Rudisha leads athletics stars at Shanghai Diamond League


Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha waves his national flag as he celebrates winning the Men's 800m ...
Kenya's David Lekuta Rudisha waves his national flag as he celebrates winning the Men's 800m Final during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 15, 2016. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

World 800m record holder and double Olympic champion David Rudisha will lead a galaxy of international track and field stars announced on Thursday for the 2017 Shanghai Diamond League on May 13, the second stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

The stellar line-up also includes four gold medallists from the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 and nine Diamond Race winners from 2016, plus an array of last year’s world-leading performers.

One of those is sprint hurdler Omar McLeod who produced the world’s fastest time of the season to win the Shanghai meeting’s traditional closing event, the men’s 110m hurdles.

The newly-crowned world indoor champion left two world champions and the world record-holder in his wake as he clocked 12.98 to grab the headlines. He went on to win Olympic gold in Rio and will be looking to show similar early season form in Shanghai this May as he gears up for a tilt at the world title in London.

The 22-year-old Jamaican will have to be at his best on 13 May, however, as he faces Spain’s Orlando Ortega, the Olympic silver medallist who went on to win the Diamond Race trophy with late-season victories in Lausanne and Brussels. The Spaniard will be looking to make amends in 2017 after being disqualified for a false start in Shanghai last year.

The men’s 110m hurdles always attracts huge interest, but it is far from the only highlight in what promises to be a meeting full of top class performances as the world’s leading athletes begin the long build-up to August’s IAAF World Championships London 2017.

Rudisha is one of four world champions in Shanghai who will be looking for some early pointers just three months ahead of his world title defence. He made his Shanghai Diamond League debut last May and went on to retain the Olympic title in Rio.

The women’s 100m showcases Jamaica’s double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson, who will be making her first appearance in Shanghai.

Another Olympic gold medallist, Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas, takes on last season’s Diamond Race winner Stephenie Ann McPherson of Jamaica in the 400m.

A further trio of Olympic champions will grace the women’s distance events: 1500m gold medallist Faith Kipyegon, who broke the Kenyan and meeting record in Shanghai last May; Almaz Ayana, who smashed the 5000m meeting record two years ago when she clocked the third fastest time ever; and steeplechase world record-holder Ruth Jebet.

Ayana won the world 5000m title in Beijing and last summer added Olympic 10,000m gold when she smashed the world record in Rio, while Jebet claimed Olympic gold in Brazil and broke the world record in Paris.

Olympic champion Kerron Clement begins his campaign to retain the Diamond Race 400m hurdles trophy, while reigning Diamond Race champion Alonso Edward tops a 200m field that includes Chinese record-holder and world 4x100m silver medallist Xie Zhenye.

The men’s field events also feature some intriguing match-ups. The pole vault pitches Olympic champion Thiago Braz against world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie, while Canada’s world and Olympic champion Derek Drouin takes on China’s world silver medallist Zhang Guowei in the high jump.

Olympic gold medallist Christoph Harting will make his Shanghai debut in the discus against world champion and Olympic silver medallist Piotr Malachowski, while another Olympic champion, USA’s Jeff Henderson, leads the long jump field.

Croatia’s double Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic will be seeking her fourth victory at the Shanghai Stadium, while China’s Gong Lijiao will hope to reproduce the crowd-pleasing form that saw her defeat a world-class field to win the shot put contest two years ago.

-Report by the IAAF

2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar

5 May – Doha, QAT

13 May – Shanghai, CHN

27 May – Eugene, USA

8 Jun – Rome, ITA

15 Jun – Oslo, NOR

18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE

1 Jul – Paris, FRA

6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI

9 Jul – London, GBR

16 Jul – Rabat, MAR

21 Jul – Monaco, MON

20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR

24 Aug – Zurich, SUI

1 Sep – Brussels, BEL

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