Christian Coleman wins the 100m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Christian Coleman's eagerly anticipated season's debut over 200m will be among the key highlights at the 58th Golden Spike, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava on Thursday (20).
Coleman, who has clocked world leads of 9.86 and 9.85 in the 100m already this season, has indicated that he's aiming to tackle both short sprints at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 later this year. His race on Thursday evening will provide an early test for his double ambitions five weeks ahead of the demanding US selection trials for Doha. Coleman, 23, has a 19.85 personal best, but hasn't raced over the distance in almost two years.
He'll be facing South African Clarence Munyai who's gone even faster, clocking 19.69 at altitude in Pretoria in March 2018, less than a month after his 20th birthday.
The field also includes Rio silver medallist Andre De Grasse who'll be chasing another double in Ostrava, lining up in the 200m 65 minutes after headlining the field in the 100m A race. There, he'll face African champion Akani Simbine and Michael Rodgers of the US.
Over the full lap, Bahamian record holder Steven Gardiner will finally be making his season's debut where he'll face rising US star Kenny Bednarek who speed to a 19.82/44.73 altitude-assisted double victory at the US Junior College Championships one month ago.
Miller-Uibo chasing 300m world best
The headline act on the women's side is Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo who'll be making her career outdoor debut over the rarely-run 300m.
Besides her already long list of laurels at standard distances - 2016 Olympic 400m gold, 2017 world bronze and 2018 Commonwealth gold at 200m - Miller-Uibo equalled the world indoor best over 300m in New York last year, clocking 35.45. That performance trails only the outdoor world best of 35.30, set by Anna Guevara of Mexico in Mexico City in 2003. With 49.05 and 49.54 400m performances under her belt already this season, Guevara's world best in the event looks well within reach. The field includes European 400m champion Justyna Święty-Ersetic of Poland.
Moving up in distance, the women's 1500m features Ethiopia’s meeting record holder Gudaf Tsegay, who lowered her career best to 3:57.40 in Rabat last Sunday, and Moroccan Rababe Arafi, who lowered the national record to 3:58.84 in that Rabat race.
On the men's side, Samuel Tefera, the world indoor 1500m champion and world indoor record holder, will face Adam Kszczot, the world indoor 800m champion, in the 800m. It will be the Ethiopian's debut over the distance. And in the mile, Marcin Lewandowski returns to action to headline the field a week after his debut and victory over the distance in Oslo.
On the infield, world champion Sam Kendricks will put his five-meeting win streak on the line against Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski, who've both topped 5.81m this season, 10cm lower than Kendricks.
Juan Miguel Echevarria returns to Ostrava a year after crushing the meeting record with an 8.66m leap. The young Cuban won't be riding the same momentum this year, but he will arrive on the heels of an 8.34m season's best in Rabat where he collected his first international win of the season. He'll take on European indoor and outdoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece.
Wlodarcyzk chasing Ostrava victory No. 7
As has become tradition in Ostrava, the main programme kicks off with the hammer throw, part of the IAAF World Hammer Throw Challenge, named in honour of 2000 Olympic champion Kamila Skolimowska who passed away in 2009. But this year the event, which features the women's competition, takes place on the same day and in the main stadium for the first time.
World record holder Anita Wlodarcyzk (75.61m SB) will be making her 11th appearance in the meeting, chasing a seventh victory. She'll face Gwen Berry of the US, who's thrown 76.23m this season, and China's Wang Zheng, who reached 75.66m in April to take the Asian title.
In the javelin, the focus will fall on two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Barbora Spotakova who'll face her Czech compatriot Nikola Ogrodnikova, who improved her PB to 67.40m last month, and Croatia’s Olympic champion Sara Kolak who'll compete for the first time since 2017 after she was sidelined by elbow and shoulder problems in 2018.
Estonia's Magnus Kirt, the winner in Turku a week ago, heads the men's field.
Elsewhere, world leader Mariya Lasitskene (2.02m) heads the field in the women's high jump, and world champion Tomas Walsh tops a classy field in the men's shot put that includes Poles Michal Haratyk and Konrad Bukowiecki, who arrive with 22.18m, 21.98 and 21.97 season's bests, respectively.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF