Previews24 Aug 2022

Clash of champions as global stars resume rivalries in Lausanne


Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wins in Lausanne from Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah (© Matt Quine)

With world titles won and continental crowns claimed, many of the sport’s stars will clash again at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne on Friday (26) as the Wanda Diamond League continues towards its crescendo.

Global gold medallists are among those heading to the Swiss city on the hunt for performances that will secure their spot in the Diamond League final back in Switzerland – at the Weltklasse meeting in Zurich – on 7-8 September.

The stacked fields feature 12 recently-crowned individual world champions, the same number of individual Olympic gold medallists from Tokyo and nine champions from last year’s Diamond League. There is incredible quality wherever you look, including Jakob Ingebrigtsen – fresh from another European 1500m and 5000m double – against Timothy Cheruiyot, Abel Kipsang and Oliver Hoare in the shorter event, and Sifan Hassan against Ejgayehu Taye, Laura Muir and Konstanze Klosterhalfen in the 3000m.

Sifan Hassan on her way to a mile win at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels

Sifan Hassan on her way to a mile win at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels (© AFP / Getty Images)

The women’s 100m is close to a re-run of the recent world final, with all three medallists – Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson and Elaine Thompson-Herah – challenging each other for the first time since Oregon as they seek points to qualify for the final. Also on the hunt are world finalists Mujinga Kambundji, Aleia Hobbs and Marie-Josee Ta Lou, plus USA’s 19-year-old Tamari Davis, who twice ran under the world U20 100m record in Memphis last month, clocking 10.87 and 10.83, and her compatriot Twanisha Terry.

It has been another phenomenal year for Fraser-Pryce, the 14-time global gold medallist, and it isn’t over yet. The 35-year-old won 100m gold and 200m silver in Oregon, and has dipped under 10.70 for the shorter distance a remarkable six times this season, topped by her 10.62 in Monaco earlier this month. In Lausanne she returns to the scene of her 10.60 PB set last year, a time that puts her third on the world all-time list behind Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 10.49 world record and the 10.54 run by treble Tokyo Olympic champion Thompson-Herah in Eugene last year. That Lausanne race was the last time Fraser-Pryce, Jackson and Thompson-Herah all clashed at a Diamond League meeting, with Fraser-Pryce winning ahead of Thompson-Herah (10.64) and Jackson (10.92).

"When I started the season I ran 10.6 in Kenya and I was shocked because I travelled all the way from Kingston and I was a bit tired, but then my execution was good," said Fraser-Pryce, speaking at the pre-event press conference in Lausanne. "I realised that the key to running fast and having consistent times is making sure that I practice my technique. To have that consistency is wonderful and it shows that hard work and staying true to your technique actually works. 

"I don’t think a perfect race exists, there is always something," she added, on what might be possible in future. "I want to have one of those races where everything works together. If I am able to fix or tweak a few things, I will definitely be able to run faster than 10.6.

"When you are in a race that is competitive, like the one we will have tomorrow, you know where you’re at and what your true potential is. You can’t take anything for granted – you have to show up and compete and the best person wins on the day."

Jackson, the world 200m winner with a best of 21.45 that makes her No.2 all-time for that distance, improved her 100m PB to 10.71 when finishing second behind Fraser-Pryce in Monaco to become the sixth-fastest ever women’s 100m runner. Thompson-Herah has clocked 10.79 this season and Ivory Coast’s Ta Lou 10.72, while Swiss star Kambundji returns to the track fresh from her 200m triumph at the European Championships.

There’s another fierce match up in the men’s 200m. After going 1-2-3 in Monaco, USA’s Noah Lyles will line up alongside his compatriots Erriyon Knighton and Michael Norman, looking to assert his dominance once again following his world title win on home soil in a PB of 19.31 – the fourth-fastest of all-time – and 19.46 win in Monaco. He has made no secret of the fact that Usain Bolt’s 19.19 world record is in his sights.

"I prepare for every track meet like I am going to try and break the world record," he said. "I don’t go into any race with any intention less than giving my best. It depends on how good training has been going and fortunately it has been going extremely well and I am super excited about tomorrow. I have been checking the weather and it has been looking good. If the wind is on my side, to be honest it could be a great day to run. I want a PR, let’s see if the wind lets me."

Noah Lyles races at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco

Noah Lyles races at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco (© Getty Images)

Lyles has some top-class competition as he makes another attempt at that time, world bronze medallist Knighton having run 19.49 in April and Norman dropping down to the half lap event again after his world 400m title win in Oregon. World indoor 400m and Commonwealth 200m champion Jereem Richards joins them on the start line, along with world fourth-place finisher Joseph Fahnbulleh.

As well as targeting Bolt's mark, Lyles also thinks another world record could be under threat in future.

Asked about Fraser-Pryce's 100m performances, Lyles replied: "I heard that she said that she wanted to break the world record this year and I was like yeah, I can see that.

"She has been consistently dropping 10.6 almost every race, and that is very scary. Any time you see somebody running almost exactly the same time every race, that means they are about to make a huge drop. It happened for me in the 2018 season, I ran 19.6 almost every race and I dropped it down to 19.5. This year I was in the area of 19.6 and 19.7 and all of a sudden I made the drop to 19.3. Elaine in 2021 was around 10.6 and then she dropped to 10.5. That wasn’t out of nowhere, that was consistently running the same pattern.

"When her body was ready and the wind was ready and the day was good – she was ready to go. I am waiting for Shelly to have that moment when her body is ready, the day is right, the crowd is there, the wind is perfect. I am not going to be shocked when that world record pops up or is right next to it, or maybe way ahead of it."

The world medallists clash in the 100m hurdles, Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan back in action after her world record and world title win in Oregon and her Commonwealth victory in Birmingham. The 25-year-old, who ran 12.12 in the World Championships semifinals, will be hoping for another strong run as she works towards a defence of her Diamond League title in Zurich. But with a field as strong as that in Lausanne, success is not a foregone conclusion, as she takes on Puerto Rico’s Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, world silver medallist Britany Anderson and former world record-holder Kendra Harrison, plus home star Ditaji Kambundji.

There’s another world and Olympic champion head-to-head in the 110m hurdles, where Oregon winner Grant Holloway – just 0.01 off the world record with his 12.81 PB in Eugene last year and with a best of 12.99 so far in 2022 – renews his rivalry with Jamaica’s Olympic gold medallist Hansle Parchment. When it comes to finals, they have raced each other twice, with one win apiece – Parchment winning at the Olympics but then being unable to race this year’s world final due to injury, and Holloway winning their recent clash in Monaco. Holloway’s compatriot Trey Cunningham, the world silver medallist, split the pair in Monaco and returns to the track in Lausanne, while Jamaica’s Rasheed Broadbell will hope to build on his recent Commonwealth Games victory and Jason Joseph will seek a strong run on home soil.

Despite racing, and winning, the 400m hurdles plus the 400m and 4x400m at the European Championships, there’s no rest for Netherlands’ Femke Bol as she takes on the two women who finished behind her in her specialist event in Munich – Ukraine’s Viktoriya Tkachuk and Anna Ryzhykova – plus USA’s 2019 world champion Dalilah Muhammad.

"I think I showed (in Munich) that I am still in shape, so that is good," said Bol, who hopes to retain her Diamond League title in Zurich. "Of course, I am a bit tired, but that is normal – sometimes you are a bit tired at the end of the season. Tomorrow is going to be a really nice race, also having Dalilah in it. I am excited to go out there. The crowd was amazing last year."

In the 400m, world medallists Marileidy Paulino and Sada Williams race Stephenie Ann McPherson, Candice McLeod and Natalia Kaczmarek.

Hassan returns, Ingebrigtsen back on the track

Dutch star Hassan has raced sparingly this year, following a full-on 2021 in which she won Olympic titles in the 5000m and 10,000m as well as bronze in the 1500m. The 29-year-old still finished fourth and sixth in the 10,000m and 5000m respectively in Oregon and now prepares to run her second Diamond League race of the season in Lausanne.

Lining up alongside her in the 3000m – an event in which she holds the European record at 8:18.49 and won in Silesia earlier this month in 8:39.27 – will be Ethiopia’s world 5km record-holder and world indoor 3000m bronze medallist Taye, plus Britain’s European and Commonwealth 1500m champion Muir, Germany's European 5000m champion Klosterhalfen, world 10,000m bronze medallist Margaret Kipkemboi, 2021 Diamond League winner Francine Niyonsaba, Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, Fantu Worku and Jessica Hull.

The men’s 1500m also looks set to be a thriller, as Olympic champion Ingebrigtsen has been added to the field to take on Australia’s newly-crowned Commonwealth champion Hoare and four-time Diamond League champion Cheruiyot, who was second behind Hoare in Birmingham and won the 2019 world title as well as Olympic silver in Tokyo, plus Stewart McSweyn, Josh Kerr and Kipsang.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen celebrates his Bowerman mile win in Eugene

Jakob Ingebrigtsen celebrates his Bowerman mile win in Eugene (© Diamond League AG)

Another global gold medallist stars in the men’s 3000m steeplechase in the form of Morocco’s Olympic and world title winner Soufiane El Bakkali.

World record-holders assemble

Mondo Duplantis, Yulimar Rojas and Ryan Crouser have taken their events to new levels in recent years and will hope to put on another show in Lausanne.

Duplantis will have a city centre stage on which to do it, with the non-Diamond League men’s pole vault competition held as a street event at Place de la Navigation in Ouchy on the eve of the main programme. The Swedish star, who took his world record to 6.21m to win the world title in Oregon, finished fourth in Lausanne last year, in a contest won by USA’s world silver medallist Chris Nilsen.

They go again in another world podium rematch alongside Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena, former world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie and world U20 champion Anthony Ammirati.

Rojas, who soared 15.74m for an outright world record to win her third world indoor title in Belgrade in March, jumped 15.47m to win her third world outdoor title in Oregon and then surpassed 15 metres again when winning with 15.01m in Monaco. She returns to the runway for her fourth triple jump competition of the season and will take on another 15 metre-plus jumper in Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, who improved to a PB of 15.02m to win the European title in Munich. Then there’s Jamaica’s two-time world silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts, fresh from Commonwealth gold in Birmingham, plus Tori Franklin, Thea LaFond and Patricia Mamona.

Yulimar Rojas competes at the Wanda Diamond League in Lausanne

Yulimar Rojas competes at the Wanda Diamond League in Lausanne (© AFP / Getty Images)

Crouser, meanwhile, finally got the world title he had been craving last month and the 23.37m world record-holder will look to carry his dominance through to Lausanne, where he competes against his compatriots and fellow medallists in Oregon Joe Kovacs and Josh Awotunde, plus 2017 world gold medallist Tom Walsh.

Qatar’s world champion Mutaz Barshim renews his high jump rivalry with his joint Olympic gold medallist Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and fellow world medallists Woo Sanghyeok and Andriy Protsenko, with Tamberi and Protsenko fresh from respective first- and third-place finishes at the European Championships.

The men’s javelin stars India’s Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra, who secured silver ahead of Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch in Oregon but missed the Commonwealth Games through injury, and they go up against 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott.

World U20 record-holder Wilma Murto improved the Finnish record to 4.85m to win the European pole vault title and she takes on silver and bronze medallists in Munich, Katerina Stefanidi and Tina Sutej, while the men’s triple jump features Jordan Alejandro Diaz Fortun, who leapt 17.87m in June, plus world indoor record-holder Hugues Fabrice Zango and four-time world champion Christian Taylor.

The Athletissima meeting was recently awarded the World Athletics Heritage Plaque to mark the Swiss event’s 45-year history.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics