Renaud Lavillenie at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels (© Gladys von der Laage)
Pole vault world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie will start his 2015 IAAF Diamond League campaign at the Doha 2015 meeting on Friday 15 May, organisers announced on Sunday (15).
Lavillenie will be hoping to keep up his unbeaten streak in the Diamond Race, having won the trophy in each of the first five seasons of the competition.
“I’m really looking forward to competing in Doha. The conditions at the Qatar Sports Club can be very good for pole vaulting so I’ll certainly try to win and beat the meeting record,” said the 28-year-old Frenchman.
Lavillenie cleared six metres or better five times this winter, topped by a 6.04m clearance in Prague last weekend to win his fourth straight European indoor title.
He has won 33 of his 34 competitions since the 2013 IAAF World Championships, when he was beaten into second place by Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe.
The German will also be in the Doha field as will Greece’s world indoor champion Konstantinos Filippidis, who raised the Doha meeting record to 5.82m in 2013, a national record.
“We have set high standards in organising such an important and prestigious sporting event in previous years and we aim to continue in 2015 as well, at the highest possible level,” commented the president of the Qatar Athletics Federation, Dahlan Al Hamad.
“We have proved on numerous occasions that we have the expertise and the know-how to successfully deliver what we pledge; we have the means to justify our role as a key and trusted partner of the IAAF, especially since we were recently honoured to stage the 2019 IAAF World Championships,” he added.
Lavillenie will be joined in Doha by fellow Olympic champions Sally Pearson, Sanya Richards-Ross and Christian Taylor.
Pearson, at 12.28 the fifth-fastest ever in the 10m hurdles, faces Brianna Rollins, history’s third fastest courtesy of her 12.26 winning performance at the 2013 US Championships, and 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson, the defending Diamond Race champion and fastest hurdler in 2014.
“It’s going to be the perfect early season test as I prepare to defend my world title,” said Rollins, who won at the 2013 IAAF World Championships. Another quick US entrant is Queen Harrison and Great Britain’s Tiffany Porter, the European champion, is also in the field.
Richards-Ross chasing first Diamond Race
In the women’s 400m, Sanya Richards-Ross will be chasing her first Diamond Race, the only major accolade missing from the Olympic champion’s trophy cabinet.
The US record-holder at 48.70 since 2006, Richards-Ross sped to 49.66 last year and ended 2014 as the season’s second-fastest woman over one lap of the track.
She only trailed compatriot Francena McCorory who ran a 49.48 and who will also be in Doha. McCorory also took the 2014 world indoor title in the event.
They’ll face Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica, whose consistency last season won her the Diamond Race.
After winning his third straight Diamond Race last season, Taylor will start as the slight favourite in the men’s triple jump, but in Doha he’ll face a formidable French duo.
Benjamin Compaore produced a strong campaign in 2014, taking the European title in August and then victory at the Continental Cup three weeks later, where he improved his best to 17.48m.
Teddy Tamgho meanwhile returns to action this outdoor season hoping to pick up where he left off after winning the 2013 world title with a 18.04m personal best to become one of just three men to have sailed beyond the 18-metre barrier.
The field also includes Cuba’s Pablo Pichardo, the world silver medallist behind Tamgho.
The men’s 100m features another Olympic champion of an earlier vintage, Justin Gatlin, the winner in 2004.
Last season the 33-year-old US athlete re-emerged as the world’s top sprinter by going undefeated through the year producing the year’s fastest times in both the 100m and 200m, clocking 9.77 and 19.68 respectively.
The field will include the evergreen Kim Collins, the 2003 world champion, who was unbeaten in nine 60m races this winter and improved his career best to 9.96 last season.
Jamaica will be represented by Nesta Carter, a two-time Olympic and World Championships 4x100m gold medallist with a 9.78 best to his credit.
Local attention will fall on Asian record-holder Femi Ogunode, will celebrate his 24th birthday on the day of the Doha meeting. The Qatari ran 9.93 for victory at the Asian Games in Incheon last September.
Organisers for the IAAF
2015 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 15 May
Shanghai, CHN – 17 May
Eugene, USA – 30 May
Rome, ITA – 4 June
Birmingham, GBR – 7 June
Oslo, NOR – 11 June
New York, USA – 13 June
Paris, FRA – 4 July
Lausanne, SUI – 9 July
Monaco, MON – 17 July
London, GBR – 24-25 July
Stockholm, SWE – 30 July
Zurich, SUI – 3 September
Brussels, BEL – 11 September