Previews07 Sep 2021

World records under threat, with Duplantis and Rojas in action in Zurich


Mondo Duplantis competes at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)

World record-holders Mondo Duplantis and Yulimar Rojas are among the athletes looking to cap their Olympic title-winning seasons with victory at the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday (9).

After Wednesday’s street action on Sechselautenplatz, where seven finals will be contested, the Weltklasse Zurich welcomes athletes to the Letzigrund Stadium where a further 25 champions will be crowned.

Not only is there a Diamond Trophy and top $30,000 prize up for grabs, but athletes can also win a wildcard entry to the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 with success in Switzerland. All throws and horizonal jumps finals in Zurich will see the men’s and women’s contests combined and they will not make use of the final three competition format. 

With so much top action in store, here we take a look ahead to Thursday’s stadium field action, with the track event finals previewed here. The first part of our preview, focusing on Wednesday’s street events on Sechselautenplatz, is here.

Times stated are local time (CEST) on Thursday (9) and are subject to change.

Nageotte looks for continued consistency

Women’s pole vault, 6:15pm

Katie Nageotte has become one of the world’s most consistent vaulters. As well as her Olympic win, the USA’s world leader has also triumphed at each of the three Diamond League meetings she has contested this year – in Doha, Monaco and Eugene. She will be looking to continue that run of form in Zurich, when she goes up against her two fellow Tokyo medallists – authorised neutral athlete Anzhelika Sidorova and Britain’s Holly Bradshaw, who are both within five centimetres of her world-leading 4.95m from the US Trials.

The field boasts another major gold medallist in Greek 2016 Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi, and features Iryna Zhuk of Belarus and Slovenia's Tina Sutej.

Perkovic targets seventh Diamond Trophy

Women’s discus, 6:20pm

Fresh from their contest at the Brussels meeting, where they competed in the first ever Diamond League discipline to be held on parkland, Zurich will welcome Cuba’s winner there, Yaime Perez, plus the USA’s Valarie Allman and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic, as they aim for series success. 

Allman got gold at the Olympics, her first-round throw of 68.98m securing her a more than two-metre victory ahead of Germany’s Kristin Pudenz and Perez. Perkovic finished fourth there but has a record number of Diamond League meeting wins to her name – 44 to be exact – and the two-time Olympic and two-time world champion could claim a record-equalling seventh Diamond Trophy in Zurich. Allman leads the entries with her 70.01m mark from the US Trials, while Perez has thrown 68.99m this year and Perkovic 68.31m. They will be joined in Zurich by Cuba’s Denia Caballero, Croatia’s Marija Tolj and Portugal’s Liliana Ca.

Stahl seeks another success

Men’s discus, 6:20pm

The men’s discus is another event featuring all three Olympic medallists, led by Sweden’s Daniel Stahl. The dominant force in the discipline right now, world and Olympic champion Stahl threw 71.40m in July and got gold in Tokyo with a best of 68.90m ahead of his compatriot Simon Pettersson – who handed Stahl a rare defeat in Vaxjo in May – and Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger.

Kristjan Ceh, who improved the European U23 discus record to 70.35m in June, breaking the 70-metre mark for the first time to better his Slovenian record, will hope to return to that sort of form after finishing fifth at the Olympics. Also hoping to make their mark will be Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres, who was not fully recovered in time for the Olympic Games after injury, and Lithuania’s Andrius Gudzius.

Rojas in the spotlight

Women’s triple jump, 6:40pm

What a year it has been for Yulimar Rojas. Breaking the world record with a remarkable 15.67m leap in Tokyo, the 25-year-old claimed Venezuela’s first ever Olympic gold in athletics and she backed that up with 15.52m to win at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, another mark beyond Inessa Kravets’ previous world record. Her 15.43m in February broke the world indoor record and now she will aim for another long leap to secure her first Diamond League Trophy.

Also looking to end their seasons on a high will be Portugal’s Patricia Mamona, second behind Rojas on this season’s top list and second at the Olympic Games, plus Jamaica’s Olympic fourth-placer Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams, Israel's Hanna Minenko and Dominica’s Thea LaFond.

Another peak for Pichardo?

Men’s triple jump, 6:40pm

Fresh from winning the Olympic title with a Portuguese record leap of 17.98m, Pedro Pichardo will look to regain a Diamond League Trophy he first won in 2018. He claimed Diamond League victories either side of the Games, leaping 17.50m in Gateshead and 17.63m in Eugene, and he leads this season’s top list by 16 centimetres ahead of Hugues Fabrice Zango, who leapt 17.82m in July and then claimed bronze in Tokyo to become Burkina Faso’s first ever Olympic medallist.

They both compete in Zurich, alongside Algeria’s Yasser Mohamed Triki, who has improved to a national record of 17.43m this year which saw him finish fifth in Tokyo, plus Portugal’s Tiago Pereira, the USA’s Donald Scott and Italy's Tobia Bocchi.

What can Duplantis do?

Men’s pole vault, 8:21pm

Mondo Duplantis has made no secret of the fact that in 2021 he has been targeting Olympic glory and another world record. With the first part of that double aim achieved, the Diamond League final gives him another opportunity to attempt an improvement on his own world record of 6.18m set indoors in Glasgow in 2020.

After Tokyo, the 21-year-old finished fourth at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne but he returned to winning ways in Paris and Brussels, clearing 6.01m and then 6.05m respectively at each meeting before attempting a would-be world record height of 6.19m both times. He has now tried that height at 10 competitions this season – could it be achieved in Zurich?

Duplantis also relishes having a crowd to compete in front of and in Zurich there's set to be around 20,000 fans. Also looking to put on a show alongside the Swedish star will be the USA's two-time world champion Sam Kendricks and his compatriots Chris Nilsen, the Olympic silver medallist, and KC Lightfoot, plus Philippine national record-holder Ernest John Obiena, authorised neutral athlete Timur Morgunov and Switzerland's Dominik Alberto.

Andrejczyk leads javelin contenders

Women’s javelin, 8:22pm

Poland’s Maria Andrejczyk leads the world list with her 71.40m national record from May and after claiming Olympic silver, which she has since auctioned off to help fund heart surgery for an eight-month-old baby, she will compete for the Diamond Trophy. China’s Olympic champion Liu Shiying doesn’t compete in Zurich, but Andrejczyk will be joined by Australia’s bronze medallist Kelsey-Lee Barber, Germany’s Christin Hussong, Czech Republic’s Nikola Ogrodnikova and Latvia’s Lina Muze.

Czech Republic’s three-time world and two-time Olympic gold medallist Barbora Spotakova, who has won the Diamond Trophy five times, returns for another final.

Vetter targets victory

Men’s javelin, 8:22pm

Germany’s 2017 world champion Johannes Vetter had been a big favourite going into the Olympic Games, having threatened the world record with 97.76m last year and then led the world list in 2021 with 96.29m, part of a record streak of seven competitions in which he threw beyond 90 metres. He could only manage a best of 82.52m in Tokyo, however, placing him ninth in a competition won by India’s Neeraj Chopra.

Vetter will be keen to rebound from that by taking the Diamond Trophy for the first time, as will Grenada’s 2019 world champion Anderson Peters, who missed out on the final in Tokyo. Joining them will be Vetter’s compatriot Julian Weber, Czech Republic’s Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch, Moldova’s Andrian Mardare, Latvia's Gatis Cakss and Switzerland's Simon Wieland.

More memories to be made

Men’s high jump, 8:25pm

The shared Olympic high jump victory between Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi in Tokyo will live long in the memory after all the pair had been through in the lead-up to the Games, and the season could become even more special for Tamberi as he is among those competing in Zurich.

The Italian and Barshim both cleared 2.37m in Tokyo and could not be separated by a jump off, with Maksim Nedasekau also achieving that same height and claiming bronze on countback. In Zurich the field features both Tamberi and Nedasekau, as well as Ilya Ivanyuk, who is also a 2.37m jumper this season, plus Canada's Django Lovett, Ukraine's Andriy Protsenko and Bahamian Donald Thomas.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics