Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce clocks a world lead of 10.93 at the Shanghai Diamond League (© Jiro Mochizuki)
Nine world champions and four Olympic gold medallists are among the galaxy of international track and field stars announced on Wednesday (16) for the 2014 Shanghai IAAF Diamond League on 18 May, the 10th anniversary of China’s leading international athletics meeting.
Triple world sprint champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce tops a list of headline names that includes world hurdles champions David Oliver and Jehue Gordon, middle-distance gold medallists Mohamed Aman and Abeba Aregawi, world and Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic, and Moscow shot put champion David Storl.
Other world champions on the Shanghai roster are 3000m steeplechase champion Milcah Chemos, and pole vaulter Raphael Holzdeppe, while triple jumper Christian Taylor is one of four Olympic champions in the glowing line-up.
Most eyes will be drawn to Fraser-Pryce, however, as the 27-year-old tests her early season form over 200m at the meeting where she was an impressive winner of the 100m 12 months ago.
The Jamaican produced her first sub-11-second time of the year in Shanghai last May to take an early lead on the world season lists. She went on to dominate the 2013 outdoor season, winning three gold medals at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, dipping under 11 seconds eight times, and winning the Diamond Races at both 100m and 200m.
She returns to China this year full of confidence after moving on to the boards to take her first ever world indoor title over 60m in Sopot last month. The two-time Olympic 100m champion now owns six world gold medals in total and shows no sign of slowing down as she begins her quest for 2014 Diamond League points.
Oliver returned to form in 2013, winning his first world title in Moscow to go with bronze medals from previous Olympic Games and World Indoor Championships. The US sprint hurdler won nine races last season although he could only finish fourth in Shanghai after placing second in 2012 and 2011, a record he will be keen to put right this time as he seeks to repeat his one victory here from four years ago.
Gordon makes his Shanghai debut nine months after breaking the Trinidad and Tobago 400m hurdles record in Moscow where he added his first world senior title to the world junior gold he won in 2010. The 22-year-old had Diamond League victories in Monaco and Brussels last summer and will want to start his 2014 season in similar winning form.
With Kenya’s David Rudisha sidelined through injury, Aman emerged as the man to beat over 800m last year. The Ethiopian won nine out of 10 outdoor races and finished his Diamond League season by breaking his own national record in Brussels.
Aregawi was equally dominant at her specialist distance, as she went unbeaten in 13 1500m races indoors and out, and broke Swedish records both on the boards and outside.
Both athletes added world indoor titles to their Moscow golds this year when they produced dominant victories in Sopot after breaking their respective area records earlier in the indoor season. This will be Aman’s first appearance in Shanghai, while Aregawi raced here two years ago when she was second behind Genzebe Dibaba as both ran faster than four minutes.
No athlete had a better Diamond League season in 2013 than Perkovic as the Croatian collected maximum points from an unbeaten run, matched only by the Czech Republic’s 400m hurdler Zuzana Hejnova. The 23-year-old set a national record when she won here two years ago. With another Croatian record already in the bag this year, she looks set to continue in winning vein in 2014.
A trio of double global champions highlight the men’s shot put. Two-time world shot put champion David Storl will face double world indoor champion Ryan Whiting and Poland’s Tomasz Majewski, winner of the past two Olympic titles.
Chemos’s victory in Moscow was a welcome change after two world bronze medals and the Kenyan will be seeking a winning start to her 2014 season in Shanghai where she triumphed two years ago having been second in 2010.
Holzdeppe will renew his rivalry with Renaud Lavillenie, knowing he’ll have to be at his very best following the Frenchman’s stunning world record in Donetsk this February. The German, a surprise winner of the Moscow world title, has not competed in Shanghai before.
Taylor missed out on Moscow gold when he could only finish fourth at the World Championships, having won the Olympic title in London two years ago. He was third in Shanghai that year, a result he will hope to improve on 18 May as he joins the hunt for Diamond prizes.
The 2014 Shanghai Diamond League meeting will include 16 events, nine for men (100m, 800m, 5000m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, pole vault, triple jump, shot put, javelin) and seven for women (200m, 400m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, high jump, long jump, discus).
Organisers for the IAAF
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2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep