Allyson Felix gets her Samsung League campaign off with a narrow 400m victory in Doha (© Jiro Mochizuki)
Eight years after her debut appearance in the meeting, US sprinter Allyson Felix will be the main female attraction at the opening IAAF Diamond League meeting of 2013 in Doha on 10 May, organisers announced on Wednesday (10).
Felix, now 27, will race over 400m. She is not only the first reigning World Female Athlete of the Year to compete in Doha but she also holds the unprecedented record of having won 10 races in as many starts in Doha, during the last eight years.
“It is always nice to compete in Doha. I feel very comfortable in Qatar and in many ways it has started to feel like a home away from home. The people are so friendly, they are really supporting me and I can feel their love surrounding me.
“I am very proud of my 10-win streak. I am excited to go after another victory in Doha,” commented Felix.
“Allyson Felix is always most welcome in Doha. Her name is attached to Doha’s Grand Prix history with so many victories and meeting records to her tally. I couldn’t imagine the Diamond League in Doha without Allyson Felix being named among the participants,” said Qatar Athletics Federation chairman Dahlan Jumaan Al Hamad.
At the London 2012 Olympic Games last summer, Felix finally captured her first ever gold medal in an individual event, the 200m, after three gold medals as a member of US relay squads.
“Finally achieving my goal of Olympic gold has been a surreal feeling, I have been chasing that goal for so long that I had to regroup and look at my goals for the future.
“Since I have been back to training, I have realised that I love the feeling of gold and I am even more hungry to achieve it again,” added Felix.
Felix’s main rivals on the road to her 11th Doha victory will be Botswana’s reigning 400m World champion Amantle Montsho, Great Britain’s former Olympic and World champion, Christine Ohuruogu, who took silver in London, and Jamaica’s Beijing 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist Shericka Williams.
Local hero Barshim has high expectations
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim couldn’t have been left out of Doha’s Diamond League line-up this year and the 21-year-old high jumper is carrying Qatari hopes for a rare Diamond League win.
After last season’s Olympic Games bronze medal, and his Asian record of 2.39m in Lausanne, he knows that all eyes will be on him, not just in Doha but everywhere else around the world.
“Last season was pretty successful for me since I won an Olympic medal and I equalled the Asian record. If I stay healthy, and by working hard, I know I can jump higher and hopefully I will win a medal in Moscow at the World Championships.
“In all competitions I enter, I aim for victory. From what I can see, the world’s best athletes will come to Doha and I want to thank the organisers for setting up such a high standard competition because it will really help push myself to the limit," said Barshim, who will face the USA’s 2011 World champion Jesse Williams, Great Britain’s Robbie Grabarz, a 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist, and the outstanding Russian pair of Sergey Mudrov and Aleksey Dmitrik, the 2013 European indoor champion and 2011 World silver medallist respectively.
Barshim, who was third in the Doha meeting in 2011 but missed out on the 2012 edition due to injury, called on the residents of Doha to embrace the Diamond League and encourage all athletes to give their best.
“I want to invite everyone to come and watch closely the Doha 2013 Diamond League meeting. Very few cities around the world are privileged to host such a high class event.”
The family name of Barshim will appear twice on the start list as Mutaz’s younger brother Muamer, the 2012 Asian junior champion, will also compete.
The name of Kenya’s London 2012 Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, who set a memorable World record over two laps of the track in London, had been previously announced but now he knows that he will face his teenage countryman Timothy Kitum, who finished third in London, and Ethiopia’s 2012 World indoor champion Mohamed Aman.
Aman, the 2012 Diamond Trophy winner, is the only man to have defeated Rudisha, not once but twice, since the start of 2010.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League Calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep