Caterine Ibarguen in Oslo (© Giancarlo Colombo)
The IAAF Diamond League points chase continues with Oslo's Bislett Games, the series' fifth stop of the 2019 season, on Thursday (13).
A sell-out crowd of 14,200 is expected to pack Bislett Stadium for the meeting's 54th edition, attracted by another strong slate of athletes nearly across the board. Most will be facing strong early season fields; all will be contending with the cool and soggy late spring conditions that have descended on the Norwegian capital.
Coleman’s Shanghai follow-up
That includes Christian Coleman, the 2018 Diamond League champion who opened his season with a superb 9.86 performance in Shanghai, where he was defeated by Noah Lyles by a scant 0.006 in what was the world indoor 60m champion's best season's debut.
The chill expected on Thursday evening may prevent the 23-year-old from repeating that kind of performance, but he'll nonetheless face a strong test, taking on Briton Reece Prescod, who's run a near-PB 9.97 this season and Arthur Cisse of Ivory Coast, who arrives on the heels of two victories in the past eight days, most recently in Hengelo on Sunday.
High profile 400m hurdles showdowns
On the women's side, the 400m hurdles is among the most anticipated races, pitting four sub-53 second runners in the same contest for only the second time this year. With three wins in as many races this season, Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad has the best momentum at the moment, and also arrives as the world leader at 53.61. She'll be taking on Shamier Little and world champion Kori Carter, who were second and fourth behind Muhammad in Rome, and rising star Sydney McLaughlin, who'll be making her Diamond League debut in her main event.
With the news yesterday that a bout of bursitis has sidelined world leader Abderrahman Samba, the focus in the men's race falls squarely on home star Karsten Warholm, the world champion, and British Virgin Islander Kyron McMaster, the Diamond League champion of the past two years. In the last two seasons, Warholm has displayed well his ability to get faster almost race-upon-race, so his 47.85 victory in Stockholm 12 days ago bodes well.
Diamond League leader Sharika Nelvis leads the field in the women's 100m hurdles, taking on compatriots Christina Clemons and Brianna McNeal, the Olympic champion, and European champion Elvira Herman. Local attention will fall on poster girl Isabelle Pederson, the Norwegian record holder at 12.72.
The women's 200m features world champion Dafne Schippers taking on Gabrielle Thomas and Jenna Prandini of the US.
Ingebrigtsens headline Dream mile
The tradition of Oslo's Dream mile goes back nearly half a century, whose rich roll call of champions includes most of the greatest milers of all-time. European eyes will focus on Norway's Ingebrigtsen brothers, Jakob and Filip, who have served valiantly as part of the meeting's poster squad. Jakob, who at just 18 famously won the 1500m/5000m double at last year's European championships, returns to action after a third place opening in his outdoor season's opener in Stockholm last month. Thursday's race will mark his first as a high school graduate. Filip meanwhile, who raced to world bronze two years ago, will be testing his speed after clocking a 5000m lifetime best in Rome.
Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, the winner of this race in 2014, returns for another go after a runner-up finish in Stockholm.
In the 3000m, the spotlight will fall on Ethiopia Selemon Barega, who moves down in distance in search of his first win of the season after runner-up finishes in the Shanghai and Rome 5000s. The race will also provide a glimpse of Muktar Edris's form as the world 5000m champion makes his first international start of the season. Asian champion Birhanu Balew of Bahrain will also be a factor, given his solid 12:56.26 PB in Rome last week. The field features another Ingebrigtsen, Henrik, who'll be gunning for the Norwegian record of 7:40.77.
Chepkoech vs Coburn in the steeplechase
One of the strongest fields of the night will assemble in the women's steeplechase, with world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech facing world champion Emma Coburn. Chepkoech has already set the tone for 2019 with her strong 9:04.53 victory in Shanghai, a time only seven other women have ever bettered. Four of them will line up on Thursday: Norah Jeruto and Celliphine Chespol, both members of the still exclusive sub-9:00 club, and Hyvin Kiyeng and Coburn, who'll be making their season's debuts.
Duplantis vs Kendricks
On the infield, considerable attention will fall on the men's pole vault where Armand Duplantis continues to hog the limelight. The 19-year-old European champion arrives for his first competition in the professional ranks as the world leader at 6.00m - but also on the back of a loss at his first and last NCAA outdoor championships. Conversely, world champion Sam Kendricks will make his Oslo debut after collecting victories in Doha, Stockholm and Hengelo and will start as favourite looking to collect an 11th win against the young Swede in 12 meetings.
Caterine Ibarguen will be chasing a fourth Oslo title in the triple jump where the 2018 World Athlete of the Year will start as the woman to beat. Although she's been off to a low key start in her specialty - she reached 14.38m at her eponymous meeting in Baranquilla on 18 May - she's been competitive in her second event, winning the long jump in Doha and finishing second in Rome. The field includes Shanieka Ricketts of Jamaica, the world leader at 14.76m, and the strong US duo of Tori Franklin, the national record holder, and Keturah Orji.
The Diamond League portion of the meeting gets underway at 19:00 local time with the women's high jump where Mariya Lasitskene, the dominant force in the event in recent years, will aim for her second DL victory of the campaign jumping against four women who have sailed higher than her this season. Lasitskene topped 1.92m in Stockholm's difficult conditions to win there; in this part of her Scandinavian tour she'll take on Ukraine's Iryna Geraschenko, the world leader at 1.99m and Swede Erika Kinsey, the Hengelo winner at 1.96m. Seventeen-year-old Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who became the youngest woman to win at a Diamond League meeting after her triumph in Doha, also returns to action.
Hofmann vs Kirt, both unbeaten in 2019, face off in javelin
The sole men's throw on the programme is the javelin, where world leader (89.65m) Andreas Hofmann of Germany takes on Estonia's Magnus Kirt, both undefeated in three competitions this season. Hofmann took the season opener in Shanghai while Kirt prevailed in a classy showdown in Turku on Tuesday (11) with 88.32m. World champion Johannes Vetter will be making his season's debut while Olympic champion Thomas Rohler will be targetting his third win of the season in his seventh start.
In the women's shot, US newcomer Chase Ealey will be looking for a second circuit win after upsetting world champion Gong Lijiao on her home turf in Shanghai last month. Gong returned the favour in Nanjing three days later, taking down Ealey with an 19.84m world leader. Jamaican Danniel Thomas-Dodd has already extended the national record this season with a 19.48 effort in April, so could also be a factor. Keep an eye out for Olympic champion Michelle Carter who'll be making her outdoor season debut.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF