The IAAF Diamond League will now head to the ancient city of Rome, which is the fourth leg in the series, and the first on European soil.
The Golden Gala as it is called, will play host to a rich array of stars such as Mariya Lasitskene, Abderrahman Samba and Luvo Manyonga, who are all looking to continue with the fine form in which they started the season with.
Here, we take an in-depth look at some of the events to watch out for on the day.
When Reece Prescod stunned the rest of the field to win the men’s 100m race in Shanghai a few weeks back, it was an indication that we are in for a lot of shocks in the event this season. Few days ago, we witnessed another upset in Eugene when Ronnie Baker handed a defeat to last year’s World Leader (WL), Christian Coleman.
Though the race in Eugene was not a Diamond League (DL) discipline, it surely gave us an inclination as to what to expect in Rome. However, Coleman will be looking to make amends for the loss as he has a chance to pick up points on the road to the final.
The US sprinting prodigy will once again face Baker, and further tough competition from the likes of Ramil Guliyev, Akani Simbine and Michael Rodgers.
With Reece Prescod currently leading the standings, Coleman and co. will be hoping to break into a qualifying position with a big points haul in Rome.
DL leader and World Leader in the 400m, Steven Gardiner will not be present in Rome to add to his points tally. This surely paves the way for Qatari runner, Abdalleleh Haroun, who clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 44.50s in Doha, to claim his first victory in the League.
Haroun will nonetheless have to watch his back as the race also features the World Indoor Champion, Oscar Husillos.
In the women’s 200m, Marie Jose Ta Lou will hope to transcend her dominance in the 100m to the half-lap race when she laces her spikes to run today. The Ivorian has so far won both her 100m races in the DL this season, but came stuck in the 200m in Shanghai when she placed 4th.
Without Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who is the World Leader in the event, Ta Lou will only have Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson to contend with.
It has been all about the Americans in the women’s 100m Hurdles this season, as they have done a 1-2-3 in the event in Doha and Shanghai respectively. In Doha, it was World Record (WR) Holder Kendra Harrison who came out tops, while Olympic Champion Brianna McNeal claimed victory in Shanghai.
With Harrison not included in the start list in Rome, McNeal should be a shoe-in for the win, but she will face competition from the duo of Jasmin Stowers and Sharika Nelvis. Also, Commonwealth Games Champion, Tobi Amusan, who will be making her debut in the league, might cause an upset on the day.
After missing out on the Diamond Trophy last season, World Champion in the 400m Hurdles, Karsten Warholm, will make his first appearance at the Golden Gala.
However, Warholm, who is hoping to replicate the successes of an explosive 2017, faces a tough task in picking up all eight points, with the likes of Yasmani Copello, Olympic Champion Kerron Clement, and Abderrahman Samba, who set a new Diamond League Record (DLR) of 47.90s in Doha, all competing on the day.
In the women’s 3000m Steeple chase, the Diamond Trophy winner in the last two years, Ruth Jebet, will not be in action. This certainly opens the doors for Emma Coburn of USA, and Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng to move one step ahead of the Bahraini star as they hope to wrestle the trophy from her grasp this summer.
For the steeplechasers, Rome will be the first step on the road to the final, and both Coburn and Kiyeng will be looking to pick up maximum points and get their campaigns off to a flying start.
World and Commonwealth Games Champion in the 1500m, Elijah Manangoi will be the favourite heading into Rome. He however, will look to fend off competition from his younger brother George Manangoi, who set a new Personal Best (PB) of 3:35.33 while finishing 2nd in Doha.
Also, Ethiopia’s Taresa Tolosa, who won in Doha, might have something special up his sleeves again.
The men’s 800m race will feature the 2013 World Champion in the event, Mohammed Aman, as the Ethiopian seeks for redemption after falling by the way side in recent years. Also, Polish World Indoor Champion, Adam Kszczot will be one name to watch out for.
Luvo Manyonga will be the man to beat in the men’s Long Jump. The South African opened his DL season when he left it late to win, leaping to a distance of 8.61m to break the DLR in Shanghai.
This time around, the South African will aim to continue his winning streak, but will have Olympic Champion Jeff Henderson, and his compatriot Ruswahl Samaai, to condent with.
Some of the event’s biggest names are set to compete for a share of the spoils in the men’s Discus throw, with Olympic GOLD medallist Robert Harting, and Christoph Harting, lining up against four-time Diamond Trophy winner Piotr Małachowski.
Diamond Trophy holder Andrius Gudzius will also be looking to make a strong start to his title defence, while Sweden’s Daniel Ståhl, who dominated for much of last season, is hoping to go a step further this year and claim the Diamond Trophy.
In the men’s Pole vault, World Champion, Sam Kendricks will hope to extend his winning streak from Eugene, even though it wasn’t a DL event at the meet. Without six-time Diamond trophy winner, Renaud Lavillenie competing, Kendricks’ main obstacle to claiming victory is Rio 2016 Olymic Champion, Thiago Braz.
Having utterly dominated the women’s High Jump in all competitions last summer, Mariya Lasitskene showed that she is as hungry as ever for DL success, leaping to victory in Shanghai and setting the tone for what threatens to be another dominant season.
In Rome, she faces a tough field, with the likes of Vashti Cunningham, Yuliya Levchenko and local hero Alessia Trost, attempting to end her hegemony.