IAAF Diamond League Preview: Five Aussies and an 11th-hour Semenya entry

The first leg of the 14 meet IAAF Diamond League series takes place early Saturday morning AEST (2:00-4:00am, Eurosport), and the Tokyo 2020 qualifying window is wide open.

The Khalifa International Stadium will play host to five Australian’s, as Brooke Stratton, Naa Anang, Lauren Wells, Nicola McDermott and Ryan Gregson acquaint themselves with 2019’s world championship facility.

W Long Jump
Stratton – SB =  6.74m
Anang – SB = 6.81m (PB)

Stratton and Anang have provided Aussie jumps fans with an exciting series of head to head contests throughout the domestic season, securing world championship qualifiers in the process.

The field in Doha is headlined by 2018 Diamond League long & triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen (COL), who positively obliterated all comers last season, leaping out to 6.93m at the Contential Cup, whilst recording four jumps in excess of 6.80m. The Australian pairing will have three 7 metre jumpers to contend with, Lorraine Ugen (GRB/7.05m), Shara Proctor (GBR/7.07m), 2016 Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta (USA/7.17m), including 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Christabel Nettey (CAN/6.99m).

W 400m Hurdles
Wells – SB = 54.87 (PB)

Wells will arrive in Doha in career best form, as the 12-time national champion has expertly juggled full-time teaching work to produce a series of outstanding performances. Showing substantial versatility in a recent visit to the Stawell Gift.

Wells is set to have her hands full, with seven sub-55 second competitors, including the likes of 2016 Olympic champion & 2017 World Championships silver medallist Dalilah Muhammed (USA/52.64PB). Muhammed, the defending Diamond League champion, has had an encouraging early outdoor season, setting a 400m personal best of 51.62 on April 20th, a substantial improvement from her previous personal best of 52.64 (2016). Notable contenders include 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Janieve Russell (JAM/53.46) and Ashley Spencer (USA/53.11).

W High Jump
McDermott – SB = 1.94m (PB)

I’d hazard a guess that McDermott might bounce into Doha full of confidence, following a superb 2018 & 2019 which included a Commonwealth Games bronze medal and six of her ten career best jumps.

Whilst McDermott is ranked last in the field on personal best, the 22-year old is likely to relish the opportunity to challenge the very best in the world. Feature jumpers include 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Levern Spencer (LCA/1.98m), and a pair of 2.00m+ jumpers in Mirela Demireva (BUL/2.00m), and Elena Vallortigara (ITA/2.02m).

M 1500m
Gregson – SB = 3:37.52i/3:40.75 outdoor

As a middle distance tragic, I can’t help but admire the sheer bottle of Gregson. Coming off a domestic season slightly below his usually stratospherically high standards, you wouldn’t blame the 29-year old national record holder if he had decided a quiet training camp on a mountain somewhere was the best remedy.

Instead, Gregson is being thrown into a veritable 1500m lions den, taking on the absolute best the world has to offer, in what tends to be an appropriately rapid affair. Last season, outside of major championships, there was a grand total of one race in which 3:35.00 was broken without the presence of world champion Elijah Manangoi (KEN/3:28.80) or his training partner and 2018 world leader Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN/3:28.41) – in that very race in Rabat, Gregson tore around in 3:34.83 for sixth. Manangoi and Cheruiyot will be in attendance in Doha, including Managoi’s 18-year old kid brother/phenom/world junior champion George (KEN/3:35.53). Other heavy hitters in a field where Gregson is the lone non-African include sub-3:30 performers Abdelaati Iguider (MAR/3:28.79), Ronald Kwemoi (KEN/3:28.81) and Ayanleh Souleiman (DJI/3:29.58).

Notables

The remaining events are filled to the brim with big names, as one would expect at such a meeting.

Middle distance fans will be curious to see how 14 individuals navigate an 800m race including Nijel Amos (BOT/1:41.73), Donovan Brazier (USA/1:43.55), Emmanuel Korir (KEN/1:42.05), Ferguson Rotich (KEN/1:42.84) and Adam Kszczot (POL/1:43.30).

The throws world will keep a keen eye on the men’s shot put, where seven 22.00m+ throwers will do battle, featuring the two delightfully in-form monolith’s Tomas Walsh (NZ) and Ryan Crouser (USA). Crouser set keyboards alight recently, launching out a 22.74m missile in California, the sixth ranked mark in history, in a series of throws featuring a 22.73m put.

A topical late addition to the women’s 800m field is Caster Semenya (RSA), added to the entry list as of today, Twitter trivia types did ponder when the last instance of an Olympic champion being added to a field the evening prior to a Diamond League may have been? The recent ruling in the Court of Arbitration for Sport will require Semenya to take testosterone lowering medication, should she wish to compete in the 800m event – however, this ruling comes into effect following the Doha Diamond League. In what is an unusual sight in Semenya-led races, a pacemaker is listed in the field, thus, keep your eyes peeled for what might be quite the proverbial microphone drop.

Full fields & timetable available here: https://doha.diamondleague.com/programme-results-doha/

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