The world’s best Track and Field stars will once again begin their quest to dominate the IAAF Diamond League when the series gets underway on Friday, May 4, in Doha, Qatar, as they would look to get their hands on the Diamond trophy and a share of the US$8 million prize money at stake.
Now that the year’s other big goals, the IAAF World Indoor Championships and Commonwealth Games, have come and gone, 17 World and Olympic Champions would take to the track at the Hamad Bin Suhaim Stadium.
Much like last year, athletes will earn points in the first 12 IAAF Diamond League meetings to qualify for two final meetings where $100,000 will be at stake in each of the 32 Diamond disciplines, including $50,000 for each winner.
One of the highlights of the day would be in the women’s 100m race, where the duo of Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers would re-ignite their rivalry when they lace their spikes on the day. Thompson though has had a bit of a stutter to her season so far as she finished outside of the medals zone in both the World Indoors and the Commonwealth Games this year.
However, Ivorian sprinters – Murielle Ahoure and Marie Jose Ta Lou, would also look to be party poopers as the latter hopes to upgrade her ‘bridesmaid’ tag from 2017 after finishing second in 100m and 200m at the World Championships last season.
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor who stormed to a scorching wind-aided time of 10.72s earlier this year, would actually be the athlete to watch out for when the race gets underway in Doha.
The men’s 200m will pit Turkey’s World Champion Ramil Guliyev against Olympic Silver medallist Andre De Grasse of Canada, 2017 Diamond League Champion Noah Lyles of the USA, and Commonwealth Games Champion Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago. Jamaica’s Olympic Champion in the 110m Hurdles Omar McLeod is also a surprise name on the start list.
Meanwhile, Botswana’s duo of Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe are stand-out names in the men’s 400m after they did a 1-2 finish at the Commonwealth Games. However, Bahamian quarter-miler, Steven Gardner, who broke his country’s 400m record last year, would hope to crash the party for them.
The women’s 100m Hurdles would feature five Americans with World Record (WR) , with World Record Holder Kendra Harrison the star name on the list, with Jamaica’s 2015 World Champion Danielle Williams sandwiched between them.
Also, 2017 Diamond League Champion and Commonwealth Games winner Kyron McMaster should have his work cut out when he squares up against Olympic champion Kerron Clement and London 2017 Silver medallist, Yasmani Copello of Turkey.
Caster Semanya is another headline name that would be racing on the day. The South African who has been so assertive in the women’s 800m over the years, would however open her Diamond League season with the 1500m race. Nevertheless, she would still be the woman to beat as she is arriving off the back of her dominant victories in both the 800m and 1500m at the Commonwealth Games.
World 5000m Champion Hellen Obiri would lead a Kenyan charge in the women’s 3000m race which includes Lilian Rengeruk, the 2013 World Youth Champion and 2014 World Junior 3000m Silver medallist, and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, the fifth-place finisher at the last year’s World Championships. America’s Jenny Simpson, who has been imperious over the years in the 1500m race, could however cause an upset.
The men’s 800m race will feature Kenya’s youngster Emmanuel Korir who set an Indoor Record of 1:44.21 in February as he faces competition from Poland’s Adam Kszczot and 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist Clayton Murphy.
Reigning World Champion and 2017 World Athlete of the Year, Mutaz Essa Barshim is back to his home terrain, a place he picked up his first victory on his way to going undefeated all through last season.
One athlete who might stand in the way of that dominance form continuing in the High Jump this year is Majd Eddin Ghazal of Syria, who is the world Bronze medallist from last summer. Also, German jumper Mateusz Przybylko, would spice things up a little bit.
In the men’s Javelin, German Thrower, Thomas Rohler is back to his favourite hunting ground – a place where he served us all with a 93.90m throw, which was a Diamond League Record (DLR).
Rohler and compatriot Johannes Vetter would jostle it out against each other as London 2017 Bronze medallist, Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic, would also be in the mix of things in order to provide for a thrilling contest.
Another event that brings together two of the world’s best is the men’s Triple Jump. Christian Taylor and Pedro Pablo Pichardo are the only athletes in the line up to have jumped above the 18m mark. Taylor, who is a two-time Olympic Champion, is gunning for his fourth title.
Furthermore, Katerina Stefanidi of Greece would be making her outdoor debut this season in the women’s Pole vault. The World and Olympic Champion will be up against Sandi Morris of the US who beat her to the World Indoors GOLD medal in March.
Also, Croatian thrower Sandra Perkovic would be the favourite in the women’s Discus throw, but Australia’s Dani Stevens and Cuba’s Yaime Perez may have other ideas.