400m hurdler Sydney McLaughlin of the USA (© Getty Images)
With just over one year to go until the World Athletics Championships take place in Hungary for the first time, a galaxy of global stars are set to light up the Istvan Gyulai Memorial in Szekesfehervar on Monday (8).
The latest World Continental Tour Gold meeting will offer a tantalising glimpse for athletes and spectators alike on what next year’s showpiece event in nearby Budapest will bring.
In a line-up already teeming with the sport’s biggest names, USA’s 400m hurdles record-breaker Sydney McLaughlin was a late addition this week, bringing the number of gold medallists from the recent World Athletics Championships Oregon22 appearing at the meeting to 13.
There will be huge interest on McLaughlin – who turns 23 on Sunday, the day before the competition – in her first outing since her astonishing world record of 50.68 to win in Eugene. Fresh from winning Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham, Jamaica’s Janieve Russell is among her opposition.
Another trailblazing athlete set to compete is pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis. The world and Olympic champion continues his competitive campaign off the back of breaking the world record in Eugene as he builds towards the European Championships in Munich. World silver and bronze medallists Christopher Nilsen of the USA and Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines will also take to the runway in Szekesfehervar.
After setting a world-leading time of 10.66 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Selesia on Saturday, 10-times world gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce shows no signs of applying the brakes to her season. The jet-heeled Jamaican has world indoor champion Mujinga Kambundji and US duo Twanisha Terry and Tamari Davis – the second-fastest U20 athlete in history – among her opposition.
Fraser-Pryce’s teammate and fellow speed queen Shericka Jackson will be looking to harden her grip as the dominant 200m runner of the moment. Olympic bronze medallist Gabrielle Thomas is also in the line-up along with USA’s World Championships representatives Tamara Clark and Jenna Prandini.
There is an intriguing line up for the men’s 400m. World 400m hurdles champion Alison Dos Santos is a man in supreme form and confidence, and fresh off another victory at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Silesia, the Brazilian will test his speed on the flat against some formidable opposition, including Olympic fourth-place finisher Michael Cherry and World Championships fourth-place finisher Champion Allison, both of the USA.
In the field, the men’s discus provides an exciting match-up with newly crowned world champion Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia going up against Olympic champion Daniel Stahl of Sweden. Olympic silver medallist Simon Pettersson, who set a PB of 70.42m at the Swedish Championships on Saturday, is also in the field, meaning three members of the exclusive 70-metre club will be in attendance.
The men’s hammer offers up another clash of the champions with five-time world champion Pawel Fajdek going up against fellow Pole and Olympic gold medallist Wojciech Nowicki. Olympic silver medallist and world bronze medallist Eivind Henriksen of Norway will once again try to get the better of the Polish duo.
In the women’s hammer, world champion Brooke Andersen of the USA has to face the challenge of world bronze medallist Janee’ Kassanavoid and Olympic bronze medallist Malwina Kopron of Poland.
In the sprint hurdles, two-time world champion Grant Holloway of the USA and Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico head the line-ups in the men’s 110m and women’s 100m events respectively. Holloway will take on newly crowned Commonwealth champion Rasheed Broadbell, while Camacho-Quinn faces former world record-holder Kendra Harrison and 2019 world champion Nia Ali.
In the men’s short sprints, USA’s world silver and bronze medallists Trayvon Bromell and Marvin Bracy-Williams have past world champions Christian Coleman and Yohan Blake and three-time meeting winner Akani Simbine among their opposition in the 100m. In the 200m, meanwhile, Olympic and world silver medallist Kenny Bednarek and world bronze medallist Erryion Knighton will start as favourites.
Another top-quality line up is the men’s shot put, featuring recent world silver and bronze medallists Joe Kovacs and Josh Awotunde, plus 2017 world champion Tom Walsh of New Zealand. Croatia’s 2016 Olympic champion Sara Kolak heads the line up in the women’s javelin. She’ll face Cuban champion Yulenmis Aguilar and European U20 champion Elina Tzengko.
In the jumps, Olympic champion Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy is a star attraction in the men’s high jump, while 2017 European U20 champion Milica Gardasevic of Serbia and Agate de Sousa of Sao Tome and Principe are the leading contenders in the women’s long jump.
In the women’s 800m, Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji returns to her usual distance after an impressive victory over 1500m at the Diamond League meeting in Silesia. And in the men’s two-lap event, the home crowd will be hoping for a breakthrough for Hungary’s former hurdles specialist Daniel Huller.
The action gets underway at 12:45 local time at the meeting named in honour of Hungary’s much respected former sprinter, commentator and athletics official.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics