Sandra Perkovic at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
Fans at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 13 May, the second stop of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League series, will be treated to a unique event when the best male and female discus throwers in the world compete together for the first time ever at a top-level track and field meeting.
The men’s and women’s discus events in Shanghai will be held as part of a single competition, with alternating men’s and women’s rounds.
Meeting director Ellen van Langen described the innovative format as an important part of the IAAF Diamond League series’ ongoing attempts to become more appealing to stadium fans and TV viewers.
“We are very excited that the Shanghai Diamond League meeting is the first competition ever where we will see men and women competing at the same time,” she said. “It’s another important step in improving the attractiveness of the Diamond League series overall.”
The discus is one of the events in this year’s new-look IAAF Diamond League to be held at just four meetings prior to the discipline's IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels on 1 September, meaning the results in Shanghai take on even greater importance as athletes try to accumulate valuable points.
Discus events for men and women will also be held at the Oslo and Stockholm meetings, while the fourth men’s event will be in London and the fourth women’s contest in Birmingham.
Among the global stars who are hoping to shine in Shanghai’s unique competition is Olympic champion Christoph Harting of Germany, Croatia's two-time Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic and world champion Denia Cabellero.
Perkovic will be particularly keen to prove her mettle as she mixes it among the men, for the Croatian has a fantastic record in the Shanghai Stadium.
She has won the Shanghai women’s discus contest three times in a row, setting national records in both 2012 and 2014, while she breached 70 metres in 2014 and last May when her fourth-round effort reached 70.88m, the longest throw in the world in 2016.
Cabellero was third in Shanghai last year before going on to take Olympic bronze and the Cuban should be the main threat to Perkovic on 13 May.
The field also includes the woman who snatched silver in Rio, Melina Robert-Michon of France, whose long career includes one third place in Shanghai in 2014, and Germany’s world bronze medallist Nadine Müller who is making her Shanghai debut.
Harting will face Poland’s world and European champion Piotr Malachowski, world and European silver medallist Philip Milanov of Belgium, Olympic bronze medallist Daniel Jasinski and world bronze medallist Robert Urbanek.
With two such world-class fields and an intriguing new style of competition, the discus events are set to take centre-stage in Shanghai like never before.
Organisers for the IAAF
2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar
5 May – Doha, QAT
13 May – Shanghai, CHN
27 May – Eugene, USA
8 Jun – Rome, ITA
15 Jun – Oslo, NOR
18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
1 Jul – Paris, FRA
6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
9 Jul – London, GBR
16 Jul – Rabat, MAR
21 Jul – Monaco, MON
20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
24 Aug – Zurich, SUI
1 Sep – Brussels, BEL