Event Previews – Men
Three of the four fastest sprinters in the world last year go head-to-head against China’s sprint sensation, Su Bingtian, and British tearaway, Reece Prescod, who shocked the crowd last year by snatching victory from the outside lane.
The field of nine sub-10 men is headed by Diamond League champion, Christian Coleman, who smashed the 20-year-old world indoor 60m record to take gold ahead of Su at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham last March.
The 22-year-old from Fayetteville, Georgia, then scorched to a sensational 9.79 seconds to win the Diamond League 100m final in Brussels last August becoming the eighth man in history to dip under 9.80, and running almost a tenth of a second quicker than anyone else in the world in 2018.
Coleman was forced to withdraw from last year’s Shanghai meeting with injury, but he will be a hot favourite this year when he faces US compatriots Noah Lyles and Mike Rogers, who all ran sub-9.90 last summer and filled spots three and four on the 2018 world list.
Su will also be full of confidence as he seeks to regain the crown he made his own in 2017. The Guangzhou native lowered his national record to 9.91 last summer and twice equalled the Asian record before taking 100m gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta in August.
He also blazed a trail across Europe during the recent indoor season, running a world leading time of 6.47 at the Birmingham Grand Prix, just five hundredths outside the Asian record he set in the same city last year.
Prescod sprung a surprise to beat Su in last year’s race and the 23-year-old went on to win a silver medal at the European Championships in Berlin before setting a national under-23 record of 9.94 on home soil in Birmingham.
Last year’s African and Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine is another sub-9.90 man at his best and the South African could be looking to cause an upset.
Andre De Grasse will be hoping to mark his return to form and fitness after two seasons dogged by injury. The 24-year-old picked up silver and bronze medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics but withdrew from the 2017 World Championships in London when he was one of the favourites for both sprint titles.
South African youngster Clarence Munyai will be hoping to impress on his Diamond League debut. The 21-year-old is the 2017 African junior champion and broke Wayde van Niekerk’s national record clocking a sensational 19.69 at altitude in Pretoria last March.
Britain’s European silver medallist, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, will also be looking for some early season form, as will Panama’s former world silver medallist, Alonso Edwards, who was fifth in Doha.
World silver medallist Steven Gardiner will be hoping to repeat last year’s impressive victory in the men’s one-lap race against the man he pushed into second in 2018, Isaac Makwala of Botswana.
Makwala won the Commonwealth Games title last April but didn’t race again in 2018 after his Shanghai runner-up spot, and the former African record holder will be hoping to get back among the contenders in 2019.
Gardiner was among a select group of three men to go under 44 seconds last year. Akeem Bloomfield was one of the others and the Jamaican will also be in contention along with compatriot Nathon Allen and US trio Nathan Strother, Michael Cherry and Fred Kerley.
Cherry is the most experienced of those three with a world indoor silver from Birmingham last year, and world indoor and outdoor relay silvers. Strother was third at last September’s Continental Cup, while Kerley is the fourth man in this line-up to have entered sub-44 territory in the past.
Three talented Ethiopians head the start list for a loaded men’s 5000m that pitches world indoor 3000m champion Yomif Kejelcha against Selemon Berega and Hagos Gebrhiwet, two compatriots who placed first and second in the super-quick Diamond League final last summer.
Berega ran the fastest 5000m of 2018 to win that race in Brussels, while Kejelcha retained his world indoor crown in Birmingham last March before romping to a world indoor mile record in Boston a year later, his fourth national record at the distance in the space of two months this winter.
Kejelcha already heads this year’s world list with 13:10.72 from Stanford two weeks ago and the 21-year-old former world and youth champion will be hard to beat.
USA’s world and Olympic medallist, Paul Chelimo, and Morocco’s former world indoor 1500m champion, Abdelaati Iguider are among those who’ll try to break up the Ethiopian train, along with Bahrain’s recently crowned Arab and Asian champion, Birhanu Balew, and Albert Rop, the former African record holder who took bronze behind his compatriot at both those events.
The Kenyan challenge comes from a trio of youngsters – former world youth champion Richard Yator, world junior silver medallist Stanley Mburu, who was third here last year, and Nicholas Kimeli, the 2017 African junior 10,000m champion.
World 10,000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei shouldn’t be discounted either after the Ugandan won double gold at the Commonwealth Games last year.
China’s chances rest with Peng Jianhua, the 2018 Asian cross country champion.
World and Olympic champion Omar McLeod targets a fourth successive victory after his historic hat-trick victory 12 months ago when he became the most successful athlete ever in the meeting’s blue riband contest.
The 25-year-old shrugged off injury niggles last year to beat Spain’s Olympic silver medallist, Orlando Ortega, and claim his third straight title in a world-leading time of 13.16 seconds. More significantly, he moved ahead of his boyhood hero, Liu Xiang, who enjoyed two crowd-pleasing victories at his home-town meeting before his retirement in 2012.
McLeod was “overcome with emotion” after achieving the ‘three-peat’ at his favourite one-day meeting 12 months ago. “The appreciation and respect they have for hurdlers here is really special to me,” said McLeod.
The Jamaican’s first Shanghai victory came in 2016 when he clocked a world leading 12.98 to grab the title ahead of two world champions and the world record holder. He went on to claim the Rio Olympic gold in front of Ortega, the former Cuban he beat in a neck-and-neck tussle to retain his Shanghai crown in 2017.
He added world outdoor gold to his collection in London that summer and returned to Shanghai last May where again it was Ortega who poised the greatest challenge to his reign. The two will clash yet again on Saturday when battle resumes with Ortega seeking his first victory after finishing runner-up in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Others aiming to wrest the crown from McLeod’s grasp include 2015 world champion Sergey Shubenkov, who was second behind the Jamaican at the London World Championships and third here last year, plus the reigning world and European indoor champions, Andy Pozzi of Britain and Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus.
China’s hopes rest with two-time Asian Championship and Asian Games victor, Xie Wenjun, who hopes to repeat his 2014 victory after missing last year’s meeting with injury.
World record holder Aries Merritt has withdrawn leaving Freddie Crittenden to lead the USA challenge. South Africa’s two-time African champion Antonio Alkana also steps into the field targeting his African record of 13.11.
Two of the three fastest men in history clash in the one-lap hurdles as Qatar’s world number one and newly-minted Asian champion, Abderrahmane Samba, lines up against USA’s new discovery, Rai Benjamin.
Samba is looking to extend an unbeaten streak that stretches back to the London 2017 World Championship final, where he was seventh. The former Mauritanian not only went through last year’s Diamond League campaign without losing, but lowered the Qatari record on five occasions and the Asian record three times, culminating with an astonishing 46.98 clocking in Paris to move to second on the world all-time list.
The 23-year-old finished his 2018 campaign by taking gold at the Asian Games and the IAAF Continental Cup, and already leads this year’s world list by nearly 1.3 seconds with his 47.51 victory on home soil at the Asian Championships in Doha.
Benjamin equalled the North American record running 47.02 at the NCAA championships in Eugene last June to share second on the all-time list with Ed Moses, but was shunted down to third by Samba’s Paris run.
Benjamin hasn’t contested a 400m hurdles race since then, but he ran a 200m PB of 19.99 last year and started his 2019 outdoor campaign with a 400m best of 44.31.
Estonia’s Olympic finalist Rasmus Mägi and Ireland’s European bronze medallist Thomas Barr are also in the field, along with Brazil’s Ibero American champion Marcio Teles and Japan’s former Asian champion Takatoshi Abe.
China’s Asian Games champion Wang Yu takes on six men who have leapt 2.35m or higher in their careers, including two former world champions and Mateusz Przybylko of Germany who was crowned king of Europe last August.
Wang will be full of confidence for a first Shanghai victory after setting a national record indoors this winter, leaping 2.34 in Dusseldorf in February, 1cm higher than his outdoor best. He cleared 2.30m here two years ago but was beaten by the soaring Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim who went on to win the world title that summer.
Former world champions, Donald Thomas of Bahamas and Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine, will be in the mix this time along with Przybylko. But the biggest threat could come from this year’s joint world leaders – Michael Mason of Canada and Majed El Dein Ghazal of Syria.
Ghazal is the 2019 Asian champion, while Asian record holder, Brandon Starc of Australia has also cleared 2.36m and cannot be discounted.
China’s Asian Games champion Wang Jianan faces a trio of talented South Africans, including world champion Luvo Manyonga, as he seeks his first victory at the Shanghai Stadium.
Wang was third in 2015 when he went on to take bronze on home soil at the Beijing World Championships. He won the Asian Games title in Jakarta last summer and paced fifth at the Continental Cup.
Manyonga set a world lead of 8.56 metres to snatch a rainy victory in the final round here last year just a month after winning the Commonwealth Games crown. He went on to win the Diamond League trophy at the final in Zürich and will be keen to make a winning start to his 2019 campaign.
Manyonga is joined by fellow South Africans Zarck Visser and Ruswahl Samaai, who could both pose threats. Visser is the world’s leading jumper so far this year with 8.41m, while Samaai took the world bronze medal in London in 2017.
European champion Miltiádis Tentóglou of Greece is also in the field along with Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle, who has already improved his best to 8.30m this year. And keep your eye out for Zack Bazile, last year’s US collegiate champion who is tipped to be the next American long jump star.
China’s chances are boosted by the presence of Huang Changzhou, the 2017 Asian long jump champion, and Zhang Yaoguang, who won silver medals at last year’s Asian Games and this year’s Asian Championships.
Germany’s reigning Olympic Thomas Röhler bids for early season bragging rights in a loaded javelin field that contains four men who have thrown beyond the magical 90-metre line.
Röhler reigned supreme last year when he took the European and Continental Cup titles while he also took maximum points in Shanghai three years ago, the last time the men’s javelin featured at this meeting.
He will come up against the world and Olympic silver medallists – respectively, Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic and Kenya’s Julius Yego – plus compatriot Andreas Hofmann, who took silver behind Röhler at the Europeans last year.
Cheng Chao-Tsun of Chinese Taipei is also in the line up and will have high expectations after winning last month’s Asian Championships in Doha with 86.72m, the longest in the world so far this year.