Elaine Thompson-Herah in action in Eugene (© Getty Images)
A slew of high-profile clashes and star-studded fields – featuring 13 individual Olympic champions – are set to light up Hayward Field for the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene on Friday (27) and Saturday (28).
The best of the lot is probably the women’s 100m, where Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica goes up against world indoor 60m champion Mujinga Kambundji, world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith and US star Sha’Carri Richardson, who has a best of 10.72.
Thompson-Herah has had a low-key start to her outdoor season, withdrawing from a planned appearance in Birmingham last weekend in favour of competing in Kingston, where she clocked an impressive 10.94 into a strong wind (-1.8m/s). Also in the line-up are Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the 2019 world 100m bronze medallist, and Shericka Jackson, who ran 10.76 to earn Olympic 100m bronze in Tokyo. The field is completed by US duo Teahna Daniels and Twanisha Terry along with Jamaica’s Briana Williams.
The men’s 100m is also loaded, with US stars Christian Coleman, Trayvon Bromell, Noah Lyles and Fred Kerley taking to their marks alongside Canada’s Andre De Grasse, the Olympic 200m champion. Kerley, the Olympic 100m silver medallist, made a strong start to his season with a 9.92 (2.0m/s) 100m in Nairobi and a runner-up finish over 200m in Doha in 19.75 (2.1m/s).
Noah Lyles on his way to a 19.52 200m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)
Coleman, the world 100m champion, clocked 10.09 (0.1m/s) to win in Tokyo earlier this month and will likely go much quicker here. Bromell opened his season with a wind-assisted 9.75 (2.1m/s) 100m in Jacksonville last month and will be keen to put the disappointment of last weekend in Birmingham – where he false started – firmly behind him.
The presence of rising star Erriyon Knighton – who clocked an astonishing world U20 200m record of 19.49 last month – is also sure to draw many eyes as the 18-year-old seeks to break 10 seconds for the first time. Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo, the world U20 champion, is another 18-year-old to watch, having clocked a world U20 record of 9.96 (1.9m/s) last month. Olympic 200m silver medallist Kenneth Bednarek is also in the field.
The women’s 200m will throw up an intriguing clash as the brilliant Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo takes on Jamaican star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and USA’s Brittany Brown. Miller-Uibo was some way off her best when finishing third in 51.84 over 400m in Doha recently, though as a 21.74-second performer at her best, her opponents know all about her ability at the half-lap distance.
Fraser-Pryce is better known for her 100m brilliance, but the 35-year-old has a PB of 21.79 at this distance and was the world champion over it back in 2013. Her 10.67 (-0.4m/s) in Nairobi earlier this month proved she’s in flying form as she sets out to win her sixth individual outdoor world title this summer.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo wins the 400m at the USATF Grand Prix in Eugene (© Getty Images)
Brown, meanwhile, is the world silver medallist over 200m and the US star clocked a wind-assisted 10.66 (3.2m/s) for 100m last month. Also in the line-up are USA’s Jenna Prandini, Tamara Clark, Cambrea Sturgis, Dezerea Bryant, along with Anthonique Strachan of The Bahamas and Kambundji, who will be back on her marks just 60 minutes after the 100m.
The men’s 400m will see Kirani James of Grenada, the Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo, take on a formidable line-up of US athletes including Michael Cherry, Michael Norman, Vernon Norwood and Kahmari Montgomery. Cherry, who was fourth in the Olympic final in Tokyo, is the fastest of them this year with the 44.28 he ran in Walnut, USA. Also competing is world indoor 400m champion Jereem Richards, along with Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith.
The men’s 400m hurdles will see Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos start as the heavy favourite. The 21-year-old, an Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo, clocked a world-leading 47.24 in Doha earlier this month. Also in the field are 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Yasmani Copello and Tokyo Olympic finalist Rasmus Magi.
The women’s 100m hurdles sees Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn take on a typically formidable horde of US contenders that includes world record-holder Kendra Harrison, who followed Camacho-Quinn home in Tokyo last year, and Nia Ali, the world champion.
Camacho-Quinn went close to Harrison’s world record of 12.20 in Tokyo last year, clocking a Games record of 12.26 in the Olympic semifinal, and the 25-year-old tops the 2022 world lists with the 12.39 (-0.1m/s) she ran in Gainesville last month.
The middle-distance races will bring together a host of all-time greats, and it will be no surprise if world records fall on the first evening of competition on Friday.
Following the staging of two 10,000m races that are part of the US Championships – which will determine selection for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 – there will be a women’s two miles, a women’s 5000m and men’s 5000m. On the eve of the meeting, organisers announced that based on the weather forecast for Saturday, the men's pole vault, women's high jump and women's discus events would be moved to also take place on Friday.
Joshua Cheptegei takes centre stage in the 5000m, a separate race to the Diamond League 5000m that will be held the following day. With a slew of top-level pacers enlisted, the 25-year-old Ugandan will attempt to break his world record of 12:35.36, which he ran in Monaco in August 2020.
Joshua Cheptegei races at the 2021 Prefontaine Classic (© Getty Images)
On Saturday afternoon, the majority of the rivals Cheptegei beat to win Olympic 5000m gold in Tokyo last year will line up for the Diamond League 5000m, where Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega of Ethiopia, Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda, Olympic 5000m silver medallist Mohammed Ahmed of Canada and two-time Olympic 5000m medallist Paul Chelimo of USA are the main contenders. Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale and Berihiu Aregawi are also sure to feature.
All eyes will be on Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey on Friday night as the 24-year-old aims to lower the women’s 5000m world record of 14:06.62 that she set in Valencia in October 2020. Gidey has since added the 10,000m (29:01.03) and half marathon (1:02:52) world records and her chief opposition is likely to be the clock as she chases another historic mark. Also in the field are Ethiopians Fantu Worku and Ejgayehu Taye, along with Kenya’s Winny Chebet and Teresiah Muthoni Gateri.
Elsewhere on Friday, the women’s two miles will revolve around Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, who edged two-time Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon to victory over 3000m in Doha recently, clocking 8:37.70. The world best of 8:58.58, set by Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar in 2007, is sure to be under threat. Also in the field are Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen and Kenyan duo Beatrice Chebet and Edinah Jebitok.
Saturday’s middle-distance action will be highlighted by the clash of Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, who renew their rivalry in the Bowerman Mile. Ingebrigtsen beat Cheruiyot for the first time in the Olympic final in Tokyo last year but the Kenyan turned the tables a few weeks later to win over 1500m at the Diamond League final in Zurich.
Both men will need to be primed, however, to beat Kenya’s Abel Kipsang, who out-kicked Cheruiyot to win in Doha recently and who backed it up with 1500m victory in Birmingham last Sunday. Also in the line-up are Australia’s Ollie Hoare, USA’s Cole Hocker and 2017 world bronze medallist Filip Ingebrigtsen.
Faith Kipyegon will take on long-time rivals Laura Muir and Gudaf Tsegay in the women’s 1500m, her season debut at her specialist distance.
Faith Kipyegon wins the 1500m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco (© AFP / Getty Images)
The 28-year-old Kenyan has not been beaten over 1500m since getting outbattled by Sifan Hassan in Rome last June, but she reversed that result emphatically in the Olympic final. Muir was impressive when kicking away to win in Birmingham in a modest 4:02.81 last weekend while Tsegay, the world record-holder indoors at 1500m, has not raced since winning the world indoor title in March.
The women’s 800m sees world indoor champion Ajee Wilson of USA take on Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson of Britain, the latter arriving in Eugene after a highly impressive victory in Birmingham, where she clocked 1:58.63.
Wilson was equally as peerless when kicking to gold in Belgrade in March, though she was not quite at her best when finishing sixth over 600m at the Penn Relays last month in 1:25.87. Also in the field are world silver medallist Raevyn Rogers, world champion Halimah Nakaayi and Olympic finalists Natoya Goule and Jemma Reekie.
The women’s 3000m steeplechase sees Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai of Uganda renew rivalry with the woman who chased her home in Tokyo – USA’s Courtney Frerichs – while world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech and 2017 world champion Emma Coburn are also in the field.
The men’s shot put is likely to prove the pick of the field events, featuring a reunion of the three Olympic medallists in Tokyo: Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs and Tom Walsh.
Ryan Crouser at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Getty Images)
Crouser, the two-time Olympic champion and world record-holder, is sure to be tough to stop in his native Oregon, and he looked to have shrugged off the injury issues that plagued his indoor season when throwing 22.75m in Ponce, Puerto Rico, a fortnight ago. Kovacs comes in in good form after throwing 22.46m in Nashville last month, while Walsh will be keen to improve on the 21.60m he opened his season with last weekend. Also in the field is Zane Weir, who threw an Italian indoor record of 21.67m in March.
Mondo Duplantis will be the star attraction in the men’s pole vault, the superlative Swede extending his win streak to nine events when clearing 6.02m indoors in Doha earlier this month. Having cleared an outright world record of 6.20m to win the world indoor title in Belgrade back in March, it will not be a surprise if big heights are again scaled on Friday. Also in the line-up are Olympic silver medallist Christopher Nilsen of USA and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie.
US star Valarie Allman, the Olympic champion, is the favourite for the women’s discus and she should prove a class apart if reproducing anything close to the North American record of 71.46m she launched in San Diego back in April. Germany’s Kristin Pudenz, the Olympic silver medallist, and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic, the two-time Olympic champion, look set to provide her toughest opposition.
Olympic medallists Yaroslava Mahuchikh of Ukraine and Nicola Olyslagers (nee McDermott) of Australia are the star names in the women’s high jump. This is Mahuchikh’s first competition since she soared over 2.02m to win the world indoor title in Belgrade in March – a feat made even more impressive given the 20-year-old had fled her home country due to the outbreak of war in the weeks before.
Olyslagers, who earned Olympic silver ahead of Mahuchikh in Tokyo, has just one competition to her name this year – winning the Australian title with 1.94m in April. Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko and USA’s Vashti Cunningham are also in the field.
The women’s long jump will see world indoor champion Ivana Vuleta of Serbia take on Olympic bronze medallist Ese Brume of Nigeria and US star Tara Davis, with triple jump queen Yulimar Rojas opening her outdoor season in an event where she has a PB of 6.88m.
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics