David Rudisha winning the 600m at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
A further 12 stars have confirmed that they will appear at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham on 5 June, including world champions Dafne Schippers and David Rudisha, organisers announced on Thursday (7).
World 200m champion Dafne Schippers will compete at the Alexander Stadium for the first time when she lines up against British record-holder Dina Asher-Smith in the 100m.
“2016 is a very important year for me with the Olympic Games taking place in Brazil," said Schippers. "The Birmingham Diamond League will be a good race to test myself early in the season and start the road to Rio. I’m looking forward to competing in front of another great British crowd and hopefully continuing my form from last year into this summer.”
Asher-Smith will return to the Alexander Stadium for the first time since setting a championship record on her way to claiming the British title in 2015. She set five British records in 2015 and at last year’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham she ran a superb 200m to finish third behind nine-time world champion Allyson Felix in an extremely close race.
“I’m so excited to be running at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting on 5 June," said Asher-Smith. "I had so much fun last year and it was a great opportunity to be able to race against some of the best women in the world. I expect it to be a strong field and I’m looking forward to challenging myself over the 100m."
Kenya’s 800m world record-holder David Rudisha will step down to 600m as he prepares to defend his Olympic title in Rio later this year. The world champion won over the same distance in his last appearance in Birmingham two years ago, clocking a PB of 1:13.71.
“I loved running 600m at the Birmingham Diamond League in 2014 and I'm really looking forward to doing it again," said Rudisha. "The athletes always get amazing support at British events and running 600m is a good part of my preparations this Olympic Year. My training has been going well and I am looking forward to a good year.”
His compatriot Asbel Kiprop will make only his second appearance in Birmingham following victory in the Emsley Carr Mile in 2014.
“I have great memories of winning the mile at the Birmingham Diamond League in 2014 and hopefully I can run well again this year," said the three-time world 1500m champion. "2016 is a huge year for me, I want to win back the Olympic title and challenge my personal best. Birmingham will be an important race for me to see how my training has been going.”
Adams aims to complete her hat-trick
New Zealand’s Valerie Adams will be one of the main attractions in the field events. The two-time Olympic shot put champion holds the stadium record at the Alexander Stadium with 20.52m and has twice won at this event before, in 2012 and 2014.
European 200m champion Adam Gemili will return to the scene of his first sub-10-second performance to compete over 100m again. The 22-year-old finished second with a time of 9.97 in 2015 and is hoping for another good run this time round.
“Last year running sub-10 for the first time in front of the Birmingham crowd was an amazing experience," he said. "I’m looking forward to returning to Birmingham in June to test myself against a strong field over 100m and set myself up for such an important season.”
European 800m silver medallist Lynsey Sharp will be aiming for her second victory at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham. The 25-year-old has won three British titles at the Alexander Stadium and had a breakthrough performance at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League meeting there when she defeated a world-class field in a time of 1:59.14.
The Commonwealth silver medallist will go up against some of the best 800m runners in the world including the newly crowned world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba, 2013 world champion Eunice Sum, world indoor silver medallist Ajee Wilson and world indoor 1500m champion Sifan Hassan.
“I’m really looking forward to facing such a strong field at the Birmingham Diamond League in June," said Sharp. "I’ve got great memories of winning in Birmingham in 2014 and hopefully I can run well again this time round. Everything is geared towards Rio and this is an important race in my build up."
Further British interest will come from European 100m hurdles champion Tiffany Porter, who claimed a third successive world indoor championships 60m hurdles medal last month.
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