Previews06 Sep 2021

Seven Diamond League champions to be crowned on Zurich's Sechselautenplatz


Ryan Crouser competes at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Lausanne (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)

After 11 meetings throughout the 2021 season it all comes down to one action-packed final, with 32 Wanda Diamond League champions to be crowned at the Weltklasse Zurich meeting in Switzerland. Expect fireworks.

On Wednesday and Thursday (8-9), world record-holders, Olympic champions, major medallists and breakthrough stars will be among those looking to cap their summers with victory in Zurich, where they will compete for not only a Diamond Trophy and the top $30,000 prize, but also a wildcard entry to the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

The programme starts with Wednesday’s street action, as seven finals are staged on Sechselautenplatz – one of the city’s most famous squares on the shore of Lake Zurich. A 560m-long temporary track and arena will host both 5000m finals, long jump and shot put competitions, plus the women’s high jump contest, and welcome almost 2500 fans. The next day, a further 25 finals will take place at the Letzigrund Stadium in front of a 20,000-strong crowd.

With so much in store, the first part of our preview looks at the first seven finals, to be contested on Sechselautenplatz on Wednesday. Times stated are local time (CEST) on Wednesday (8) and are subject to change. 

Clash of the titans

Men’s shot put, 4:55pm

All throws and horizonal jumps finals will see the men’s and women’s contests combined and they will not make use of the final three competition format. Up first is the shot put.

In the men’s event, the top three are back and ready to battle again, with the USA’s world record-holder and Olympic champion Ryan Crouser joined by his compatriot Joe Kovacs, the Olympic silver medallist and world champion, and New Zealand’s world and Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh.

Crouser threw his world record-breaking 23.37m at the US Olympic Trials and went on to get gold in Tokyo with an Olympic record of 23.30m following the greatest series in shot put history. He also improved the Diamond League record to 23.15m in Eugene last month. Could further records be on the cards in Zurich? Joining them in the field will be Olympic finalists Zane Weir of Italy and Armin Sinancevic of Serbia, plus Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic.

Dongmo leads contenders to join exclusive list

Women’s shot put, 4:55pm

In the women’s shot put final, Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo has the opportunity to build on her fourth-place finish in the Olympics and become only the fourth athlete to win the women’s shot put Diamond Trophy, with Valerie Adams having claimed the crown six times, Gong Lijiao having gained a treble of titles and Christina Schwanitz also having won once.

That trio does not feature in the final in Zurich but going up against Dongmo, who leads the entries with her national record throw of 19.75m from June, will be the USA’s world finalists Maggie Ewen and Chase Ealey, Jamaica’s world silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd, Sweden’s Fanny Roos and Aliona Dubitskaya of Belarus.

Niyonsaba seeks further success

Women’s 5000m, 5:35pm

Led by Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, unprecedented depth saw the top seven athletes all finish inside 14:32 in the Brussels 5000m and in Zurich the top six all race again. In Brussels, Olympic 10,000m fifth-placer Niyonsaba, who was disqualified from her 5000m heat in Tokyo, clocked a national record of 14:25.34 to finish ahead of Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye (14:25.63), Kenya’s two-time world gold medallist Hellen Obiri (14:26.23) and Kenya’s world silver medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi (14:27.12). Six days earlier Niyonsaba had won the Paris 3000m in 8:19.08 to move to fifth on the world all-time list, with Taye moving to No.6 with 8:19.52.

Among those joining that quartet in Zurich will be Kenya’s 2018 world U20 champion Beatrice Chebet, Doha Diamond League winner Eva Cherono and Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, plus Ethiopia’s Fantu Worku and the USA’s Elise Cranny.

Top trio highlight women’s high jump

Women’s high jump, 5:50pm

The three Olympic medallists all meet again as champion Mariya Lasitskene goes up against Australia’s runner-up Nicola McDermott and Ukraine’s bronze medallist Yaroslava Mahuchikh. Making the clash even more highly anticipated is the fact that they have each secured one Diamond League win since the Olympics – Lasitskene’s coming in Lausanne, McDermott’s in Paris and Mahuchikh’s in Brussels. They are also separated by just 2cm this season, with authorised neutral athlete Lasitskene setting a world lead of 2.04m to win in Tokyo, Mahuchikh having cleared 2.03m in Stockholm and McDermott an Oceanian record of 2.02m in Tokyo.

Lasitskene has claimed four Diamond Trophies during her career so far, while two-time world champion Blanka Vlasic is another multiple winner and she gave McDermott some advice following the Brussels meeting, where the Croatian high jump great was inducted into the Memorial Van Damme Hall of Fame. “She told me that I should try to attack my jump more aggressively in order to jump higher,” said the Australian. “I really appreciate her advice because she was and still is my biggest inspiration.”

Alongside Lasitskene, McDermott and Mahuchikh, the final will feature Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, Ukraine’s Iryna Gerashchenko and Australia’s Eleanor Patterson.

Home support for Ehammer

Men’s long jump, 6:00pm 

With respective PBs of 8.27m and 8.26m set this season, Sweden’s two-time European indoor silver medallist Thobias Montler, who finished seventh in Tokyo, and the USA’s Steffin McCarter lead the entries for the men’s long jump final. Swiss decathlete Simon Ehammer will be hoping to make the most of the home support, to build on his long jump win at the European U23 Championships with a leap of 8.10m.

South Africa’s 2017 world bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai, Italy’s Filippo Randazzo, Czech Republic’s Radek Juska and Switzerland’s Benjamin Gfohler complete the field.

Mihambo defends long jump crown

Women’s long jump, 6:00pm 

Malaika Mihambo won a close women’s long jump final in Tokyo and now the Olympic champion will be looking to retain her Diamond League crown.

She won’t have it all her own way, though, with the field also featuring Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who finished fourth in Tokyo but has won five of her seven competitions this summer, including at Diamond League meetings in Florence, Stockholm and Lausanne. Her season’s best of 7.00m matches Mihambo’s and they lead the entries for a final in which they will go up against Ukarine’s world silver medallist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova of Belarus, Sweden’s Khaddi Sagnia and Britain’s Jazmin Sawyers. 

Kejelcha returns for 5000m

Men’s 5000m, 7:10pm

Ethiopia’s two-time world indoor 3000m champion Yomif Kejelcha returns to 5000m action for the first time this season following his eighth place in the Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo. He has raced just four times this year, with one of those being his 3000m win at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo where he clocked 7:26.25 to move to seventh on the world all-time list for the distance outdoors and third on the Ethiopian all-time rankings.

Kenya’s Nicholas Kimeli and Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi just missed out on the medals in Tokyo, finishing fourth in the 5000m and 10,000m respectively, and they will be looking to build on those performances as part of a field which also includes Bahrain’s Olympic 5000m sixth-placer Birhanu Balew and Britain’s Andrew Butchart.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics