US high jumper Vashti Cunningham (© Kirby Lee)
World indoor high jump champion Vashti Cunningham’s outdoor professional debut at the Prefontaine Classic is set to be one of the most eagerly awaited performances at the IAAF Diamond League meeting on 28 May.
The 18-year-old will face the four women who matched her height of 1.96m at the recent IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016, where Cunningham took gold having had no misses up to and including that height.
Having equalled the world U18 best of 1.96m last year, Cunningham set a world indoor U20 record of 1.99m to win the US indoor title last month. Only four other under-20 athletes have ever gone higher outdoors, the last of which was in 1989.
Ruth Beitia may be twice Cunningham’s age, but she is the closest at matching her this year. The 37-year-old Spaniard earned her second world indoor silver medal last month. Beitia, the 2015 Diamond Race winner, will be seeking a third consecutive European title this summer in preparation for the Rio Olympics.
Poland’s Kamila Licwinko won the 2014 world indoor title and took bronze in Portland last month. She holds national records indoors and out with marks of 2.02m and 1.99m respectively.
Lithuania’s Airine Palsyte also cleared 1.96m at the recent World Indoor Championships but had to settle for fourth place on countback. The 23-year-old won the World University Games title last year and has a best of 1.98m.
Alessia Trost of Italy has won gold medals at the 2009 World Youth Championships and 2012 World Junior Championships. Last year she won her second European under-23 title and was the silver medallist at the European Indoor Championships. Her lifetime best of 2.00m was set indoors in 2013 when she was 19 years old.
St Lucia’s Levern Spencer is the Pan-American Games champion and has a best of 1.98m. She has twice taken bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games and has reached the final of the past four global championships.
Germany’s Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch set a lifetime best of 1.99m when finishing sixth at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. The 25-year-old was the winner of her event in this year’s IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Isobel Pooley is the Commonwealth silver medallist and holds the outdoor British record at 1.97m.
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL