28 March, 2018

World and Olympic champions to star at 2018 Shanghai Diamond League

No fewer than 14 world and Olympic champions are among the galaxy of international track and field stars announced today for the 2018 Shanghai Diamond League on 12 May, the second stop on the International Association of Athletics Federations’ global circuit of premier one-day meetings.

The stellar line-up includes eight gold medallists from the London 2017 IAAF World Championships and six athletes who struck gold at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, plus nine event winners from last year’s Diamond Race and two newly crowned world indoor champions from Birmingham.

One of those is Kendra Harrison who clinched her first global crown when she took the 60m hurdles title in emphatic style in Arena Birmingham earlier this month. Harrison broke the US record to claim indoor gold and will make her Shanghai debut at 100m hurdles full of confidence for the season ahead. The American set a world and Diamond League record when she clocked 12.20 in London two years ago. Harrison will be keen to make a winning start to her 2018 campaign when she faces fellow American Brianna McNeal (formerly Rollins) who returns to action for the first time since winning the Olympic title in 2016.

The Shanghai crowd will be treated to another tasty head-to-head in the women’s 200m in which Dafne Schippers, the two-time world champion over the half-lap sprint, takes on Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo. Schippers will be racing in Shanghai for the first time, while Miller-Uibo has fond memories of the city having triumphed over 400m for the last two years. She set an early world lead to take the Shanghai title in 2017 and went on to claim overall Diamond League trophies for both 200m and 400m, setting a Bahamas record in the half-lap final in Zurich when her Dutch rival was fourth. Shaunea Miller-Uibo won the 200m bronze medal 200m at the 2017 London World Championships when a triumphant Schippers retained her crown.

The men’s sprints look equally enthralling with China’s Su Bingtian taking on two world champions, Justin Gatlin and Ramil Guliyev, at 100m, and Botswana’s Diamond League champion Isaak Makwala facing world silver medallist Steven Gardiner in the 400m. Su brought the crowd to its feet 12 months ago when he clinched his first ever Diamond League victory ahead of USA’s Mike Rodgers and the Chinese record holder will be hoping for a repeat performance against the world 100m and 200m champions just two months after taking 60m silver in Birmingham.

Omar McLeod will target a third successive Shanghai victory in the 110m hurdles when he takes on Spain’s Orlando Ortega, the former Cuban he beat in a neck-and-neck tussle to win the meeting’s traditional curtain closer last May. Jamaica’s world and Olympic champion broke the magic 13-second barrier when he triumphed here in 2016 before going on to claim the Rio Olympic crown just ahead of Ortega. He added the world outdoor title in London last summer when Ortega was seventh.

World record holder David Rudisha will hope to make it third time lucky in the men’s 800m after finishing fifth on his Shanghai debut in 2016 and third last year, while fellow Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot begins the defence of his Diamond League trophy in the 1500m.

Other reigning Diamond League champions who will be looking for early points include Dalilah Muhammad, the women’s 400m hurdles champion making her first Shanghai appearance since 2015, and Mariya Lasitskene, the world indoor and outdoor high jump champion, who set a Diamond League record of 2.06m in Lausanne last year before winning the trophy in Brussels.

Colombia’s Olympic champion Caterine Ibarguen will be looking for a winning return to Shanghai after she won the women’s triple jump here in 2013 and 2015. As will Luvo Manyonga, the South African who leapt to a Diamond League and African record of 8.61m to take maximum points in the long jump last May before going to win the world title and Diamond trophy in August.

Manyonga will face China’s newly minted Asian indoor champion, Shi Yuhao, while Sam Kendricks, another of last year’s world and Diamond League champions, takes on the host nation’s World Championship fourth placer, Xue Changrui, in the men’s pole vault. Like McLeod, Kendricks is seeking a Shanghai hat-trick after beating world record holder Renaud Lavillenie with a vault of 5.88m 12 months ago.

Chinese stars will also feature heavily in the women’s throws, not least world and Diamond League champion, Gong Lijiao, who hopes to repeat her season-boosting shot put victory from 12 months ago. Lyu Huihui will also have high hopes in the javelin after breaking the Asian record in qualifying at the London Worlds before bagging bronze in the final.

More big names will be announced in the next few weeks. The 2018 Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 12 May will include 16 events, eight for men (100m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 110m hurdles, pole vault, long jump) and eight for women (200m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, 3000m steeplechase, high jump, triple jump, shot put, javelin).