Previews14 Sep 2023

Kipyegon and Lyles among world champions in action on day one of Diamond League Final


Faith Kipyegon and Noah Lyles at the Prefontaine Classic (© Getty Images)

After 13 meetings from May to September, the final fields are now set as the Wanda Diamond League gets ready to crown its 2023 champions at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, this weekend (16-17).

The world’s best athletes – including Faith Kipyegon and Noah Lyles, both of whom won two individual titles in Budapest last month – head to Hayward Field looking to end their seasons on a high, but the athletes who missed out on top honours in the Hungarian capital will be out for revenge.

Diamond trophies and top $30,000 prizes are up for grabs in the 32 finals taking place across the two days of action. The first 15 finals – 12 of which contain newly crowned world champions – will be contested on Saturday (16) and the remaining 17 on Sunday (17).

The majority of athletes qualified for the finals by earning points at the 13 series meetings, while others have been entered as national or global wild cards.

The first day of action is previewed below, while the day two preview will be published tomorrow (Friday).

Times stated are local time (PDT) and are subject to change.

10:50 – women’s javelin

After throwing a world-leading national record of 67.38m to win in Brussels, world champion Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan said that 68 metres is her next target. And if recent major competitions are anything to go by, that could well happen in the final round.

Australia’s world bronze medallist Mackenzie Little, Austria’s Victoria Hudson and USA’s Maggie Malone are all displaying strong end-of-season form, so should pose the biggest threat to Kitaguchi.

10:55 – men’s high jump

In the absence of world champion Gianmarco Tamberi and Olympic champion Mutaz Barshim, USA’s world silver medallist JuVaughn Harrison starts as the favourite. But world indoor champion Woo Sanghyeok poses a threat, as does New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr.

11:06 – men’s triple jump

World champion Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso takes on defending Diamond League champion Andy Diaz of Italy. Diaz got the better of Zango in Xiamen two weeks ago, winning with 17.43m, and he hasn’t lost since the first Diamond League meeting of the season in Doha back in May.

12:04 – men’s 400m hurdles

World and Olympic champion Karsten Warholm suffered a rare defeat over 400m hurdles at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich last week, with world silver medallist Kyron McMaster winning by 0.03 in 47.27. The duo will renew their rivalry this weekend, along with USA’s Olympic silver medallist Rai Benjamin, who clocked 46.62 in Eugene earlier this year.

Kyron McMaster beats Karsten Warholm in Zurich

Kyron McMaster beats Karsten Warholm in Zurich (© Chiara Montesano)

12:16 – men’s 400m

World silver and bronze medallists Matthew Hudson-Smith and Quincy Hall take on defending Diamond League champion Kirani James over one lap of the track. But USA’s consistent Vernon Norwood and Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald could cause an upset.

12:20 – men’s javelin

World and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra hopes to successfully defend his Diamond League title in Eugene, but he will also have one eye on the 90-metre barrier, having come so close to it on several occasions now.

Multiple world and Olympic medallist Jakub Vadlejch will once again most likely be a threat, while two-time world champion Anderson Peters will aim to end a frustrating season on a high.

12:26 – women’s pole vault

On current form, very little separates USA’s Katie Moon and Australia’s Nina Kennedy – indeed, in Budapest they were quite literally inseparable and ended up sharing the gold medal. Moon is the Olympic champion, while Kennedy is the defending Diamond League champion. Kennedy got the upper hand in Zurich, which may fire up Moon as she competes on home soil.

World bronze medallist Wilma Murto of Finland is also one to watch, as are Slovenia’s Tina Sutej and USA’s Sandi Morris.

12:29 – women’s 3000m steeplechase

Measured by World Championships placings, the women’s steeplechase in Eugene is one of the highest quality events as it will reunite the top seven finishers from Budapest.

Winfred Yavi followed up her World Championships triumph with victory in Zurich, and here she’ll be looking for her first ever Diamond trophy. But world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech and her fellow Kenyans Faith Cherotich, the world bronze medallist, and Jackline Chepkoech will be tough to beat, so too will Ethiopia’s Zerfe Wondemagegn, and Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai of Uganda.

Winfred Yavi celebrates her 3000m steeplechase win at the Doha Diamond League

Winfred Yavi celebrates her 3000m steeplechase win at the Doha Diamond League (© Marise Nassour / Diamond League AG)

12:49 – women’s triple jump

The World Championships may not have been plain sailing for Yulimar Rojas, who managed to salvage gold on her final attempt in dramatic fashion, but the Venezuelan was back to her dominant best in Zurich at the end of August, winning with 15.15m.

Still, the close competition in Budapest will have given extra confidence to Rojas’s rivals. The likes of Leyanis Perez Hernandez of Cuba, Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts and Thea LaFond of Dominica could turn the tables with a surprise end-of-season victory of their own.

12:51 – women’s 1500m

Faith Kipyegon is undefeated this year and the Kenyan will want to maintain that record in Eugene. She will also want to extend her Pre Classic winning streak, having won there four times (2016, 2017, 2021 and 2022).

Returning to the scene of her 2022 world title, the multiple world record-holder is contesting just the 1500m this weekend, taking on a field that includes world silver medallist Diribe Welteji, Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir, Irish record-holder Ciara Mageean, talented Ethiopians Freweyni Hailu, Birke Haylom, Hirut Meshesha and Worknesh Mesele, as well as Australian duo Jess Hull and Linden Hall.

13:07 – men’s 100m

Noah Lyles is a man who has never been short of self-belief, and after winning three gold medals in Budapest his confidence is at an all-time high as he heads into what will be his first 100m race since the World Championships.

But there’s still little room for error in a field that includes world silver medallist Letsile Tebogo, world leader Christian Coleman, African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala, and Jamaican duo Kishane Thompson and Ackeem Blake – all of whom have season’s bests below 9.90.

13:11 – women’s shot put

Eugene’s Hayward Field has typically been a happy hunting ground for Chase Ealey. It’s where she set her lifetime best of 20.51m last year, and then one month later she won her first world title there.

She’ll return there this week, now as a two-time world champion, and will be keen to banish memories of her last outing there in July when she finished fourth at the US Championships. Canada’s Sarah Mitton, who finished second to Ealey in Budapest and Brussels, will once again provide stiff opposition, so too will world indoor champion Auriol Dongmo, USA’s Maggie Ewen and Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd.

US shot putter Chase Ealey in Brussels

US shot putter Chase Ealey in Brussels (© AFP / Getty Images)

13:19 – men’s 3000m steeplechase

In the absence of world champion Soufiane El Bakalli and world record-holder Lamecha Girma, this race presents a great opportunity for the rest of the world's best steeplechasers.

World bronze medallist Abraham Kibiwot will line up against New Zealand’s George Beamish, rising Kenyan talent Simon Kiprop Koech, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale and Japanese record-holder Ryuji Miura.

13:40 – women’s 100m

World champion Sha’Carri Richardson will take on world 200m champion Shericka Jackson in what will be their final 100m clash of the year.

Richardson has won all three of their 100m duels this year; in fact she has won all but one of her 100m races throughout the entire season. With the favourable sprint conditions witnessed in Eugene, she may even improve on her own world-leading 10.65.

Elaine Thompson-Herah, who holds the stadium record of 10.54, is rounding into good end-of-season form, while Marie-Josee Ta Lou is always a threat.

13:50 – men’s mile

As is tradition at the Prefontaine Classic, the Bowerman Mile is held in lieu of the men’s 1500m. Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, meeting record-holder at 3:47.24, is looking to become the first man to win three consecutive Bowerman Miles.

The Norwegian, who suffered another surprise 1500m defeat at the recent World Championships, is doubling up in Eugene and will contest the 3000m on Sunday, but his first task is in the shorter event where he’ll face compatriot Narve Gilje Nordas, who took bronze behind Ingebrigtsen in Budapest, Kenya’s Abel Kipsang, US champion Yared Nuguse, rising Dutch talent Niels Laros, Kenyan teenager Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot, Spain’s Mario Garcia, USA’s Cole Hocker and current world mile leader George Mills of Great Britain.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics