Omar McLeod en route to winning the 110m hurdles at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
A roll call of recent champions and record breakers will line up in Shanghai for the two hurdles events at the IAAF Diamond League meeting on 13 May when Olympic champions Omar McLeod and Kerron Clement face tough early season tests at the start of their 2017 campaigns.
Sprint hurdler McLeod produced the world’s fastest time of the season to win the Shanghai meeting’s traditional closing event 12 months ago, the Jamaican clocking 12.98 to grab the hurdles headlines ahead of two world champions and the world record-holder.
The 22-year-old will have to be at his best again this year as he faces a field worthy of any global final.
Spain’s Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega could provide the main opposition, but it will be a hard race to call with a line-up including 2013 world champion David Oliver, 2012 Olympic champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt, world champion Sergey Shubenkov, world silver medallist Hansle Parchment and China’s Asian Games champion Xie Wenjun.
Ortega was second behind Oliver in Shanghai two years ago but will be looking to make amends in 2017 after being disqualified for a false start last year. He went on to win the 2016 Diamond Race Trophy with late-season victories in Lausanne and Brussels.
Merritt also false started in 2016 and is yet to win the Shanghai event in five appearances. Parchment was second last year, while Oliver triumphed in both 2010 and 2015 but could only place fifth last May.
It will be just as tough for Clement to take maximum points in the one-lap hurdles where the two-time world champion takes on the two men who joined him on the Olympic podium last year – Bonface Mucheru of Kenya and Turkey’s Yasmani Copello, who set national records to take silver and bronze respectively.
Clement placed seventh in Shanghai last year but went to win the Diamond Race for 400m hurdles with victories in London and Zurich. Mucheru picked up the African title, while Copello won European gold in Amsterdam last July.
Mucheru’s Olympic final run improved the Kenyan record set by Nicholas Bett to win the 2015 world title. After being disqualified in the Olympic heats, Bett will want to make a positive start in 2017 as he returns to Shanghai after finishing out of the points in sixth place last year.
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