Beatrice Chebet, Sifan Hassan and Gudaf Tsegay
As the last stop on the Wanda Diamond League before the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, it’s no wonder so many of the sport’s big stars are heading to the British capital for the London Athletics Meet on Sunday (21).
Every discipline boasts either a world or Olympic champion or a past winner of a global title of some sort. And most events feature a clash between several of those, perhaps the most enthralling battle being the women’s 5000m, where the Olympic, world and Diamond League champions will collide.
Sifan Hassan is the Olympic champion at that distance – and at the 10,000m. The Dutch runner is undefeated across four distances this year, having won over 5000m in Portland last month, and prior to that winning both the 10,000m and 1500m on successive days at the FBK Games in early June.
Not forgetting, of course, that her last appearance in London was a triumphant one, as she won the London Marathon in April on her debut at the distance, clocking 2:18:33.
But Sunday’s race could be her toughest test of the year so far as she’ll take on world champion Gudaf Tsegay and world cross-country champion Beatrice Chebet, winner of the 5000m at last year’s Diamond League Final, the African Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
Like Hassan, Tsegay is also undefeated this year. The Ethiopian enjoyed a stunning indoor campaign, clocking world-leading times at 1500m, 3000m and the mile. She has raced twice outdoors so far, winning the 1500m in Rabat in 3:54.03 and the 10,000m at Ethiopia’s World Trials in a PB of 29:29.73.
But Chebet is also a formidable contender. Following her well-timed triumph at the World Cross in February, the Kenyan won the 5000m at the Kip Keino Classic in May, the 3000m at the Bislett Games in Oslo in a world-leading 8:25.01, and the 5000m at the Bauhaus Galan in Stockholm in 14:36.52.
All three of these global champions would have watched with interest as Faith Kipyegon broke the world record for this distance in Paris last month. But while all three have the potential to challenge that mark of 14:05.20, their focus in London will be to get one up on their rivals ahead of next month’s World Championships.
They aren’t the only global champions in the field, either. The line-up also includes four highly promising Ethiopians who have won medals at the World U20 Championships in recent years.
World U20 1500m champion Birke Haylom will be making her 5000m debut in London. The 17-year-old has shown incredible form at her specialist discipline this season, breaking Kipyegon’s African U20 record with 3:54.93, and clocking a world U20 mile record of 4:17.13.
She will be joined by world U20 5000m champion Medina Eisa, 2021 world U20 5000m champion Mizan Alem, who clocked a 10,000m PB of 29:59.03 earlier this year, and triple world U20 medallist Melknat Wudu.
Other contenders include USA’s Alicia Monson and Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal.
Crouser and Moon lead loaded field events
Shot putter Ryan Crouser and pole vaulter Katie Moon, the world and Olympic champions in their respective disciplines, are among the star names in the field events. Competition will be fierce, too, as both disciplines feature the top eight athletes in the world rankings.
Crouser, who extended his own world record to 23.56m in May, is undefeated so far this year. The US thrower’s shortest winning distance came in Lausanne, where his 22.29m heave was still enough to win by 30 centimetres. More recently he won in Silesia (22.55m) and Szekesfehervar (22.51m).
Ryan Crouser (© Errol Anderson)
He’ll take on two-time world champion Joe Kovacs, 2017 world champion Tom Walsh, USA’s Payton Otterdahl and New Zealand’s Jacko Gill.
Like Crouser, Moon has been the clear No.1 in her event this year. She held the world-leading mark indoors (4.83m) then continued that momentum outdoors, winning in Doha (4.81m), Florence (4.71m) and Lausanne (4.82m) before taking the US title with a world-leading 4.90m.
The world’s best athletes in the women’s pole vault never shy away from competing against each other, and London will be no different as world indoor champion Sandi Morris, world bronze medallist Nina Kennedy, European champion Wilma Murto, 2016 Olympic champion Katarina Stefanidi and world indoor bronze medallist Tina Sutej are all set to compete.
Kristjan Ceh, Daniel Stahl and Andrius Gudzius – the three men who, between them, have won the past four global titles – will clash in the discus. Ceh, who leads this year’s world list with 71.86m, was beaten into third place earlier this week in Szekesfehervar, where Stahl won (68.98m) ahead of Gudzius (67.66m).
Mutaz Barshim enjoyed a confidence-boosting victory in Silesia last weekend ahead of the defence of his world high jump title in Budapest next month. The Olympic champion from Qatar cleared a world-leading 2.36m, pushed by the improvement of Tobias Potye, who cleared 2.34m. Both men will clash again in London, along with USA’s JuVaughn Harrison and Australia’s Joel Baden.
Qatari high jumper Mutaz Barshim (© Getty Images)
Elsewhere in the field events, US champion Tara Davis-Woodhall will face world indoor champion Ivana Vuleta, world finalist Quanesha Burks and European indoor champion Jazmin Sawyers in the long jump.
Richardson v Jackson – take three
World 200m champion Shericka Jackson and US champion Sha’Carri Richardson will lock horns over 100m for the third time this year.
They clashed in Doha at the start of the season with Richardson winning comfortably on that occasion, clocking 10.76 to Jackson’s 10.85.
But their race in Silesia last weekend was a lot closer; Richardson once again clocked 10.76, but this time she won by 0.02, passing her Jamaican rival just metres before the finish.
Their career head-to-head record now stands at three wins apiece, so Sunday’s race will be something of a decider.
Sha'Carri Richardson wins the 100m ahead of Shericka Jackson and Dina Asher-Smith at the Doha Diamond League (© AFP / Getty Images)
Marie-Josee Ta Lou will also be one to watch, having won in Oslo (10.75) and Lausanne (10.88) last month. US indoor champion Aleia Hobbs and British duo Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita add further quality to the field.
Two-time world 200m champion Noah Lyles contests his specialist distance in London, looking to extend a winning streak that goes back to August 2021. He’ll take on world 100m leader Zharnel Hughes, who clocked a slightly wind-assisted 19.77 to win the British 200m title earlier this month, as well as Botswana’s Letsile Tobogo and Alexander Ogando of the Dominican Republic.
World record-holder Wayde van Niekerk will start as favourite for the men’s 400m. The South African appears to be approaching the kind of form that carried him to world and Olympic titles a few years ago. He recently won in Silesia in 44.08, his fastest time since winning the 2017 world title on the same track he’ll be racing on this weekend.
Bryce Deadmon, Vernon Norwood and Ryan Willie form a strong US challenge, while European champion Matt Hudson-Smith carries British hopes.
South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk (© Getty Images)
World champion Grant Holloway takes on Olympic champion Hansle Parchment of Jamaica in the 110m hurdles. Three other US athletes with PBs of 13.00 – Daniel Roberts, Trey Cunningham and Freddie Crittenden – are also in the field, as is Japanese record-holder Shunsuke Izumiya.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, world leader Femke Bol takes on US champion Shamier Little, Commonwealth champion Janieve Russell and Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton.
Hodgkinson aims to end on a high
The women’s 800m is the last event on the programme, so organisers and fans will be hopeful for a home victory from Keely Hodgkinson.
Following a superb indoor season, the world and Olympic silver medallist opened her outdoor campaign in Paris last month, where she clocked a world-leading 1:55.77, breaking her own British record.
Three weeks later, she was beaten in Lausanne by Kenyan rival Mary Moraa, but since then Hodgkinson has won the British 800m title in 1:58.26 and worked on her speed at the European U23 Championships, where she took bronze in the 400m in a PB of 51.76.
Keely Hodgkinson in Paris (© Getty Images)
The 21-year-old returns to her main event in London and takes on 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi, Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin, Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji, Australia’s Catriona Bisset, Olympic finalist Jemma Reekie and world finalist Anita Horvat.
Elsewhere on the track, world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech faces fellow Kenyan Jackline Chepkoech and Ethiopia’s Zerfe Wondemagegn in the women’s steeplechase. US champion Kristlin Gear and her compatriot Courtney Wayment are also in the field.
The men’s 1500m features six men who have broken 3:30 this year, led by 2019 world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, US champion Yared Nuguse and Commonwealth champion Ollie Hoare.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics