Previews08 May 2024

Moraa, Chebet and Chopra among stars descending on Doha


Mary Moraa races in the Diamond League Final (© Matthew Quine for Diamond League AG)

The Doha Meeting welcomes many of the world’s best athletes for the third Wanda Diamond League event of the year on Friday (10), with some stars opening their seasons and other continuing their campaigns after the first two events in Xiamen and Suzhou.

Kenya’s world champion Mary Moraa won the Diamond League 800m title in 2022 and she will be seeking a strong start to her 2024 series as she competes at the Doha event for the first time.

After winning the African Games 400m title in March, Moraa made her 800m season debut at the Kip Keino Classic on home soil, winning in 1:57.96. Now she heads to Doha, where her competition includes Britain’s world indoor silver medallist Jemma Reekie and bronze medallist Noelie Yarigo of Benin, as well as Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi, Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin.

World indoor champion Freweyni Hailu is among those contesting the women’s 1500m, lining up alongside her Ethiopian compatriots Hirut Meshesha and Diribe Welteji, the world 1500m silver medallist who set a world record when winning the world road mile title in October. They are joined by Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir and Australia’s Jessica Hull.

In the men’s event, Kenya’s Olympic silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot races his first 1500m of the season against world bronze medallist Narve Gilje Nordas of Norway, two-time world indoor champion Samuel Tefera and world U20 champion Reynold Cheruiyot.

Two-time world 5000m medallist Beatrice Chebet, who won the world 5km title in October and then retained her world cross country crown in March, returns to track action for the first time since the Diamond League final in September. In that race, the 24-year-old clocked 14:05.92 – the third-fastest performance of all time – to finish second in a race won by Gudaf Tsegay in a world record 14:00.21.

She’ll want to pick up from where she left off as she races Ethiopia’s world U20 champion Medina Eisa and world 10,000m bronze medallist Ejgayehu Taye, plus Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka and Kenya’s Grace Loibach Nawowuna.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Olympic bronze medallist Benjamin Kigen takes on his compatriot Abraham Kibiwot, the world bronze medallist, and Ethiopia’s Olympic and world fourth-place finisher Getnet Wale.

From Nassau to Doha

Some of the sprinters who competed at the World Athletics Relays in The Bahamas over the weekend have made the trip to Doha, with Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek, Courtney Lindsey and Kyree King – who teamed up with treble world champion Noah Lyles to win the 4x100m in Nassau – clashing in the 200m. 

Joseph Fahnbulleh ran a storming anchor leg to clinch Liberia an Olympic 4x100m place at the World Athletics Relays and he also races in Doha, along with Aaron Brown, who helped Canada to second place in Nassau.

Britain’s Daryll Neita won the 200m in Suzhou and will be seeking a similarly strong performance as she makes her season debut in the 100m against Tamari Davis and Celera Barnes, who formed part of USA’s championship record-breaking team at the World Athletics Relays, plus Jamaica’s Olympic 4x100m gold medallist Natasha Morrison.

Olympic champion Steven Gardiner delighted the home crowd in Nassau as he helped the nation’s mixed 4x400m team to qualify for the Olympics and he runs the 400m in Doha against Botswana’s men’s 4x400m winners Bayapo Ndori and Leungo Scotch, Commonwealth Games champion Muzala Samukonga, who also raced in Nassau, plus USA’s Vernon Norwood and Quincy Hall.

In the men’s 400m hurdles, Brazil’s 2022 world champion Alison dos Santos races over the barriers for the first time since the Diamond League final last year. His rivals include CJ Allen, Yasmani Copello and Wilfried Happio.

After competing in both Xiamen and Suzhou, Alaysha Johnson continues her campaign in the 100m hurdles against her compatriot Tonea Marshall and world indoor 60m hurdles bronze medallist Pia Skrzyszowska.

Chopra launches into season

India’s world and Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra is among those competing for the first time in 2024, as he launches himself towards what he hopes will be a successful title defence at the Olympic Games in Paris in August.

After winning his world title in Budapest, Chopra finished second to Jakub Vadlejch at the Diamond League final in Eugene and ended his season with victory at the Asian Games.

Now he and Czechia’s Vadlejch – the Olympic silver medallist behind Chopra in Tokyo – clash again as Chopra looks to retain his Doha title and Vadlejch targets a successful start to his Diamond Trophy defence.

“This year, my personal goal is to retain my Olympic title, but it would also mean a lot to me to break the 90-metre barrier,” said Chopra, whose PB stands at 89.94m.

They will be joined by Grenada’s two-time world champion Anderson Peters, who finished third behind Chopra and Vadlejch in Doha last year, plus 2015 world champion Julius Yego and world finalist Oliver Helander.

The women’s pole vault features the indoor and outdoor world champions, as Australia’s Nina Kennedy opens her Diamond League campaign against Britain’s Molly Caudery, who competes for the first time since her world indoor triumph in Glasgow.

Four athletes with 2.00m-plus PBs clash in the women’s high jump, as Australia’s 2022 world champion Eleanor Patterson goes up against Ukraine’s Yuliia Levchenko and Iryna Gerashchenko, and Kazakhstan’s Nadezhda Dubovitskaya.

In the men’s long jump, world and Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece makes his Doha Diamond League debut as part of a field also featuring Carey McLeod, Tajay Gayle and Simon Ehammer.

The non-Diamond League men’s discus kicks off the field event action on Friday, with Matt Denny – who threw an Australian record of 69.35m to win the national title last month – facing Slovenia’s 2022 world champion Kristjan Ceh, making his season debut.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics