|A roll call of recent champions and record breakers will line up for the two hurdles events at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 13 May when Rio Olympic gold medallists Omar McLeod and Kerron Clement face tough early season tests at the start of their 2017 campaigns.
Sprint hurdler McLeod produced the world’s fastest time of the season to win the Shanghai meeting’s traditional closing event 12 months ago, the Jamaican clocking 12.98 to grab the hurdles headlines ahead of two world champions and the world record holder.
The 22-year-old will have to be at his best again this year as he faces a field worthy of any global final.
Spain’s Orlando Ortega, the former Cuban who took silver in Rio, could provide the main opposition, but it will be hard race to call with a line-up including 2013 world champion David Oliver, 2012 Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt, 2015 world gold and silver medallists, Sergey Shubenkov and Hansle Parchment, and China’s own Asian Games champion, Xie Wenjun.
Ortega was second behind Oliver in Shanghai two years ago but will be looking to make amends in 2017 after being disqualified for a false start last year. He went on to win the 2016 Diamond Race Trophy with late season victories in Lausanne and Brussels.
Merritt also false started in 2016 and is yet to win the Shanghai event in five appearances. Parchment was second last year, while Oliver triumphed in both 2010 and 2015 but could only place fifth last May.
Shubenkov has finished fourth, fifth and sixth here on previous appearances and the Russian be keen to make an impression on his return to international action after missing out in 2016.
It will be just as tough for Clement to take maximum points in the one-lap hurdles where the double Olympic and double world champion takes on the two men who joined him on the Rio podium – Boniface Mucheru of Kenya and Turkey’s Yasmani Copello, who set national records to take silver and bronze respectively.
Clement could only place seventh in Shanghai last May but went to win the Diamond Race for 400m hurdles with victories in London and Zurich. Mucheru picked up the African title and Copello, a former Cuban, won European gold in Amsterdam last July.
Mucheru’s Olympic final run improved the Kenyan record set by Nicholas Bett to win the Beijing 2015 World Championship title. After being disqualified in the Olympic heats, Bett will want to make a positive start in 2017 as he returns to Shanghai after finishing out of the points in sixth place last year.
|More big names will be announced in the next few weeks.
The 2017 Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 13 May will include 16 events, nine for men (100m, 200m, 800m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, discus) and seven for women (100m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m 3000m steeplechase, shot put, discus).