non-Diamond Race in Birmingham, Rudisha put that disappointment behind, racing to a Meet Record (MR) and Diamond League Record (DLR) of 1:13.10 in the 600m.
This time in Stockholm, the Olympic Champion will be aiming for his first Diamond Race victory against his bitter rivals in Diamond Race leader Ferguson Cheruyiot, 2013 World Champion Mohammed Aman, European Champion Adam Kszczot and Frenchman Pierre Ambroise Bosse.
An event where the MR is set to come under threat is the women’s sprints hurdles, where World Leader and No.2 on the all-time list, Kendra Harrison will be on the track once again.
The American, who is undefeated in the Diamond League this year, will be hoping to stamp her name once again in the third Diamond League city she’ll be competing in this year when she lines up against World Indoor Champion Nia Ali and World Championships Bronze Medallist Alina Talay.
Meanwhile in the men’s 100m, all eyes will be on the Ivorian duo of Hua Wilfried Koffi and Ben Youssef Meite with both having Season’s Bests (SB) of 10.01s and 9.99s respectively, as they prepare for the African Championships in Durban, South Africa.
The African stars will have their hands full when they line-up against Turkey’s Jak Ali Harvey (9.92s), Antigua’s Daniel Bailey (10.09s) and Great Britain’s Richard Kilty (10.14s).
British Record holder in the 200m Dina Asher-Smith, will be hoping to secure her first Diamond Race victory of the year, when she faces a respectable field that comprises of African Games Champion Marie-Josee Ta Lou, USA’s Charonda Williams, teammate Magaret Adeoye and Jamaica’s Simone Facey.
Olympic Triple Jump Champion Christian Taylor, will be making a comeback after two successive victories in Doha and Eugene respectively.
The World Leader will be aiming to extend his lead on the Diamond Standings against his rivals Alexis Copello of Cuba, USA’s trio of Chris Bernard, Omar Craddock and Chris Carter.
African Games Champion Tosin Oke whose name was conspicuously missing in the Nigerian team listed for the African Championships, would also be in action in Stockholm, barring any suggestions that he is not fit for the continental event.
Thomas Rohler has been the most consistent athlete this year at getting close to the 90m mark in the men’s Javelin, after extending his World Lead to 89.30m in Oslo.
The German international will be gunning for another victory against Olympic Champion Keshorn Walcott who has an SB of 86.35m, World Champion Julius Yego (84.68m) and World Championships Silver Medallist Ihab Abdelrahman (87.37m).
Olympic Champion and WR holder Renaud Lavillenie will take on World Champion Shawn Barber in the men’s Pole Vault, while Sandra Perkovic will be aiming for her fourth straight win in the Discus throw against World Champion Denia Caballero.
With an SB of 7.04m, Olympic Champion Britney Reese will be the favourite for a win the women’s Long Jump, with Diamond Leader Ivana Spanovic (6.95m) expected to be her stiffest competitor. Also included in the line-up is World Champion Tianna Bartoletta (6.75m).
Another eye-catching event to watch out for is the women’s High Jump, where seven of the athletes competing have SBs above 1.90m. World Leader Chaunte Lowe, will find it tough going against age-defying Ruth Beitia who won the event in Oslo.
Photo Credit: www.iaaf.org