Kerron Clement winning the 400m hurdles at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London (© Kirby Lee)
The 2016 IAAF Diamond League is heading into the decisive final stage. With ten of 14 meetings completed, the competition will take a short break for the next month during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
However, when the IAAF Diamond League returns in just under a month’s time, with the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne on 25 August, the stage will be set for a gripping climax in the various Diamond Race disciplines.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the men's high jump, where this year's Diamond Race has showcased the very best of a sparkling generation.
Bogdan Bondarenko currently leads with 26 points, but only 13 points separate him and sixth-placed Zhang Guowei. With 30 points still up for grabs, the likes of Erik Kynard, Mutaz Essa Barshim and Robbie Grabarz are still in the running.
Elsewhere, the 2016 Diamond Race has thrown up a myriad of nail-biting three-horse races.
Kerron Clement's victory in London on Saturday meant that he leapfrogged Michael Tinsley and Javier Culson to take a one-point lead in the men's 400m hurdles.
In the women's event meanwhile, just three points separates the top two, Eilidh Doyle and Cassandra Tate, with Janeive Russell also breathing down their necks.
The same goes for the 400m Diamond Races. Shaunae Miller leads in the women's event, pursued by Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Natasha Hastings, while two-time Diamond Race winner LaShawn Merritt is tied at the top with Wayde van Niekerk, in the men’s discipline, and just three points ahead of Isaac Makwala.
The Diamond Races in the javelin follow the same pattern, with Madara Palameika, Sunette Viljoen and Kathryn Mitchell battling it out in the women's event, while Jakub Vadlejch's London victory saw him put pressure on the top two of Thomas Röhler and Ihab Abdelrahman.
Duels to the finish
The 2016 Diamond Race has also thrown up some superb duels.
In the men's 800m, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse jumped to within four points of leader Ferguson Rotich with a win in London, while in the 1500m, Elijah Manangoi is still on the heels of his illustrious compatriot Asbel Kiprop after consistent podium finishes this season.
Tom Walsh's victory in Stockholm means he is only six points behind 2015 Diamond Race winner Joe Kovacs in the men's shot put, while Ruth Jebet and Hyvin Kiyeng remain deadlocked on 26 points and with two wins each in the women's 3000m steeplechase.
In the women's 5000m, even three wins for Almaz Ayana have not been enough to push her more than six points away from Mercy Cherono, who has been consistently gaining points despite not taking a single victory.
In the men's 110m hurdles, Orlando Ortega is now 10 points clear of early-season leader Omar McLeod.
The likes of Caster Semenya (800m), Alonso Edward (200m), Ivana Spanovic (long jump), Valerie Adams (shot put) and Caterine Ibargüen (triple jump) also currently have commanding advantages in their disciplines and can as good as clinch their Diamond Race if results go their way in Lausanne next month.
The same applies to Fatih Kipyegon (1500m), Ruth Beitia (high jump) and world record holder Kendra Harrison (100m hurdles) with respect to their disciplines in Paris on 27 August.
For Diamond Trophy holders Piotr Malachowski (discus) and Christian Taylor (triple jump), a win in their next Diamond Race appearance will suffice to defend their titles, assuming they also compete in their discipline’s final, regardless of where their competitors finish.
The same applies to Muktar Edris (5000m) and Dafne Schippers (200m), as they chase their first ever Diamond Trophies.
Schippers is not just the Diamond Race leader in the 200m, but also in the 100m. She is just two points ahead of Elaine Thompson in the latter sprint.
For Sandra Perkovic (discus), Conseslus Kipruto (3000m steeplechase) and Ekaterini Stefanidi (pole vault), the hard work has already been done. Even before Lausanne and Paris, Diamond Race glory is guaranteed for these three athletes providing they appear at the final.
Stefanidi has won four out of six rounds, while Perkovic and Kipruto have a perfect record in this season's Diamond Race.
IAAF Diamond League for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL