Kendra Harrison wins the 100m hurdles at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene
Few arenas across the world have played hosted to as many unforgettable feats as the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm – which hosted the Games back in 1912 – and the historic arena is set for another memorable night when it stages the eighth stop on this year's IAAF Diamond League on Thursday evening (16).
The historic stadium has played host to 83 world records down through the years, and there’s a chance it will see its 84th at the BAUHAUS-galan meeting.
The athlete with the best odds seems to be Kendra Harrison, the 23-year-old American who has taken the sprint hurdles world by storm this season.
She flew to a 12.24 clocking at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene last month, the second fastest mark ever, and she looks capable of challenging Yordanka Donkova’s record of 12.21, which dates back to 1988.
World indoor champion Nia Ali and Queen Harrison should present the stiffest challenge to Harrison.
Despite the strength of the American trio, all local eyes will be trained on the darling of Swedish athletics, Susanna Kallur, who competes in her first outdoor hurdles race in six years.
The former European champion still holds the world indoor 60m hurdles record at 7.68, but has been plagued with injury in recent years.
If Kallur, now 35, can mix it with the world’s best and launch herself into contention for a spot at the Olympic Games, she will draw unrivalled levels of adulation from the home crowd.
Race against time for Jebet
Another athlete running with one eye on the clock will be Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet, who could put the 3000m steeplechase world record of 8:58.81 under threat.
The 19-year-old, who is the reigning world junior champion, dipped below nine minutes for the first time when sprinting to victory in Eugene last month, clocking 8:59.97 to move to number two on the all-time list.
However, it may not be a solo run to victory as Tunisia’s London 2012 Olympic Games champion Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia will make her seasonal debut, and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia will join them on the start line.
One man who knows exactly how to run a world record – he’s done it three times over 800m – is Kenya’s David Rudisha, and he will compete in Stockholm for the first time on Thursday evening.
The reigning world and Olympic champion looked back to his imperious best when running 1:13.10 for 600m in Birmingham last week, but he’ll need to produce something near his best form to repel his rivals here.
The 800m field includes Ethiopia’s former world champion Mohammed Aman, the formidable Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, along Rudisha’s fellow Kenyans Timothy Kitum and Ferguson Rotich, who have all run below 1:45.00 this season.
Lavillenie set to continue domination
France’s Renaud Lavillenie won at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Eugene and Oslo and will be looking to extend his advantage in this year's Diamond Race, and the seven-time champion is in command with 26 points, which puts him 10 clear of his closest challenger, 2015 world champion Shawn Barber, who will be aiming to close the gap in what is a loaded pole vault competition.
Lavillenie has defeated Barber in all four of their clashes this summer, but has yet to scale the heights he managed indoors, holding an outdoor best of 5.83m.
An intriguing entrant is 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe; the German will return to competition after a four-month absence, and with less than two months until the Olympic Games.
Holzdeppe will hope to make a statement against his likely rivals in Rio which will include not only Lavillenie and Barber but also Greece’s Konstadinos Filippidis, who cleared a national record of 5.84m indoors this year.
The men’s javelin is filled with quality, with world champion Julius Yego of Kenya looking to defeat over Germany’s Thomas Rohler, who threw a lifetime best of 89.30m for an impressive win in Oslo last Thursday.
Yego has yet to approach the form which saw him hurl the spear out to a phenomenal 92.72m to win the world title last year, so Rohler’s biggest challenge may come from Egypt’s 2015 world championships silver medallist Ihab Abdelrahman, Trinidad and Tobago’s 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott or the Czech duo Jakub Vadlejch and Vitezslav Vesely.
Plethora of seven-metre jumpers
The women’s long jump boasts five athletes who have surpassed the seven-metre barrier.
They are led by American Brittney Reese, who jumped 7.04m in Bellinzona, Switzerland earlier this month.
Diamond Race leader Ivana Spanovic has taken two wins on the IAAF Diamond League circuit this season in Shanghai and Oslo, and the Serbian should pose the biggest challenge to Reese.
USA’s reigning world champion Tianna Bartoletta, Brooke Stratton of Australia and Great Britain’s consistent Shara Proctor should also be in the mix.
In the men’s triple jump, Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor is three-from-three in his outings this year, and the American will look to continue that record in Stockholm.
To do so, he will have to beat France’s 2013 world champion Teddy Tamgho, who finished second in Oslo recently and is showing signs of returning to form that brought him that gold medal in Moscow after missing all of 2014 and the majority of 2015 through injury.
Discus thrower Sandra Perkovic is another with a perfect record this season, taking three successive Diamond League victories, and the four-time Diamond Race winner will once again prove tough to beat.
The Croatian’s biggest threat should come from Cuban duo Denia Caballero and Yaimi Perez, who have both thrown over 67 metres this year.
Kenya’s 2015 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett, who stormed to victory in Beijing last year in 47.49, but has been well below that form so far this season with a best of just 49.31. He will face a strong line-up which includes Javier Culson of Puerto Rico, South Africa’s LJ van Zyl and American trio Kerron Clement, Bershawn Jackson and Michael Tinsley.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF