Marleen Renning, Shanghai Diamond League
Eight Beijing world champions and seven Olympic gold medallists are among the galaxy of
international track and field stars announced today for the 2016 Shanghai Diamond League
on 14 May, the second stop on the International Association of Athletics Federations’ premier
circuit of one-day meetings.
The stellar line-up includes eight event winners from the 2015 Diamond Race, including US
sprint hurdler David Oliver who returns to Shanghai looking to repeat last year’s victory when
he beat a high-class field just a few minutes before Chinese legend Liu Xiang bid an
emotional farewell to the sport. Oliver, who won the world title in 2013, will hope to kickstart
his 2016 campaign in similar winning vein as he goes for glory in an event that always forms
the climax of China’s leading international athletics meeting.
It could be another emotional occasion this year as Oliver’s US teammate Aries Merritt
makes his return to top level international competition following a kidney transplant operation
at the end of last summer. Merritt broke the world record in 2012 shortly after clinching the
Olympic title in London, but he struggled to hit the same form in subsequent seasons as he
fought the debilitating impact of his serious illness.The two US greats are no strangers to the
Shanghai Stadium having raced at this meeting 10 times between them. Oliver has won here
twice while Merritt is still looking for his first victory on Chinese soil.
The pair will face stiff opposition again in 2016, not least from Omar McLeod, the Jamaican
who won the world indoor gold in Portland earlier this month, and some of China’s talented
homegrown hurdlers whose names will be announced in the coming weeks.
The men’s 110m hurdles always attracts huge interest in Shanghai, but it is far from the only
highlight in what promises to be a meeting full of top class performances as the world’s best
athletes begin the long build-up to August’s Olympic Games in Rio.
David Rudisha is just one of the five London 2012 champions who will looking for some early
season form just three months ahead of his Olympic title defence. The 800m world record
holder makes his Shanghai Diamond League debut just nine months after recapturing his
world crown in Beijing and with memories of his astonishing world record victory at London
2012 spurring him on the road to Rio.
Elsewhere on the track, there is an intriguing clash between three former Shanghai Diamond
League 100m winners as 2015 Diamond Race winner Justin Gatlin takes on US compatriot
and former world champion Tyson Gay plus former world record holder Asafa Powell.
Two of Powell’s fellow-Jamaicans, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown,
are set for a mouth-watering clash in the women’s 200m just 12 months after both were
beaten here by Nigeria’s multi-talented Blessing Okagbare over 100m.
Fraser-Pryce bounced back to win her third world 100m title in Beijing last summer but she
will be hoping for a better performance this year as she begins her quest for a hat-trick of
Olympic 100m crowns in Rio. Campbell-Brown is aiming for a hat-trick of her own as she
looks to reclaim the Olympic 200m title she won in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Both
sprinters have won here in the past – Campbell-Brown over 100m in 2011 and 200m in 2012,
Page 2 / 2 and Fraser-Pryce in the shorter sprint three years ago. Both will feel they are due another
Kenya’s surprise world champion Nicholas Bett headlines the men’s one-lap hurdles where
he takes on Beijing bronze medallist Jeffrey Gibson of Bahamas, while Gibson’s compatriot
Shaunae Miller race Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson in the women’s flat 400m. They were silver
and bronze medallists respectively in Beijing.
Hyvin Kiyeng, another of Kenya’s Beijing world champions, will be favourite in the women’s
3000m steeplechase where she faces last year’s Diamond Race winner over the barriers,
More world champions line up in the field events, not least Canada’s high-flying gold
medallist Shawn Barber, who should provide the main opposition to the already announced
world record holder Renaud Lavillenie in the men’s pole vault.
World outdoor champion Joe Kovacs, last year’s Diamond Race winner, faces New
Zealand’s recently crowned world indoor champion Tom Walsh in the men’s shot put, while
the women’s field events include Beijing long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta against world
bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic, and Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic against
Denia Caballero, the Cuban who beat her to the world crown in Beijing.
More star names will be announced for the 2016 Shanghai Diamond League meeting in the
next few weeks.
The 2016 Shanghai Diamond League meeting will include 18 events, eleven for men (100m,
800m, 5000m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, shot put,
javelin, 4x100m relay) and seven for women (200m, 400m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase,
high jump, long jump, discus).