In what is a race for Athletics global stars to secure their spots in the finals of the IAAF Diamond League (DL) in Zurich and Brussels, the next stop will be in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Here are some of the battles to watch out for at the Stade de la Pontaise.

Sprints

The Ivorian duo of Marie Josee Ta Lou and Murielle Ahouré have both held sway in the women’s 100m this season, with both athletes winning three of the four races that have taken place so far.

They will go head-to-head once again in Lausanne, with their African adversary, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor looking to break their dominance in the DL this season.

For Elaine Thompson, it is a different story. One of the stars of the last few years, the Olympic Champion now faces a fight to pick up enough points to secure a place in the final. Also, Flying Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers, will be looking to get her first victory when she laces her spikes to run.

Still savouring his breathtaking performance at the US Trials last month, America’s Noah Lyles will have to shrug off competition from the duo of Michael Norman and Isiah Young in the men’s 200m if he is to add to his two victories this season.

Norman, who made his DL debut in Paris last week, posted an impressive time of 19.84s, with his fellow University of South Carolina contemporary, Rai Benjamin also breaking the 20s barrier. Both athletes will surely give Lyles a run for his money.

It should be a smooth ride for Salwa Eid Naser in the women’s 400m. The Bahraini athlete is undefeated in her last three races, and is expected to come out unflustered in Lausanne.

Hurdles

Abderrahman Samba is probably the jewel in the crown of global Athletics at the moment. The Qatari athlete has been in scintillating form this season, as he continues to break records with so much style and panache.

The 22-year-old became only the second athlete in the history of the men’s 400m Hurdles to dip below 47s when he clocked a scorching 46.98s to win last time out in Paris.

At this point, it’s safe to say that the other athletes are just playing catch up. However, as with any other sport, a lapse in concentration can change the tide in favour of one’s opponents.

Peradventure that happens, World Champion Karsten Warholm, and Commonwealth Games Champion Kyron McMaster, will be lurking, hoping to capitalize on any slip up by Samba.

The women’s 400m hurdles should play out between Olympic Champion Dalilah Muhammad, Commonwealth Games Champion Janieve Russell, and Shamier Little, all of whom have bettered 54s this season.

Ronald Levy notched up his second successive Meeting de Paris victory last weekend and snuck into top spot in the standings. With so many big names in contention, the points have been shared so thinly in the 110m hurdles that nobody has qualified thus far.

However, all of that could change in Lausanne as many of the big names get set for a face-off. As Levy returns to action, Sergey Shubenkov will be looking to make up for his false start in Paris, with Omar McLeod and Aries Merritt completing a star-studded field.

Middle and Long Distance

Having already booked her place in the 800m Final, Caster Semenya will compete in the 1500m in Lausanne, in the hope that she can make it a double qualification. Back in the 800m, that leaves a big opportunity for Semenya’s rivals to pick up valuable points and follow her into the final.

With Eunice Sum, Francine Niyonsaba, Margaret Wambui and Ajee Wilson all set to start in Lausanne, it could be a thrilling 800m battle.

Meanwhile, the men’s 5000m will witness a rematch of last year’s memorable race between World Champion Muktar Edris and current World leader Selemon Barega.

Field Events

Olympic Champion Katerina Stefanidi, who has held the Diamond Trophy for two glorious years, heads to Lausanne just five points clear of 13th place.

The danger of missing out on the final is still a long way off for the Greek star, but Stefanidi desperately needs to pick up some points if she is to guarantee herself a ticket to Brussels at the end of the season.

In Lausanne, she faces Sandi Morris who has already qualified, as well as USA’s Jenn Suhr, who has a WL of 4.93m.

There certainly will be renewed hostilities between Christian Taylor and Pablo Pedro Pichardo when both of them square up against each other in the men’s Triple Jump. Pichardo already holds the upper hand in their duel after he beat Taylor to victory in Doha.

Olympic Champion Ryan Crouser and World champion Tom Walsh will fight it out in the men’s Shot put. Crouser’s Meeting Record (MR) of 22.39m from 2017 may only last a year, as Walsh has a World Leading throw of 22.67m.

Finally, IAAF Athlete of the Year 2017, Mutaz Essa Barshim will be aiming to break Bohdan Bondarenko’s Stadium Record of 2.41m when he competes in the men’s High Jump.

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There are very few things in life that make me happy, but talking and writing Sports has to be at the top. I honed my broadcasting skills at the University of Lagos Radio Station and have free-lanced for platforms like Top Radio and Superscreen TV amongst others. Deji loves running commentaries on Football matches and Athletics, and is now a Junior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. He hopes to become a Sports Agent in the future.

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