Elaine Thompson winning the 100m at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne (© Gladys von der Laage)
Sprint fans are in for a treat at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on Saturday on 13 May when some of the fastest men and women on the planet will be burning up the track in the hunt for early season points in the IAAF Diamond League.
Eight Olympic finalists will appear in the men’s 200m and women’s 100m in Shanghai with four past or present Olympic champions among them.
Star billing goes to double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson who returns to China for the first time since taking the silver medal over 200m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.
The 24-year-old went on to make history when she became the first Jamaican woman to take two Olympic sprint golds by storming to victory twice in Rio last summer.
She equalled her nation’s 100m record when she clocked 10.70 at the Jamaican Championships in early July and remained unbeaten over the shorter sprint throughout 2016.
That’s a record she will be keen to maintain in Shanghai when she faces a world-class field that includes Olympic silver medallist Tori Bowie, plus world and Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta, and Olympic 100m and 200m finalists Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago and Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast.
Bowie went on to take the bronze medal in the 200m in Rio and claimed a relay gold for USA alongside Bartoletta, while Ta Lou and Ahye placed fourth and sixth respectively in both the 100m and 200m finals. Ta Lou set personal bests in both Olympic finals, breaking her national record in the 200m when she ran 22.21.
Add to the mix the experienced Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion and 2011 world 200m champion, and Thompson will have a fight on her hands to claim maximum points on her Shanghai Diamond League debut.
The scrap for points could be even tighter in the men’s 200m, which features the sprinters who placed fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in the Olympic half-lap final.
Britain’s 2014 European champion Adam Gemili was the man who just missed out on an Olympic medal when he finished fourth ahead of the Netherland’s European 100m champion Churandy Martina. USA’s two-time world and 2008 Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt was sixth in the Olympic 200m final while Panama’s 2009 world silver medallist Alonso Edward was seventh.
All four will meet again in Shanghai where they will be joined on the start line by two more sub-20-second men – Olympic semi-finalist Ameer Webb of USA and Jamaica’s Julian Forte – plus Chinese record-holder Xie Zhenye, who made the 100m semi-finals in Rio and helped China to fourth place in the 4x100m.
Two world champions will meet in the men’s 100m, a non-Diamond League event, when Kim Collins and Justin Gatlin go head-to-head. Su Bingtian, another Olympic semi-finalist, will give the home crowd plenty to cheer as he aims to get close to his own national record of 9.99.
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