Last year’s Diamond League winner Justin Gatlin returns to China to take on US compatriot and world finalist Mike Rodgers after winning two silver medals at last summer’s Beijing World Championships.Gatlin dominated the Diamond Race in 2015 but was beaten twice by Usain Bolt in the world finals. He will be looking to kickstart his 2016 Diamond League campaign having already run a wind-assisted 9.90s this season.
Rodgers finished fifth in the Beijing final and was sixth over 60m at this year’s World Indoor Championships in Portland. He clocked 10.03 in Kingston last weekend to move to 10th on this year’s world list.
Femi Ogunode has also been in good early season form and the Qatari will be gunning for Gatlin’s scalp after equalling the Asian record of 9.91 last month to lead the world standings.
Former world champion Kim Collins is still going strong at 40 and the St Kitts and Nevis sprinter will lead the Caribbean challenge alongside Barbadan Ramon Gittens, who won world indoor bronze at 60m in Portland two months ago.
China’s sprinting prowess grows every year and the hosts will be represented here by national record holder Zhang Peimeng and Xie Zhenye who together formed half of the country’s silver medal-winning 4x100m team in Beijing.
Meeting record 9.69, Tyson Gay (2009)
David Rudisha will be looking for some early season form just three months ahead of his Olympic title defence. The 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.
Rudisha opened his season in familiar fashion, with victory at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Melbourne in early March, but the 27-year-old will be looking to improve his time of 1:44.78 and threaten the early season world lead of 1:43.37.
Four fellow Kenyans are among those who’ll be chasing the main man, including world finalists Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich and Alfred Kipketer, and 2013 1500m world youth champion Robert Biwott.
US pair Erik Sowinski and Nick Symmonds will also be keen to get among the points. Sowinski picked up a world indoor bronze in Portland in March, while Symmonds was a world outdoor silver medallist in 2013. Antoine Gakeme of Burundi should also be full of confidence after winning world indoor silver this year.
Meeting record 1:44.63, Wilfred Bungei (2008)
Yomif Kejelcha begins his defence of the long distance Diamond Race trophy as the best of east Africa’s endurance men battle for early season points.
The former world junior champion and world indoor 3000m bronze medallist takes on fellow Ethiopian and world bronze medallist Hagos Gebrhiwet, plus Olympic silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel and former world cross country champion Imane Merga.
Yenew Alamirew is also in the field for Ethiopia – the world and Olympic finalist won here two years ago, while Olympic medallists Thomas Longosiwa and Edwin Soi lead the Kenyan challenge alongside former world junior champion Augustine Choge.
World junior 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei flies the flag for Uganda, while China’s 2014 Asian Games finalist, Duo Bujie, will be looking to lower his best time as he steps out onto the big stage.
Meeting record 13:04.86, Yenew Alamirew (2014)
US sprint hurdler David Oliver 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, hopes to kickstart his 2016 campaign in similar vein as he goes for glory in an event that always forms the climax of the meeting.
It could be another emotional occasion this year as Oliver’s teammate Aries Merritt returns to China following a kidney transplant operation he had shortly after the Beijing World Championships last summer. Merritt broke the world record in 2012 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 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 fellow American Jason Richardson, the 2011 world champion who won here three years ago, and Omar McLeod, the Jamaican who won the world indoor gold in Portland earlier this year. We shouldn’t overlook Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, nor former Cuban Orlando Ortega, now competing for Spain.
China’s talented prospect, Xie Wenjun, last year’s Asian champion, will be hoping to repeat his unexpected victory here in 2014.
Meeting record 12.97, Liu Xiang (2012)
World champion Nicholas Bett heads a one-lap line-up that could even put the sprint hurdles in the shade. Bett produced one of the shocks of the World Championships in Beijing last summer when he won gold with a Kenyan record of 47.79, good enough to rank number one in the world for 2015.
Bett returns to China to begin his 2016 campaign among a line-up that contains no fewer than six world or Olympic medallists, including two former world champions, plus last year’s Diamond Race winner, Bershawn Jackson.
Jackson, the 2005 world champion, who dominated the Diamond League standings last year, will be joined by US compatriots Michael Tinsley, the 2012 Olympic and 2013 world silver medallist, and Kerron Clement, the 2007 and 2009 world champion who was fourth at the 2015 Worlds and ranks seventh fastest of all time.
The field also includes Jeffery Gibson, the 2015 Pan American Games champion who broke the Bahamas record to win bronze in Beijing; the Olympic bronze and two-times world silver medallist, Javier Culson of Puerto Rica, who took Pan Am silver behind Gibson in Toronto last summer; and LJ van Zyl, the 2011 world bronze medallist, who holds the South African record and was fourth in last season’s Diamond Race standings.
Add to the mix Turkish record holder Yasmani Copello, another 2015 World finalist, and Bett’s fellow Kenyan Boniface Tumuti, who was fifth in Beijing, and you have an event good enough to match any on the Diamond League circuit.
Meeting record 48.77, Michael Tinsley (2014)
World record holder Renaud Lavillenie launches his bid for an unprecedented seventh Diamond Race victory after winning his second world indoor crown in Portland two months ago with a championship record of 6.02m.
Lavillenie makes no secret of his love for the Diamond League having won the pole vault Race more times than any other athlete. Indeed, he is the only athlete in any event to have won the Diamond League every year since the inception of the world-class one-day meeting circuit in 2010.
After a difficult year in 2015, when the three-times European champion again failed to take world outdoor gold, Lavillenie is keen to start his 2016 summer season with victory over Canada’s Shawn Barber, the man who beat him in Beijing.
Lavillenie leapt a world leading height of 5.92m on his last appearance in Shanghai two years ago, and he’ll be seeking a similar performance this year as he gears up to defend his Olympic title in Rio.
Barber leads the world standings with 5.91m and should provide the main opposition to the flying Frenchman, while Konstandinos Filippidi will also be a threat. The Greek vaulter was runner-up in last year’s Diamond Race and is a former world indoor champion.
World bronze medallist Piotr Lisek is also in the field along with fellow Pole Robert Sobera and USA’s world indoor silver medallist, Sam Kendricks.
The talented 19-year-old Huang Bokai leads is one of three Chinese vaulters who could be among the points winners. Huang won the Asian junior title in 2014 a year after taking silver at the World Youth Championships.
He’ll be joined by Yao Jie, who set a personal best of 5.60m indoors this year, and national record holder Xue Changrui, a former Asian and Asian Games champion who has competed in world and world indoor finals in recent years.
Meeting record 5.92m, Renaud Lavillenie (2014)
China’s teenage star Wang Jianan will lead a trio of homegrown talent against two of the world’s best leapers, as the best of China takes on Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre and last year’s world number one, Jeff Henderson, in what promises to be one of the highlights of the meeting.
Wang was two days short of his 19th birthday when he bagged a bronze in Beijing, finishing one place behind Lapierre with compatriots Gao Xinglong and Li Jinzhe filling places four and five. Gao will also feature here alongside Huang Changzhou, the 21-year-old who won world indoor bronze in Portland.
Wang leapt to an Asian junior record of 8.25m to finish a third in Shanghai last year and went on to add a world bronze medal to the world junior title he won in 2014 and the Asian senior crown he picked up aged just 16 in 2013.
He will have to be on top form simply to win the domestic battle on Saturday, however. Gao was only just out of the medals in Beijing and claimed the 2015 Asian title last June, while Huang was the man in form during the recent indoor season.
Lapierre will be full of confidence after breaking the Oceania indoor record to win silver in Portland, while Henderson produced the three longest jumps in the world last year, including a world-leading leap of 8.52m to win the Pan Am title in Toronto.
Meeting record 8.44m, Mitchell Watt (2011)
World outdoor champion, Joe Kovacs, last year’s Diamond Race winner, faces New Zealand’s recently crowned world indoor champion, Tom Walsh, alongside two US compatriots – former world champion Christian Cantwell and two-time world indoor champion Ryan Whiting – plus the giant Pole, Tomasz Majewski, who’s chasing his third consecutive Olympic gold this summer.
Kovacs already leads the world outdoor standings with 21.47m and the 26-year-old will be looking to make a winning start to his Diamond Race defence. But Walsh will be hard to beat if he can re-capture the indoor form that saw him break the Oceania indoor record three times in the Portland final.
The experienced Majewski was out of the medals in Beijing but has a habit of getting it right in Olympic year, while Cantwell and Whiting are seeking a return to their best form.
Jamaica’s Pan American Games champion O’Dayne Richards is also in the line-up, as is the man he beat in Toronto last summer, Canada’s Tim Nedow, while Liu Yang and Wu Jiaxing provide the home interest.
Meeting record 21.73m, Christian Cantwell (2014)
World silver medallist Ihab Abdelrahman spearheads a top-quality field on his return to China just two years after he launched himself into the athletics headlines with a shock victory at the 2014 Shanghai meeting. The 27-year-old stunned the crowd with a massive personal best of 89.21m, long enough not only to beat the reigning world and Olympic champions and take maximum Diamond League points, but to smash the African record as he announced himself as a major contender for world javelin honours.
Abdelrahman made good on that promise last August when he returned to China to clinch a silver medal at the Beijing World Championships with the second longest throw of his career.
He has already won the Egyptian title this season and will be keen to make a winning start to his 2016 Diamond League campaign when he takes on the man who finished fourth behind him in Beijing - German Thomas Röhler – plus 2013 world champion Vítězslav Veselý.
Veselý is a familiar figure in Shanghai having performed here four times in the past. The 33-year-old enjoyed victory in 2012, was second in 2013, and third in 2010 and 2014.
Veselý will be joined by Czech compatriot Jakub Vadlejch, the early world leader with 85.54m. Japanese Ryohei Arai – who finished second in Kawasaki last weekend – is also in the field, while China’s hopes rest with Asian Games champion, Zhao Qinggang.
Meeting record 89.21, Ihab Abdelrahman (2014)
China’s maverick high jump hero Zhang Guowei will come face-to-face with Bohdan Bondarenko, the man he matched height-for-height at the Beijing World Championships.
The pair were almost inseparable in 2015 when they finished joint second in Beijing to share the silver medal, ended the season just 1cm apart placed second and third on the world list, and finished second and third behind Qatar’s world leader Mutaz Barshim in the high jump Diamond Race.
For Zhang, 2015 was a breakthrough year as the head-banded showman improved his personal best by 4cm from 2.34m to 2.38m to rank just below Barshim, while he picked up his first global medal to go with the Asian Games silver he won in 2014. He now ranks 1cm below the legendary former world record holder Zhu Jianhua on China’s all-time high jump rankings and has already eclipsed Zhu’s national indoor record.
Bondarenko started last season in style by leaping 2.37m in early May, but the 2013 world and 2014 European champion couldn’t quite reach the heights of two years ago when he broke the Ukrainian record to place joint third on the world all-time list with 2.42m. With the Olympic Games in Rio just three months away, he’ll be hoping to return to that sort of form in 2016.
The pair have clashed twice at the Shanghai meeting over the past last three years, with Bondarenko finishing second in 2013, one place ahead of his Chinese rival, and again 12 months ago when they both cleared 2.32m, again beaten by Barshim.
The Qatari is not in the line-up this time, but the pair will face USA’s 2011 world champion Jesse Williams, Czech Republic’s world finalist Jaroslav Bába, Canada’s Olympic finalist Michael Mason, and Israel’s former world youth champion Dmitriy Kroyter.
Meeting record 2.38m, Mutaz Essa Barshim (2015)