As athletes continue the race to book their spots in the Diamond League (DL ) finals in Zurich and Brussels, fans of Track and Field will be treated to an action-packed weekend, starting with the Monaco Grand Prix on Friday evening.
Here are some of the events to look out for at the Herculis Meeting.
The women’s 100m event has only gone in one direction this season, with Ivorian sprinter Marie Josee Ta Lou breezing past her competitors with so much verve and vigour this season. Ta Lou, who is the World Leader (10.85s) in the event this year, will see her unbeaten streak put to test when she comes up against familiar foes in Monaco again.
Victory is not the only thing at stake in the French city, as some of the athletes look to book their spots in the final, with Monaco being the last chance to pick up points.
With 13 points so far, Dafne Schippers is a whisker away from booking her spot in the 100m final. Murielle Ahouré, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and long-time rival Elaine Thompson are also competing at Herculis.
After claiming the Diamond Trophy in the 200m and 400m last year, things might get trickier for Shaunae Miller-Uibo, with both finals falling in Zurich this year.
While she is on course for the 200m final, things are a bit more critical over the one-lap event, with the Bahamian sitting precariously in 8th place. A win would still put her in contention, but she would have to shrug off competition from in-form Bahrain runner Salwa Eid Naser in order to achieve that goal.
After claiming victories in Doha, Eugene and Lausanne, Noah Lyles should be the favourite in the men’s 200m. The American is the World Leader this year with a 19.69s run, and will look to continue his dominance in the event despite the threat posed by World Champion, Ramil Guliyev.
In the men’s 110m Hurdles, points have been evenly shared between Jamaica’s Olympic Champion Omar McLeod and Sergey Shubenkov. However, Shubenkov will have a chance to make it consecutive wins for himself with the absence of McLeod in Monaco.
France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde who won the event last week at the Athletics World Cup, is also on the line-up, as is Orlando Ortega.
Middle and Long Distance
After skipping the last two 800m races in the DL, Caster Semenya will compete in her signature event on the night. In her absence, Francine Niyonsaba was in imperious form, claiming two victories.
The Burundian would surely be buoyed by those victories, and she would be the bookies favourite to put an end to Semenya’s dominance.
The Kenyans are expected to hold sway in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, but World Champion Emma Coburn, who is sandwiched between them, might have other ideas.
Leading the charge for the Kenyans will be Hyvin Kiyeng who has amassed two wins for herself on the circuit this season. Also, her compatriot Celliphine Chespol who is coming off a fantastic win at the World U-20 Championships in Tampere, is expected to bring her form to Monaco and should provide a stiff competition for Kiyeng.
The DL is expected to see a reprise of last week’s run in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase. Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen became the first athlete in the event to secure his spot in the final as he ran the fastest time of the year in Rabat, while also setting a Personal Best (PB) of 8:06.19 in the process.
Morocco’s World Silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali as well as World, Olympic and Commonwealth Games Champion – Conseslus Kiprupto, are also on the start list. All three are expected to provide a stellar finish to the DL on the night.
The bumper weekend will see the men’s and women’s Shot Put take place in Monaco’s Port Hercule. In the women’s event, Christina Schwanitz will be looking to build on her victory in Rabat as she faces Diamond Trophy holder Lijiao Gong, and current standings leader Raven Saunders.
In the men’s Shot Put, the likes of Ryan Crouser, Darrell Hill and Tom Walsh have already bagged their place in the final, but David Storl and Tomas Stanek will be looking to do so with a strong performance in Monaco.
USA’s Christian Taylor and Cuba’s Pedro Pichardo will take their rivalry to Monaco. Pichardo got his season off to a great start with victory over his perennial rival, World and Olympic Champion Christian Taylor, with an effort of 17.95m in Doha that is still comfortably the best seen this season.
In Lausanne, Taylor beat Pichardo by a single centimeter – 17.62m to 17.61m, and both jumpers are expected to thrill the crowed with their duel.