20 April, 2017

Rio jump rivalries to resume in Shanghai

Olympic jump champions Derek Drouin and Jeff Henderson will face the men they beat to claim gold in Rio last August when they open their 2017 Diamond League campaigns in Shanghai on 13 May.

Both produced their best form of the year in Rio to claim 2016 Olympic gold by the thinnest of margins. Drouin high jumped 2.38m to beat Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim by 2cm, while Henderson leapt out to 8.38m in the final round of the long jump to snatch victory from South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga by just 1cm.

The two pairs will resume their rivalries in the Shanghai Stadium as the jumpers set out in pursuit of early season victory and all-important Diamond League points.

Drouin’s Rio gold came just 12 months after he’d broken the hearts of home fans to win the World Championship crown in Beijing by out-leaping Zhang Guowei in a tense and thrilling jump-off. Zhang will be looking for revenge over his Beijing conqueror.

After both had cleared 2.33m in the Bird’s Nest final, the Canadian grabbed the first of his two global titles from the home nation’s maverick leaper by sailing over 2.34m at the first attempt.

For Drouin this will be a Shanghai Diamond League debut, while Barshim returns to Shanghai seeking a third victory at China’s premier one-day international athletics meeting. He set a Shanghai Stadium record of 2.38m to win here two years ago after winning with 2.33m in 2013.

The high jump is unlikely to be a straightforward three-way tussle, however, for the 2016 Diamond Race high jump champion Erik Kynard will also be in the field.

The US champion was seventh on his one previous Shanghai appearance in 2015, but the London 2012 Olympic silver medallist leapt 2.35m to secure the Diamond Race trophy in Brussels last September and will be keen to make a winning start to his title defence in 2017.

Henderson returns to Shanghai for the third time in three years after finishing second in 2015 and fourth last May when China’s Gao Xinglong took top honours.

This year he will face, not only Manyonga, making his Shanghai debut, but also Australia’s world silver medallist, Fabrice Lapierre, who was third last year and went to lift the Diamond Race in Brussels after consistently placing in the top three throughout last year’s campaign.