News30 Aug 2016

Who needs what in Zurich? – IAAF Diamond League


Thomas Rohler in action at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich (© Jean-Pierre Durand)

The IAAF Diamond League has reached the final hurdle. In the next two weeks, the Diamond Race will reach its conclusion at the finals in Zurich and Brussels.

It has been a thrilling journey thus far, and with just one more round and double points on offer, there is still much to fight for in the majority of Diamond Races. There are a total of 39 athletes able to win the Diamond Trophy in Zurich.

Five of those have effectively already earned the crown of Diamond Race winner this season, and are waiting only for their coronation. Renaud Lavillenie (pole vault), Dafne Schippers (200m), Kendra Harrison (100m hurdles), Ivana Spanovic (long jump) and Sandra Perkovic (discus) already have a lead of more than 20 points in their Diamond Races, meaning that they only need to compete in Zurich to win the Diamond Trophy.

For Lavillenie, it would be a seventh consecutive triumph, as he continues his brilliant record of winning the Diamond Race in every year since its inauguration. Spanovic, meanwhile, faces the honour of becoming the first Serbian athlete to win the competition.

Three other athletes have built up such significant leads that they seem unlikely not to win the Diamond Trophy in Zurich. LaShawn Merritt has a 12-point lead over closest pursuer Isaac Makwala in the 400m, meaning he needs only to finish in the top three to secure his third title.

Likewise, Diamond Trophy holders Ruth Beitia and Christian Taylor look likely to retain their titles, holding 14 and 16-point leads respectively over their nearest challengers. Taylor would have to finish fifth in the triple jump to give Alexis Copello a chance of winning the title, while Beitia would need to slump to sixth in the high jump to open the door for Levern Spencer.

In the women's 1500m Faith Kipyegon has eight points and one victory more than Laura Muir at this stage. She will stay top of the standings if she wins, but if Muir takes victory in Zurich, she would take home the Diamond Trophy. Even if Kipyegon were to finish second in Zurich, leaving both women on equal points and victories, Muir would triumph by virtue of having won the final.

The same applies to Muktar Edris and Yomif Kejelcha, who currently occupy the top two positions in the men's 5000m.

Kerron Clement's six-point lead over Javier Culson means that the Puerto Rican will have to win in Zurich to deny the Olympic Champion the Diamond Trophy in the 400m hurdles.

Men's javelin leader Thomas Rohler has seen his lead shortened to just four points after Jakub Vadlejch won in Paris, meaning victory for Vadlejch in Zurich would see him take the Diamond Trophy. If neither man wins on the night, Vadlejch could still claim the trophy by finishing second.

Ruth Jebet also has a four-point lead in the women's 3000m steeplechase since her world record-breaking run in Paris, which means she must hold off Hyvin Kiyeng to secure the Diamond Trophy.

Joe Kovacs, meanwhile, has slipped to four points behind Tom Walsh in the men's shot put, despite having one more victory to his name. That means that, unless Kovacs picks up at least four points more than Walsh in Zurich, the New Zealander will take home the trophy.

After his victory in Paris, Ben Youssef Meité holds a three-point lead over Mike Rodgers in the men's 100m.

The closest battle, though, is between Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba in the women's 800m. With just two points between them, whichever woman crosses the line first will win the Diamond Trophy. Unless, that is, neither athlete finishes in the top four, in which case the title will be Semenya's.