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Next eventDiamond LeagueDoha 202213 May 2022

Previews07 Sep 2021

Top-quality clashes as athletes race for prizes and wildcard places in Zurich


(© Matt Quine)

It’s hard to know where to begin in previewing the second day of Weltklasse Zurich action, with 25 champions to be crowned  at the Wanda Diamond League final on Thursday (9).

After Wednesday’s street action on Sechselautenplatz, where seven finals will be contested, recent Olympic gold medal winners Sifan Hassan, Karsten Warholm, Faith Kipyegon, Andre De Grasse, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Jakob Ingebrigtsen will be among those looking to end their 2021 seasons on a high. As well as a Diamond Trophy and the top $30,000 prize on offer, athletes can also claim a wildcard entry to the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, so competition will be fierce.

With so many events to get excited about, here we focus on Thursday’s stadium track action, while field event finals are previewed here. The first part of our preview, looking ahead to Wednesday’s street events on Sechselautenplatz, is here.

Times stated are local time (CEST) on Thursday (9) and are subject to change.

Another opportunity for in-form Paulino 

Women’s 400m, 7:04pm

Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino has won both her Diamond League races during a breakthrough summer which also saw her secure Olympic silver. In the absence of Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who focused on the 200m throughout the season, Paulino looks to be the one to beat in Zurich.

The 24-year-old improved her PB to 49.20 to claim the runner-up spot in Tokyo and this time she will race against Barbadian Sada Williams, second behind Paulino in both Lausanne and Paris, plus Jamaica’s Olympic fourth-placer Stephenie Ann McPherson and Candice McLeod, Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands, Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek, the USA’s Quanera Hayes and Britain’s Jodie Williams.

James targets hat-trick

Men’s 400m, 7:15pm

After claiming a third Olympic podium place with 400m bronze in Tokyo to complete his medal set, Grenada’s Kirani James now has the chance to go for his third Diamond Trophy win. The Olympic gold medallist in 2012 and the 2016 runner-up, who was Diamond League champion in 2011 and 2015, has had a challenging few years on and off the track since then but made a world-class comeback in 2021 and will hope to end the year with success in Zurich. His best this year is the 43.88 he clocked in the Tokyo semifinals and James went on to run 44.19 in the final, just 0.02 ahead of the USA’s Michael Cherry.

Cherry turned the tables at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels, however, as he improved on a meeting record set by Michael Johnson to win in a PB of 44.03. There James was second, Botswana’s Isaac Makwala third, Liemarvin Bonevacia of the Netherlands fourth and Trinidad and Tobago’s Deon Lendore fifth, and all five athletes race again in Zurich.

Jeruto leads strong steeplechase

Women’s 3000m steeplechase, 7:26pm 

All eyes are sure to be on Kenya’s Norah Jeruto as she returns to the track for the first time since her Eugene Diamond League win in 8:53.65 – a time which puts her third on the world all-time list. There she beat a field which included all three Olympic medallists – champion Peruth Chemutai of Uganda, the USA’s Courtney Frerichs and Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng – and they will all compete again in Zurich. Frerichs was second in Eugene, where she improved the area record with 8:57.77 to put her No.4 on the world all-time list.

Kenya’s Celliphine Chespol is the world U20 record-holder thanks to her 8:58.78 from 2017 and she is also in the field, having run 9:07.07 this year, along with Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, Germany’s Gesa Felicitas Krause, Ethiopia’s Mekides Abebe and Kenya’s Purity Kirui.

A close contest 

Women’s 100m hurdles, 7:46pm

In the Olympic final it was Jamaica’s Megan Tapper who pipped Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan and Nadine Visser of the Netherlands to claim the bronze medal but one month later at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels, Visser got the win as she finished just eight thousandths of a second ahead of Amusan, with Tapper third. That trio will now compete for the Diamond Trophy, going up against Jamaica’s defending champion Danielle Williams, the 2015 world gold medallist who won the Diamond League meeting in Paris.

Like Tapper, Britain’s Cindy Sember and the USA’s Gabbi Cunningham have both clocked season's bests of 12.53 and joining them in the final are the USA’s Payton Chadwick, Hungary’s Luca Kozak and Switzerland’s Ditaji Kambundji, the younger sister of world 200m bronze medallist Mujinga, who will be looking to rebound from the disappointment of falling in the world U20 final in Nairobi.

Parchment the fastest on paper

Men’s 110m hurdles, 7:58pm

This also looks set to be a competitive final, with each of the four Diamond League qualifying races having been won by a different athlete and the entry list led by the Jamaican duo of Olympic champion Hansle Parchment and bronze medallist Ronald Levy. Parchment clocked 13.04 to win in Tokyo and although having to settle for eighth at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, he rebounded to claim victory in Paris and then again secured success at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Chorzow.

The USA’s Devon Allen said that with his win in Lausanne he had “kind of redeemed” himself after his Olympic fourth-place finish and he will be looking to take another step forward as he also goes up against his compatriot Daniel Roberts and home favourite Jason Joseph.

Kipyegon vs Hassan in 1500m thriller

Women’s 1500m, 8:06pm

What a race in prospect. Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, the two-time Olympic 1500m champion, against the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan, the Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion who also claimed 1500m bronze in Tokyo. Straight after her mile win in Brussels, Hassan confirmed that having been left understandably tired after Tokyo, she would be focusing on the shorter distances for the rest of the season, and that sets up a mouthwatering clash with Kipyegon, who won the 1500m in Eugene after her second Olympic triumph and races for the first time since then in Zurich.

Hassan, meanwhile, won the 5000m in Eugene before her victory in Brussels, where the world mile record-holder broke Kipyegon's meeting record. Hassan is a two-time Diamond Trophy winner in the event and in 2019, when she won her second crown, she also won the 5000m, while Kipyegon will be looking to regain a title she first won in 2017. Their outdoor 1500m head-to-head record which dates back to 2014 is also tantalisingly close and stands at 9-8 in Hassan's favour.

The pair are among five entered athletes to have dipped under four minutes in the event so far this year, with the USA’s Josette Norris, Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo and Australia’s Linden Hall also having broken that barrier. Hall was second in both Eugene and Lausanne and then broke the area mile record to finish third in Brussels behind Hassan and Ethiopia's Axumawit Embaye.

Ingebrigtsen vs Cheruiyot

Men’s 1500m, 8:17pm

After deciding against racing the 5000m final on Sechselautenplatz the day before, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen will contest the 1500m – the event in which he claimed gold in Tokyo in an Olympic record-breaking time. It’s another high-class clash, as the 20-year-old takes on Kenya’s world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, who he beat to gold in Tokyo, along with Olympic fourth-placer Abel Kipsang of Kenya.

There’s also Oceanian record-holder Stewart McSweyn and Oliver Hoare, who claimed an Australian 1-2 in Brussels, and Spain’s Mohamed Katir, who broke through to triumph in both Gateshead races ­– over 3000m and 5000m – and went into the Olympic 5000m as one of the favourites but will be looking to rebound after his eighth-place finish there as he drops back down in distance.

Thompson-Herah headlines

Women’s 100m, 8:29pm

Jamaican sprint queens Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce have rewritten the world 100m all-time list this season, between them running five of the nine fastest wind-legal performances in history. Thompson-Herah, who won an Olympic treble in Tokyo, has the edge with her remarkable 10.54 – just 0.05 off Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 1988 world record – set at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene, and she also clocked 10.61 in Tokyo and 10.64 in Lausanne. Now she’s back on the track for the Diamond League final.

Fraser-Pryce appears to have decided against racing in Zurich but that’s not to say Thompson-Herah will be taking things easy as she lines up alongside Ivorian Olympic fourth-placer Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Britain’s world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith, who continues her season after injury affected her ambitions for Tokyo. In a field full of sub-11-second sprinters, they will be joined by the USA’s Javianne Oliver, Britain’s Daryll Neita and Swiss stars Ajla Del Ponte and Mujinga Kambundji, with Asher-Smith, Ta Lou and Kambundji set to double up in the 200m final 75 minutes later.

Double aim for De Grasse and Kerley

Men’s 100m, 8:38pm

Time and time again Canada’s Andre De Grasse has shown his ability to double up, with three sets of global 100m and 200m medals to prove it, and in Zurich he looks set to take on the challenge once more as he is entered for both sprint finals. After claiming Olympic 100m bronze in Tokyo, the 10-time global medallist returned to win the 200m, gaining his first Olympic gold, with 4x100m bronze rounding out his campaign. First up for him in Zurich will be the 100m.

Another versatile sprinter is the USA’s Fred Kerley and fresh from making history by becoming the first man to win 100m, 200m and 400m races in the Diamond League, the Olympic 100m silver medallist will also contest the two shortest sprints. In Brussels he clocked 9.94 to hold off his compatriot and the world leader with 9.77, Trayvon Bromell, and they both race in in Zurich, with Kerley’s motivation remaining high. “I'm happy with the win, but I'm not satisfied with my race,” he said in Brussels. “I didn't execute the race how I wanted. That gives me working points because I always want to be better.”

The quality doesn’t end there, with the field also featuring South Africa’s Akani Simbine and the USA’s Ronnie Baker, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in the Olympic 100m final.

El Bakkali is back

Men’s 3000m steeplechase, 8:46pm

Soufiane El Bakkali gained gold in Tokyo, becoming Morocco’s first Olympic champion for 17 years, but in his next race, in Paris, he collided with the first barrier and was unable to continue. He returns to race in Zurich, where the two-time world medallist will again meet Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma and Kenya’s world leader with 8:07.12 Benjamin Kigen, who claimed silver and bronze respectively behind him in Tokyo, as well as Ethiopia’s Olympic fourth-placer Getnet Wale, Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot and Leonard Bett, the USA’s Hillary Bor, Ethiopia’s Tadese Takele and Italy’s Ahmed Abdelwahed.

Athletes ready for two-lap test

Women’s 800m, 9:03pm 

She may have won her first Diamond League race in Brussels, but Jamaica’s Natoya Goule is under no illusions as to the task she will face on Thursday. “I hope I can win in Zurich as well,” she said, “but it will be hard.” Running 1:58.09 there, she narrowly held off Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson and her British compatriot Jemma Reekie, who finished fourth at the Games, as Goule bounced back one month after her eighth-place finish in Tokyo.

The USA’s Kate Grace had her own fuel, having missing out on the Olympic team, and she rebounded with a win at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo, a PB of 1:57.20 set in Monaco and a mile win in Gateshead. Among the athletes joining that quartet in Zurich will be Ethiopia’s Olympic sixth-placer Habitam Alemu, Australia’s Catriona Bisset and Uganda’s world champion Halimah Nakaayi.

Korir and Rotich rematch

Men’s 800m, 9:13pm

In a tactical Olympic final, Emmanuel Korir led a Kenyan 1-2 ahead of Ferguson Rotich and the two athletes will go head-to-head once again in Zurich. Botswana’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos is the world leader thanks to his 1:42.91 win in Monaco, but that was the only Diamond League race he contested this season, and so Korir is quickest among the Zurich entries with his 1:43.04 for the runner-up spot in that race.

It has been a busy season for Rotich, who has raced at six of the seven qualification meetings, claiming a win in Stockholm and three other top two spots. Canada’s Marco Arop missed out on making the final in Tokyo but he bounced back with wins in Eugene and Lausanne, and was then third in a Paris race won by Kenya’s Wycliffe Kinyamal. Britain’s Elliot Giles, who moved to second on the world indoor all-time list with his 1:43.63 in February, will be looking for another strong run, as will US champion Clayton Murphy, his compatriot Isaiah Harris and Bosnian two-time world medallist Amel Tuka.

Breaking barriers

Women’s 400m hurdles, 9:25pm

The 400m hurdles has been taken to another level in 2021 and two athletes to have made serious strides in the women’s event are Dutch star Femke Bol and the USA’s Shamier Little. This year Bol has taken her PB from 53.79 to 52.03, a time which secured her Olympic bronze in a race won by Sydney McLaughlin in a world record of 51.46 ahead of Dalilah Muhammad’s 51.58, while Little has improved to 52.39, driven by the disappointment of missing out on the Olympic team. Bol and Little will both look to continue their strong seasons when they race in Zurich.

There they will line up alongside Jamaica’s Janieve Russell, Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova and Viktoriya Tkachuk, and Panama’s Gianna Woodruff, who all made the final in Tokyo, plus home favourite Lea Sprunger.

Warholm’s world 

Men’s 400m hurdles, 9:35pm

No words, just numbers: 45.94. Kevin Young's 46.78 had stood as the men’s world 400m hurdles record for almost 29 years before Karsten Warholm improved it to 46.70 at his home Diamond League meeting in Oslo. But Norway’s two-time world champion wasn’t done there. Winning the Olympic title in superb style, Warholm sliced another chunk off that mark, clocking 45.94 in Tokyo, and now he goes for his second Diamond Trophy. It will be his first 400m hurdles race since his Olympic win.

Warholm always puts on a show and joining him on the stage in Zurich will be Brazil’s 21-year-old Alison dos Santos, who has also made huge strides during this season and improved his area record to 46.72 when claiming Olympic bronze, plus Olympic finalists Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands, Turkey’s Yasmani Copello and Estonia’s Rasmus Magi.

Sprint showdown

Women’s 200m, 9:44pm

After her 100m Diamond Trophy defence, Britain’s world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith is set to return for the half-lap final where she will be joined by Ivorian sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji, who are also entered for the double. Asher-Smith was unable to attempt to add an Olympic 200m medal to her world crown due to injury before Tokyo but she returned with two 200m Diamond League third places in Eugene and Brussels, with those races won by Kambundji and Namibia’s 18-year-old Christine Mboma respectively.

Mboma, who has claimed Olympic silver as well as the world U20 title this year, leads the entries with her 21.81 world U20 record set in Tokyo, a time 0.01 faster than Jamaica’s Olympic 100m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson this season. Lining up alongside them will be Mboma’s compatriot Beatrice Masilingi, the two-time world U20 silver medallist, plus Asher-Smith’s fellow Briton Beth Dobbin and the USA’s Dezerea Bryant.

Diamonds for De Grasse?

Men’s 200m, 9:52pm

After multiple global medals, Canada’s Andre De Grasse got his gold in Tokyo when he won the 200m final in a PB of 19.62. After racing the 100m earlier in the evening, he leads the entry list for the half-lap event in Zurich, on the hunt for another triumph.

But Kenny Bednarek will also be looking to continue his incredible consistency and add to his record tally of sub-20-second 200m times with a fast final. With his 19.79 in Paris, the Olympic silver medallist became the first man to ever break 20 seconds 10 times in a single season, and given the field he is up against, he may well need the race of his life to take top spot. His US compatriot Fred Kerley, the Olympic 100m silver medallist, won in Paris after a photo finish as he also clocked 19.79, and that trio will go up against the USA’s Vernon Norwood and Josephus Lyles, Canada’s Aaron Brown and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics