Previews06 Sep 2022

Rojas and Duplantis among athletes aiming to add to their legend in Zurich


Yulimar Rojas competes in the 2021 Diamond League final in Zurich (© Getty Images)

Multiple world champions, including world record-holders Mondo Duplantis and Yulimar Rojas, will aim to end their seasons on a high when the Letzigrund Stadium welcomes athletes for day two of the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday (8).

The first day of Weltklasse Zurich action will see six Diamond League champions crowned on Sechselautenplatz before the remaining 26 titles are decided on the second day of competition. As well as Diamond trophies and top $30,000 prizes, there are also wildcard entries to the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 to be won.

With so much to look forward to, here we take a look ahead to Thursday’s stadium field action, with the track events 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 and are subject to change.


Repeat for Rojas?

Women’s triple jump, 5:35pm

Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas is the queen of the triple jump and the world record-holder aims to continue her reign in Zurich. The 26-year-old jumped an outright world record of 15.74m to win her third world indoor title in Belgrade in March and then soared 15.47m to win her third world outdoor title in Oregon. Now she will look to build on that as she sets her sights on a second Diamond Trophy after her win in Zurich last year. She also still has another world record on her mind.

She’s not the only athlete in the field to have surpassed 15 metres this season, however, Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk having improved to a PB of 15.02m to win the European title in Munich. The world indoor silver medallist, who was runner up in the long jump at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, is set to contest both events in Zurich – the triple jump at 5:35pm before the long jump at 8:00pm.

The top five finishers at the Lausanne Diamond League meeting clash again in Switzerland, Rojas and Bekh-Romanchuk again going up against Jamaica’s two-time world silver medallist and Commonwealth champion Shanieka Ricketts, USA’s world bronze medallist Tori Franklin and Portugal’s Olympic silver medallist Patricia Mamona, plus Dominica’s Thea LaFond, the winner in Paris.

"It’s a very important time at the moment in athletics. We are seeing lots of athletes doing really good results," Rojas explained at the pre-event press conference. "I believe that with time and with work, I can achieve my goal, which is to get that 16-metre mark."

Sitting alongside Germany's Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo, Rojas was also asked about her long jump ambitions. "I really aspire to do more of the long jump in the future," she said. "My goal is to take part in a final at a major championships and to be able to compete next to Malaika and Ivana (Vuleta). Long jump for me is challenge and I like challenges."

A clash of champions

Men’s triple jump, 5:35pm

The world and Olympic champion goes up against the world indoor gold medallist and the world indoor record-holder in a contest that sees this season’s top five men’s triple jumpers battle it out. Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo won the world title in Oregon with a world-leading leap of 17.95m and could complete a hattrick of Diamond Trophy wins after his victories in 2018 and 2021.

Looking to stop him will be Cuba’s world indoor champion Lazaro Martinez, who retired after two rounds of the competition in Brussels due to muscle pain but still managed to hold on to victory with a 17.49m leap. Second that day was world indoor record-holder and world silver medallist Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso. But leading the standings going into the final is Cuba’s Andy Diaz Hernandez, winner in Lausanne and Silesia and runner up in Paris. His compatriot Jordan Alejandro Diaz Fortun made his Diamond League debut this season but has secured his spot in the final with a win in Paris and third place in Lausanne. Joining them in Zurich is Brazil’s Almir dos Santos.

After world record attempt, Mahuchikh wants more

Women’s high jump, 5:55pm

Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh has managed to excel during what she describes as “the most difficult season”, but she has remained determined to compete despite the conflict taking place in her home country. “Today I jumped for all the Ukrainian people. I know that they smile now,” the world indoor champion said after her world-leading 2.05m clearance to win in Brussels. She will hope for more of the same in Zurich.

Yaroslava Mahuchikh celebrates her high jump performance at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels

Yaroslava Mahuchikh celebrates her high jump performance at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Brussels (© Dan Vernon for Diamond League AG)

Her best ever outdoor clearance, world silver medallist Mahuchikh followed that 2.05m with three attempts at a would-be world record of 2.10m and now targets her first Diamond Trophy win after series victories in Eugene, Rabat and Paris as well as Brussels. Also seeking success in the final are Mahuchikh’s compatriots Iryna Gerashchenko and Yuliya Levchenko, plus Australia’s Olympic silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers, Italy’s world bronze medallist Elena Vallortigara and Kazakhstan’s world indoor bronze medallist Nadezhda Dubovitskaya.

Clash of titans

Men’s discus, 6:15pm

Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh has been the dominant men’s discus force on the Diamond League circuit this year, winning all four of the qualification meetings in Birmingham, Rabat, Rome and Stockholm. In Birmingham he improved his national record to 71.27m and the 23-year-old went on to win the world title in Oregon with a 71.13m throw.

In each of those Diamond League contests, Sweden’s Olympic champion Daniel Stahl finished in the top three and the 30-year-old leads the world rankings with his 71.47m achieved in Uppsala in June. Now the pair will go head-to-head again as Stahl seeks his third successive Diamond Trophy and Ceh looks to claim his first. Lithuania’s world bronze medallist in Oregon, Andrius Gudzius, was second behind Ceh in Birmingham, while Austria’s Olympic bronze medallist Lukas Weisshaidinger was runner up in Rome. They also contest the final, along with USA’s Sam Mattis and Australia’s Matthew Denny.

Allman in discus defence

Women’s discus, 6:15pm

Similar to Kristjan Ceh in the men’s event, USA’s Valarie Allman has come close to a perfect record in the Diamond League this season and in Zurich she will go up against the athlete who denied her that clean sheet and finished second in the three other meetings – Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic. Their head-to-head record this year sees Olympic champion Allman having won in Birmingham, Eugene and Paris, while two-time world and Olympic gold medallist Perkovic triumphed in Oslo and went on to claim silver in the world final in Oregon ahead of bronze medallist Allman. Allman threw her world-leading area record of 71.46m in April, while Perkovic recorded 68.45m at the World Championships.

There they were both beaten by China’s Feng Bin, who doesn’t contest the Diamond League final in Zurich. The pair will, however, go up against Germany’s Olympic silver medallist Kristin Pudenz, who finished third in Eugene, Oslo and Paris, plus her compatriot Claudine Vita, Portugal’s Liliana Ca and USA’s Laulauga Tausaga.

Duplantis aims to end year on a high

Men’s pole vault, 7:40pm

World record-holder Mondo Duplantis will look to bounce back after Brussels and retain his Diamond League title. After that competition in Belgium, the Swedish 22-year-old explained how he had been unable to find his rhythm on the runway at the Memorial Van Damme, where he cleared a best of 5.81m and was beaten by Philippines’ world bronze medallist Ernest John Obiena, who managed 5.91m. It is the only time Duplantis – who improved his world record to 6.21m when winning the world title – has lost so far this year.

"We’re humans, we make mistakes sometimes. That showed last week in Brussels," said Duplantis. "Failure is important. I’ve learned a lot of things through my career from the major losses that I’ve had. I just try to take the right things from when I mess up – realise where you messed up and try to learn from it."

Looking ahead to Thursday's competition, he added: "I feel pretty good about it. Last year I jumped really well here, 6.06m to take the meeting record. I definitely hope to improve on that. It’s a place where you can jump really high. It’s a nice solid track, the crowd is phenomenal, the energy in there."

Mondo Duplantis celebrates his 6.10m Athletissima meeting record in Lausanne

Mondo Duplantis celebrates his 6.10m Athletissima meeting record in Lausanne (© Chiara Montesano / Diamond League AG)

Having only contested two Diamond League qualification events this season, Obiena won’t be competing in Zurich, but there are a number of other athletes who will look to make their mark. USA’s Olympic and world silver medallist Chris Nilsen improved his outdoor best to 6.00m in May and finished second on the Diamond League circuit in Eugene and Stockholm, while Belgium’s Ben Broeders won in Paris, where France’s 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie was second. In Zurich they will be joined by Brazil’s 2016 Olympic gold medallist Thiago Braz, Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen and Switzerland’s Dominik Alberto.

Seven-metre stars seek success

Women’s long jump, 8:00pm

The women’s long jump features a clash between this season’s two seven-metre-plus stars Malaika Mihambo and Ivana Vuleta, but there will be a number of athletes looking to capitalise if they are not near their best in Zurich. Germany’s Olympic champion Mihambo jumped 7.12m to retain her world title in Oregon and will now hope to regain the Diamond League crown she claimed in 2019, the year in which she set her 7.30m PB. Vuleta won’t make that an easy task, though, Serbia’s two-time world indoor champion having the experience of three Diamond League title wins to her name as well as a season's best of 7.06m set when winning her second European title. 

But Diamond League wins in this discipline have been shared this season, Mihambo victorious in Birmingham, Sweden’s Khaddi Sagnia succeeding in Eugene, Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk winning in Rome and Britain’s Lorraine Ugen taking top spot in Stockholm. They will all also be targeting one more win in Zurich, where they will be joined by USA’s Quanesha Burks and Switzerland’s Annik Kalin.

"I feel like I am in good shape, similar to 2019 in Doha," said Mihambo. "It’s going to be my last competition for this year so I am really excited and hope to have a good performance so I can go into the off season with a really good feeling."

Swiss star Ehammer’s individual aim

Men’s long jump, 8:00pm

After switching 10 events for one at the World Championships, Swiss decathlete Simon Ehammer will again focus on the long jump as he chases the Diamond Trophy in front of a home crowd. The 22-year-old secured heptathlon silver at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, jumped a world decathlon long jump best of 8.45m in Gotzis and then claimed world long jump bronze in Oregon before making a decathlon return at the European Championships, where he gained another silver.

Simon Ehammer competes at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo

Simon Ehammer competes at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)

The European long jump title in Munich was won by Greece’s Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou from Sweden’s Thobias Montler and they will also have the Diamond Trophy in their sights, Tentoglou being this year’s world silver medallist with a world-leading season’s best of 8.52m achieved in Munich and Montler being the defending Diamond League champion. Tentoglou has also been strongest in the Diamond League season so far, winning in Rabat, Oslo and Silesia, while he was second in Monaco in a competition won by Cuba’s Olympic bronze medallist Maykel Masso. In Zurich, that quartet will face USA’s Marquis Dendy and Uruguay’s Emiliano Lasa.

"It has been a crazy year for me and hopefully tomorrow will be even better," said Ehammer. "It’s nice to have one event in which I am so strong and have the privilege to compete against the specialists. Hopefully I can show the Swiss crowd tomorrow that I can do that."

Can Winger build on Brussels?

Women’s javelin, 8:20pm

Kara Winger has said that this season will be her last before retirement and she’s already ensured that she’ll end things on an incredible high. Winning her first Diamond Trophy would be the icing on the cake. The 26-year-old claimed silver at the World Championships, gained gold at the NACAC Championships and then improved to a world-leading US record of 68.11m in Brussels. It had been 12 years and two surgeries since her last PB.

At the World Championships Winger placed runner-up to Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber and ahead of Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi, and they both also contest the final in Zurich. Barber won in Monaco, while Kitaguchi claimed top spot in Paris and Silesia. Lithuania’s Liveta Jasiunaite and Latvia’s Lina Muze will also be looking to make a statement, while Czech javelin great Barbora Spotakova – who has five Diamond League titles to her name – is also in action.

Chopra chases first Diamond Trophy

Men’s javelin, 8:20pm

Neeraj Chopra is no stranger to making history for his nation – on the Diamond League front he became the first Indian athlete to win on the circuit with victory in Lausanne – and he has the chance to cap that in Zurich. The Olympic champion secured world silver ahead of Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch in Oregon and missed the Commonwealth Games through injury but rebounded to win in Lausanne with a first round 89.08m throw. Vadlejch was runner up on that occasion and also finished second in Doha, where he set his season’s best of 90.88m, while he got the win in Silesia.

“Tonight was a good indicator that I have recovered well,” Chopra said in Lausanne. “It has given me a lot of confidence to finish the season on a high.”

Their competition in Zurich includes Germany’s European champion Julian Weber, USA’s Curtis Thompson, Portugal’s Leandro Ramos and Latvia’s Patriks Gailums.

Jess Whittington for World Athletics