Throwing stars lead China’s challenge at Shanghai Diamond League
Gong channelled ‘China Power’ 12 months ago when she dominated the women’s shot put to notch up a fourth Shanghai Diamond League victory and cement her status as the best in world, while Lyu unleashed a meeting record to win the javelin in front of the stadium’s dedicated section of superfans.
The pair went on to claim Continental Cup titles for Asia last September and return to Shanghai this year in the form of their lives having won Asian Championship titles in Doha last month.
Lyu will be full of confidence after her victory in the Qatari capital, which came just a week after she broke the Asian record in Huangshi to lead the 2019 world javelin standings by almost two metres.
South Africa’s Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen will also be among Lyu’s challengers after she placed sixth last year, as will Germany’s European champion Christin Hussong and Belarussian thrower, Tatsiana Khaladovich, who won the European title in 2016.
Gong also faces a formidable field as she bids to win a fifth Shanghai shot title and extend an unbeaten run of outdoor victories that stretches back to July 2017. That’s some 19 meetings without defeat, a sequence that includes the 2017 world title in London, as well as 2017 and 2018 Diamond League trophies.
Last year the world champion delighted home fans when she won by more than a metre over Danniel Thomas-Dodd and Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion is set to be one of her main rivals again after extending her national record last month.
Others who will try to break up Gong’s winning sequence include Poland’s Paulina Guba, who won the European title in Berlin last summer, and Hungary’s world indoor champion, Anita Marton.
Chase Ealey will also be a threat. She tops this year’s world list with 19.67m and will be joined in the circle by two other in-form US throwers, Jessica Ramsey and Maggie Ewen.
China’s Asian Games jump champions, Wang Jianan and Wang Yu, are also primed to take on the world’s best on home soil as they contest for long and high jump points respectively.
Wang Jianan faces world champion Luvo Manyonga, who set a world lead of 8.56 metres to snatch a rainy victory in the final round here last year. He is joined by fellow South African Ruswahl Samaai, the world bronze medallist from 2017, plus European champion Miltiádis Tentóglou of Greece.
China’s chances are boosted by the presence of Huang Changzhou, the 2017 Asian long jump champion.
In the vertical contest, Wang Yu takes on Italy’s newly-crowned European indoor champion, Gianmarco Tamberi, who makes his Shanghai debut, plus last year’s European champion, Mateusz Przybylko of Germany, and former world champions, Donald Thomas of Bahamas and Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine.
This year’s world leader, Michael Mason of Canada, is also in the mix, as is Asian record holder Brandon Starc of Australia.
Olympic, world and European champion Katerina Stefanidi will be the woman to beat in the pole vault . She faces yet another of China’s Asian champions, Li Ling, plus USA’s world silver medallist Sandi Morris and Britain’s European bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw.
Germany’s reigning Olympic and world champions, Thomas Röhler and Johannes Vetter, bid for early season bragging rights in the men’s javelin against the world and Olympic silver medallists – respectively, Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic and Kenya’s Julius Yego.
The 2019 Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 18 May will showcase 16 international events, nine for men (100m, 200m, 400m, 5000m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump, long jump, javelin) and seven for women (100m, 400m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, pole vault, shot put, javelin).