Mondo Duplantis, winner of the pole vault at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© Getty Images)
The strongest athletics line up ever assembled in Poland is set to grace the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Silesia on Saturday (6).
A stellar field, including 49 medallists and 12 individual champions from the recent World Athletics Championships Oregon22, marks the first Diamond League meeting ever hosted in the country. For such a historic occasion, it’s only appropriate that several history-making athletes will take centre stage at the iconic Slaski Stadium – none more so than record-breaking pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis and sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
After winning gold with a world record of 6.21m in Eugene, Sweden’s Duplantis has more than enough in hand to attack another six-metre vault. World and Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen of the USA and world bronze medallist Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines lead the opposition.
Speaking at the pre-event press conference, Duplantis said he remains highly motivated for the rest of the season. "The beautiful thing about athletics and especially what I do – pole vaulting – is there’s always a little bit more that you can do," he explained. "There’s more that you can push to get those few extra centimetres out of yourself.
"I’m enjoying everything right now - the process of travelling, of training, of coming to competitions. I love being out here competing. If I wasn’t having such a good time with the process and striving to push the boundaries and see what I am capable of, then maybe it would be a different situation. But as far as now, I am really enjoying it, motivation is the least of my concerns."
Although it’s not a Diamond League event, plenty of interest will also rest on the women’s 100m, where Jamaican icon Fraser-Pryce will be looking to re-assert her authority on the event after winning her fifth world 100m title in Eugene. World finalist Aleia Hobbs, US champion Melissa Jefferson and compatriot Twanisha Terry – all of whom won 4x100m gold in Oregon – are also in the line-up. Local star and 2019 European indoor 60m gold medallist Ewa Svoboda will also present some colourful opposition.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wins the 100m in Nairobi (© AFP / Getty Images)
More fireworks are expected in the women’s 200m, where newly crowned world champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica will face world and Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas, as well as Olympic bronze medallist Gabby Thomas and USA’s world finalist Tamara Clark. Jackson landed one of the performances of the championships in Eugene with a searing 21.46 to move to second on the world all-time list.
Having collected her first world gold over one lap in Eugene, double Olympic champion Miller-Uibo is not short on confidence and form. And Jackson cannot be complacent against the Bahamian, who took world bronze over 200m in 2017.
As the only woman in history to have won World Championships medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m, Jackson is an athlete of rare versatility, and she remains open-minded over what distances she will tackle in the future.
"When you achieve a goal, you go back and set another goal," she said. "So, for this season, it is just to have some fun. I know proper execution will get me to run fast. I love challenges, so if I go back to the 400m, I know I will do pretty well. I am not giving up any event as yet. All events are up for grabs!"
Ahead of the match up, Miller-Uibo said she was looking forward some fun at the shorter distance. "For just about every athlete, the high is always the major competition of the season (World Championships)," she said.
"Everyone has been putting down some really impressive times. I have done everything in the 400m, it’s time to let loose now and enjoy the rest of the season."
The men’s triple jump is another stacked field and welcomes the full podium from Eugene and Tokyo. Portugal’s world and Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo will be seeking to continue his fine run of form, having leapt to an enormous 17.95m to win world gold. He is joined by world silver and bronze medallists Fabrice Zango and Zhu Yaming, as well as world indoor champion Lazaro Martinez and multiple global champion Christian Taylor.
The newly crowned men’s world champions over one lap of the track will both be in action in their respective events. Alison Dos Santos will be looking to maintain his brilliant form in the 400m hurdles, having broken his own South American record to win the world title in 46.29. France’s Wilfried Happio, fourth in Eugene, is among the opposition.
Alison Dos Santos on his way to winning the 400m hurdles at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© Matthew Quine)
World gold and silver medallists Michael Norman and Kirani James, meanwhile, will renew their rivalry in the men’s 400m flat.
Global champions set to star in the hammer
Poland has had a tight grip on the big prizes in the men’s hammer in recent years and Silesia is set to be another demonstration of their might.
Fresh from his fifth successive world title, Poland’s Pavel Fajdek will go head-to-head with long-time domestic rival and Olympic champion Wojciech Nowicki. The Tokyo gold medallist had to settle for silver in Eugene, but got the better of Fajdek in this same stadium in June at the Continental Tour Gold meeting. With Olympic silver medallist Eivind Henriksen and 2019 world silver medallist Quentin Bigot also in the field, it promises to be another intriguing battle.
In the women’s hammer newly anointed world champion Brooke Andersen of the USA will clash with world bronze medallist Janee Kassanavoid, the only woman to have beaten Andersen this year.
The women’s shot put also brings together the world gold and bronze medallists in the form of USA’s Chase Ealey and Jessica Schilder of the Netherlands. World indoor champion Auriol Dongmo of Portugal and Commonwealth champion Sarah Mitton of Canada add further strength to the competitive field.
Shot put winner Chase Ealey at the Doha Diamond League (© Getty Images)
In the men’s shot, world silver and bronze medallists Joe Kovacs and Josh Owutunde are back in action and will take on 2017 world champion Tom Walsh and USA’s Darrell Hill.
The women’s high jump also sees the leading runners-up from the World Championships return to competitive action in the form of Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Italy’s Elena Vallortigara.
The men’s 800m is headed by Olympic and world gold medallist Emmanuel Korir. The Kenyan can expect a raucous crowd cheering on home hero and Olympic bronze medallist Patryk Dobek.
In the men’s 100m, world silver and bronze medallists Marvin Bracy-Williams and Trayvon Bromell of the USA are in the line-up, along with 2019 world champion Christian Coleman and 2011 world champion Yohan Blake of Jamaica in to spice the brew.
The women’s 100m hurdles see Olympic champion and world bronze medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn looking to get back to winning ways. Nia Ali, the 2019 world champion who fell in the semifinals at the World Championships, will also feel as though she has a point to prove. Fellow US sprint hurdlers Kendra Harrison, the world record-holder, and Alaysha Johnson are also in the field.
Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece will be looking to go one better than his second place finish in the long jump in Oregon. Cuba’s Maykel Masso, USA’s Steffin McCarter and Marquis Dendy – who finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in Oregon – will also be competing.
In the women’s 3000m, double Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands will be looking to bounce back from her disappointment in Oregon, where she missed on the medals. World 10,000m bronze medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi of Kenya and world 5000m leader Ejgayehu Taye are part of a solid looking field.
In the women’s 1500m, world indoor champion and world 5000m champion Gudaf Tsegay will start a heavy favourite. World bronze medallist Hirut Meshesha and world indoor 3000m champion Lemlem Hailu will line up against their compatriot.
Gudaf Tsegay in Diamond League action (© AFP / Getty Images)
World 400m hurdles silver medallist Femke Bol will drop the barriers in favour of the flat one-lap sprint in Silesia. The Dutch runner will take on four world 400m finalists in the form of Stephenie Ann McPherson, Fiordaliza Cofil, Candice McLeod and Anna Kielbasinska.
World indoor champion Ajee Wilson heads the women’s 800m field. Olympic bronze medallist Raevyn Rogers and world finalist Anita Horvat are among her opponents.
In the javelin, world and Olympic medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic looks the pick of the men's field, while world bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi and world record-holder Barbora Spotakova feature in the women's line-up.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics