First 16 DL champions to be crowned in Zurich
- Spectators at Zurich’s Letzigrund Stadium have grown accustomed over the years to richly entertaining track and field action and they are highly unlikely to feel short-changed by Thursday evening’s offering at the Weltklasse meeting, in the first of this season's IAAF Diamond League finals
- The field assembled across 16 disciplines – the other 16 will be settled in Brussels on the following night – is due to include 11 Olympic champions, 12 world champions and 11 European champions
Spectators at Zurich’s Letzigrund Stadium have grown accustomed over the years to richly entertaining track and field action and they are highly unlikely to feel short-changed by Thursday evening’s offering at the Weltklasse meeting, in the first of this season’s IAAF Diamond League finals.
The field assembled across 16 disciplines – the other 16 will be settled in Brussels on the following night – is due to include 11 Olympic champions, 12 world champions and 11 European champions.
Will Norway’s 17-year-old wonderboy Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a late addition to the men’s 1500m field, make a serious impression on the two Kenyans who have dominated proceedings this season, Timothy Cheruiyot and his training partner Elijah Manangoi, defending and world champion?
Will one of the mighty German javelin throwers top the podium again? Will Britain’s European 100 and 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith, joint fastest this year over the shorter distance and out on her own over the longer, add another distinction to her soaring career?
And perhaps most fascinatingly of all, what will happen in the men’s long jump when world and defending long jump champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa meets the startling new talent of 20-year-old Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba, who almost leapt out of the pit at the Stockholm Diamond League in recording 8.83m, which would have been the fifth farthest legal mark recorded but for a following wind of 2.1 metres per second, just 0.1 over the limit.
Drama aplenty as winner takes all
Last season’s introductions of the winner-takes-all format for the finals — with the coveted Diamond Trophy in each discipline and a US$50,000 winner’s check up for grabs — heightened the drama and left some unexpected athletes feeling, in the words of the Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who completed a 200/400m double across the Zurich and Brussels meetings, “happy, happy, happy!”
It’s debateable whether the Rio 2016 400m champion would have attempted such a double had she been operating under the old system where points earned in the preceding 12 meetings were carried into the two finales.
London 2012 Olympic Olga Rypakova champion arrived in Zurich without an international victory to her name in 2017, but left as Diamond League champion after defeating Rio 2016 champion Caterine Ibarguen and newly-installed world champion Yulimar Rojas.
Germany’s Olympic javelin champion Thomas Rohler threw 93.90m at the season-opener in Doha, putting him second on the all-time world list, and won two more Diamond League meetings before the final, with the other going to his compatriot Johannes Vetter, who took the world title in London. But the Diamond League title went to the Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch’s victory with 88.50m.
On the day before the main programme in Brussels, competing in the city centre, United States shot putter Darrell Hill claimed the Diamond League title with the throw of his career to date to beat a field including his compatriot, Rio 2016 champion Ryan Crouser, and New Zealand’s world champion Tom Walsh.
Sergey Shubenkov, whose defence of his world 110m hurdles title in London last month had ended with a silver medal behind the new champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica, took his first Diamond Trophy.
Kipruto and El Bakkali, The next chapter
Kenya’s Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto will defend his title against a field that includes Morocco’s world silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali.
World and European champion Mariya Lasitskene’s rage at failing to clear more than 2.00m in winning the latter title this month offered a clear indication of her standards.
She will need to be at that level at least to defend her Diamond League title against a field that includes the Bulgarian who took silver on countback in Berlin after also clearing 2.00m, Mirela Demireva, world silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko of Ukraine, and Germany’s European bronze medallist Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch.
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