The inaugural event of the annual IAAF Diamond League at Doha is less than 10 days away. Top global athletes are expected to come together and show their skills in a run up to 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Before a month-long Olympic break after the London Meet on July 23, ten DL meetings would have been completed and a fair picture of contestants’ SWOT or Strengths and Weaknesses Opportunities & Threats could emerge. Like always, this year’s Diamond league season will also feature several individual Event Disciplines with a points’ scoring system for each event leading to the ‘Diamond Race’. After 14 meetings, winners of each Diamond Race will get a Diamond Trophy, a cash prize and a wild card for IAAF World Championships under certain conditions. The specialty of 2016 season is the Diamond Trophy Tour, in which the trophy will fly to each DL venue in 14 world cities and 4 continents, before finally landing at Zurich and Brussels for the season finale in September.
The seventh edition of IAAF Diamond League gets underway at Doha on May 06, 2016 and after five months, will culminate at Brussels on September 09, 2016. In between, there will be a month-long break for Rio Games from July 23 until August 25. Among world’s top athletes expected to light up the Doha DL Meeting will be world champions Almaz Ayana of Kenya and Vivian Cheruiyot of Ethiopia in 3000m race; USA’s Allyson Felix and Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers in women’s 100m sprint; Mutaz Barshim in high jump; reigning Olympic triple jump champions, Christian Taylor among men and Olga Rypakova and two-time World champion Caterine Ibarguen. Besides, discus world champions Piotr Malachowski, shot putter Christina Schwanitz and javelin thrower Katharina Molitor will also be seen at Doha.
In a clash of two women world champions in 3000m at Doha, Ethiopian Almaz Ayana will have showdown with Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot. Ayana won the 5000m at Beijing’s World Championship last year while Cheruiyot came back from maternity leave and struck gold in the 10000m. Another eagerly awaited event is 100m clash between USA’s Allyson Felix and Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers. Not many athletes have the credentials of Felix, who is chasing her 12th victory at Doha and her fourth in 100m. But Dutchwoman Schippers has been making deep inroads in shorter sprint events since her 200m victory at the World Championship at Beijing and the contest between Felix and Schippers could be mouthwatering.
Local hope Mutaz Barshim will have a tough competition from world’s top high jumpers. Barshim is on record to have competed at Doha DL three times without winning even once. He needs to cross his highest previous jump of 2.37m since he will face the heat from Canada’s reigning world champion Derek Drouin and China’s Zhang Guowei, who won the silver at Beijing. Besides, Barshim could be challenged by USA’s Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard and Robbie Grabarz. Another Qatari athlete, 19-year-old Abdalelah Haroun runs 400m for the first time in Doha and he will have to contend with big names like; USA’s LaShawn Merritt, Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and Saudi Arabia’s Youssef Ahmed Masrahi and perhaps Machel Cedenio of Trinidad & Tobago.
Fans of middle-distance running will be delighted to see a stellar field in men’s 1500m, dominated by the Kenyan trio of Asbel Kiprop, Elijah Motonei Manangoi and Silas Kiplagat. Kiprop is the 2008 Olympic champion and a winner of last three World Championships finals. Besides, Kiprop is credited with producing the fastest time in 14 years, clocking 3:26.69 in Monaco DL last year. The Kenyans will also have athletes like Ayanleh Suleiman and Aman Wote, both of whom are capable of springing surprises with their sub-3:30 personal bests.
In women’s triple jump, double world champion Caterine Ibarguen will be the favorite to win but the 32-year old Colombian could face tough competition from Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova, Israel’s Hanna Knyazheva-Minenko and Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games champion Kimberly Williams. Rypakova is the 2012 DL winner and she has never lost at Doha. She went to Beijing’s World Championship after giving birth to her second child and returned with a bronze medal. The men’s triple-jump field at Doha will be no less competitive with reigning Olympic champion and 4-time DL winner Christian Taylor leading the athletes. The hottest challenge to Taylor could come from Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo.
Other athletes, who will be keenly watched, are; men’s discus world champion Piotr Malachowski of Poland, woman shot putter Christina Schwanitz of Germany and another German woman Katharina Molitor in javelin. But these athletes cannot relax since their respective fields are strong and competitive. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Malachowski will face stiff challenge from his countryman Robert Urbanek and Belgium’s Philip Milanov. Christina Schwanitz will be challenged by USA’s Michelle Carter and Anita Marton of Hungary, the silver medalist at world indoors. In women’s javelin throw, Katharina Molitor could be strongly challenged by South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen, the holder of African record of 69.35m and Slovenia’s Martina Ratej, who won at Doha in 2014. More importantly, before it takes a long break, ten 2016 DL meetings would have served as a test bed for promising players bound for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.