Despite the weather, Gateshead Diamond League did have its bright spots. Dina Asher-Smith’s win over Sha’Carri Richardson provided the first chapter to what looks like a compelling battle for the fastest woman on planet earth. Mohamed Katir upset the odds to add himself to the 5,000m medal mix come Tokyo and Jakob Ingebrigtsen proved himself the man for all conditions. Doha offers more of the same but promises fast times, long throws and mighty leaps. The Diamond league is up and running and let’s take a look at it’s next instalment.
All times/distances in brackets are PB performances unless otherwise stated.
Pole Vault (Women) – 17.58 PM
A stacked Pole Vault field opens the evening’s competition. In Katerina Stefanidi (4.91m) and Sandi Morris (5.00m) you’ve got the reigning Olympic gold and silver medallists. Anzhelika Sidorova (4.95m) won the World Champs on her last visit to the Khalifa International Stadium and Katie Nageotte enters the campaign having jumped 4.92m last summer. Holly Bradshaw (4.81m) will hope to add herself to the mix and get over the disappointment of her European Indoors Champs bronze.
Discuss (Women) – 18.18 PM
Sandra Perkovic (71.41m) may have thrown the furthest, be a two time Olympic and two time World Champion but it is Yaime Perez (69.39) who enters with the fondest memories of Doha. The reigning World Champ not only threw her second furthest distance in the Qatari capital but has also thrown further than Perkovic this year. They will be challenged by 26 year old American Valarie Allman (70.15) who broke seventy metres for the first time last summer and World silver medallist Denia Cabellero who won her silver in the same stadium.
Triple Jump (Women) – 18.38 PM
Three of Doha’s entrants are members of the all time top 10 list. Yulimar Rojas (15.43) occupies number two spot and came within seven centimetres of Ukrainian’s Inessa Kravets now 26 year old world record. With the right conditions could it be under threat? The Colombian will have to see off reigning Olympic champion Caterine Ibarguen (15.31), though she is now 37, didn’t jump in 2020 and hasn’t broken 15 metres since 2016. Like her, Olga Rypakova (15.25) may be the 2012 champ but a more serious challenge looks likely to come from Keturah Orji (14.92) and Shanieka Ricketts (14.93), the later who comes into Doha with a win in Gateshead under her belt. The former jumped poorly by her standards in Gateshead’s poor weather.Embed from Getty Images
400m Hurdles (Men) – 19.03 PM
Karsten Warholm may be missing but there’s still some tantalising match ups over the hurdles. In Rai Benjamin (46.98) you have the World Champs silver medalist and one who has opened the seasons strongly running 47.13 in Mt Sac to set the world lead for 2021. He will be up against bronze medalist Abderrahman Samba, the Saudi Arabian born athlete who now represents Qatar. Commonwealth Games winner Kyron McMaster set his personal best of 47.50 this year, as did twenty-year-old Brazilian Alison Dos Santos (47.68). Thomas Barr (47.97) and Yasmani Copello (47.81) are the two other athletes who have run under 48 seconds.
High Jump (Men) – 19.05 PM
The men’s diamond league campaign gets under way with a home crowd expecting to have something to cheer about. Two-time World Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim (2.43m) would seem on paper a cut above but will be keen to build momentum ahead of the Olympics, a competition where gold has so far eluded him (he won bronze in London and silver in Rio). Ukrainian Andriy Protshenko (2.40m) has jumped the second highest but not since 2014, much like the Bahamian Donald Thomas (world champion in Osaka in 2007, 2.37 PB).
Canadian Derek Drouin is an enigma but is still the reigning Olympic Champion. He hasn’t jumped since 2019 but is a 2.40m jumper at his very best and is still only 31. Instead stronger opposition looks to be in the form of Ilya Ivanyuk, the Bronze medalist from Doha who has set a lifetime best of 2.37m this year and Maksim Nedasekau who jumped 2.37m indoors to win the European Indoors this March. Brandon Starc (2.36m), the Australian, remains as competitive as ever.Embed from Getty Images
800m (Women) – 19.14 PM
Keely Hodgkinson (1.58.19) faces the toughest challenge of her fledgling career but it is one she goes into with confidence. The Euro Indoors champ travels to Qatar having won convincingly in esteemed company in Ostrava. The Three fastest PBs all came from one race with Natoya Goule (1.56.15), Rababe Arafi (1.57.47) and Habitam Alemu (1.56.71) all trying to chase down Caster Semenya in Monaco in 2018. The Jamaican Goule won last weekend in Boston over 600m, with Arafi a distant second in Gateshead last weekend over 1,500. Alemu hasn’t again got close to those dizzying heights.
The battle is likely to come from Faith Kipyegon, the Olympic and World Champion (2017) over 1500m. Her 1.57.68 best over the distance came just last September in the same stadium.
Henna Hynne (1.58.10) provides the European challenge, though she was well beaten in Ostrava and Hanna Green (1.58.19) provides some US interest.
1500m (Men) – 19.28 PM
Doha sees the return of Timothy Cheruiyot, the metric mile’s undoubted stud over the last three years. What sort of shape he is in will be fascinating given Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s imperious win in the Gateshead rain. The Kenyan will be challenged by Stewart McSweyn (3.30.51) with the some interesting additions. Soufiane El Bakkali steps down from the Steeple (3.33.45) and Bethwell Birgen (3.30.77) and Samuel Tefera (3.31.39) make their season openers outdoors.
Adam Ali Musab provides home interest (3.32.41) with the Ronald Musagala (3.30.58) having ran well in the Ugandan trials (3.36.53 to win).Embed from Getty Images
200m (Men) – 19.42 PM
Kenny Bednarek’s (19.80) dominance in Gateshead makes him hard to look past even in a very competitive field. Aaron Brown (19.95), Andre de Grasse (19.80) and Adam Gemili (19.97) were all well beaten last time out. Justin Gatlin’s (19.57) presence provides an interesting match up but I expect this to be a race against the clock for Kenny Bednarek. Ramil Guliyev (19.76) deserves mention even if he hasn’t reached the same heights of his 2017 world crown.
Shot Put (Men) – 19.50 PM
Armin Sinancevic will aim to bounce back from the disappointment of failing to record a mark in the World Champs final at this very stadium but has thrown 21.88m this year. Tomas Walsh (22.90) looks the man to beat but will be challenged by Konrad Bukowiecki (22.25), Tomas Stanek (22.01), fresh of the back of his Euro Indoors win and Filip Mihaljevic (21.84) amongst others.
3000m Steeplechase (Women) – 19.53 PM
If Beatrice Chepkoech (8.44.32) is anywhere near her best it would be a tall challenge for any of the field to think they had a chance but that’s not to say it isn’t a stacked field. How close Emma Coburn (9.02.35) is to providing that opposition come Tokyo may well be revealed in Doha.
2015 World Champ Hyvin Kiyeng (9.00.01) looked good in winning in Berlin last year. A third Kenyan, Norah Jeruto (8.59.62) is the second fastest on paper but has raced sparingly outside Kazakhstan this year, none of those particularly eye-opening performances. Gesa Krause (9.03.30) will have fond memories of a stadium where she won World Bronze in 2019.Embed from Getty Images
800m (Men) – 20.14 PM
One of the most intriguing match ups of the evening comes in the form of training partners Daniel Rowden (1.44.09) versus Jamie Webb (1.44.52). The former was one of the world’s best over the distance in 2020 and has not raced so far in 2021.
The Kenyan contingent of Wycliffe Kinyamal (1.43.12) and Ferguson Cheruiyot (1.42.54) are two of the quickest on paper though neither have given any indication of that form so far this year. Cornelius Tuwei is one to watch, having run 1.44.63 to win the Kenyan Defence Force Champs earlier this month. Amel Tuka (1.42.51) is the quickest in the field but seems a long way from his 2015 best.
400m (Men) – 20.26 PM
Here’s your event of the evening. Fred Kerley (43.64) versus Michael Norman (43.45), the former having already impressed this year by beating Gatlin and De Grasse over 100m. Throw in Kirani James (43.74) and Vernon Norwood (44.40) and it starts to get silly. With Wayde Van Niekirk struggling, having hobbled over the finish line in Boston, this could be a dress rehearsal for Tokyo.Embed from Getty Images
100m (Women) – 20.38 PM
Sha’Carri Richardson (10.70) and Dina Asher-Smith are missing from Doha and in their absence Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce (10.70) will aim to put a marker down to the rest of the field. Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.85) will have something to say about that, as will the American Kiara Parker (10.97) and Blessing Okabare (10.79). Euro Indoor Champ Alja Del Ponte (11.08) will hope for a return to form from a disappointing 8th place in Gateshead.
3000m (Women)- 20.48 PM
The final event of the evening is reminiscient of the Kenyan Trials with seven athletes making the trip to Qatar. The best of these, Helen Obiri (8.20.68) looks a cut above but her compatriot Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi (8.24.76) will be waiting in the wings should she slip up. Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (8.29.02) is a third athlete under 8.30 with her nearest competitor, the Turk of Kenyan descent (and former European Champ), Yasemin Can. It will be interesting to see just how fast Obiri runs.Embed from Getty Images
Featured image “File:Samuel Tefera, Ayanleh Souleiman and Timothy Cheruiyot at the 2018 African Athletics Championships.jpg” by Bob Ramsak is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
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