Elaine Thompson en route to victory at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat (© Kirby Lee)
Seven recently minted champions will be among 27 individual Olympic medallists who will descend upon Lausanne’s Pontaise stadium when the IAAF Diamond League resumes with the 41st edition of the Athletissima meeting on Thursday (25).
Attracting perhaps the most attention will be Elaine Thompson, whose star rose considerably after her 100m and 200m triumphs at Rio’s Olympic Stadium, the first women’s Olympic sprint double victory in 28 years.
Here the 24-year-old will line up in the shorter dash and take on Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast and Christania Williams of Jamaica, who were fourth and eighth in Rio. Veronica Campbell-Brown, who has run 10.83 this season, should also be in the mix.
Meanwhile, Matt Centrowitz, the Rio 1500m winner, will make his first start as Olympic champion over the rarely run 1000m distance where an intriguing face-off against Asbel Kiprop awaits. The Kenyan, a three-time world 1500m champion, finished a disappointing sixth behind Centrowitz in Rio's tactical final, and will be eager to make amends here.
The field also includes Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, who was fourth in the Rio 1500m and is the world indoor record-holder for the 1000m.
A trio of Rio podium reunions
One of three Rio top-three reunions on the slate here comes in the women's shot, with Michelle Carter of the US taking on four-time world and two-time Olympic champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand and Hungary's Anita Marton. Carter launched a 20.63m area record to win in Rio, the best throw in the world this year.
In the women's 400m hurdles, Dalilah Muhammad will lead a Rio podium reunion just six days after the 26-year-old beat Denmark's Sara Slott Petersen and US compatriot Ashley Spencer in 53.13. Muhammad, the world leader at 52.88, is chasing her second IAAF Diamond League win of the season. Local eyes will follow European bronze medallist Lea Sprunger.
Organisers have gone one better in the men’s 110m hurdles, where the top four from Rio will line up: Olympic champion and Diamond Race leader Omar McLeod from Jamaica, silver medallist Orlando Ortega from Spain, and Frenchmen Dimitri Bascou and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, third and fourth respectively.
One hour before the race, McLeod will warm up in the 100m where he’ll face former world record-holder Asafa Powell. The race will mark McLeod’s first 100m appearance since his 9.99 run in late April.
And to round out the hurdles action, Keni Harrison returns to the track for the first time since her sensational 12.20 world record in the 100m hurdles in London on 22 July. The race, which isn't part of the Diamond Race, also includes Cindy Ofili of Great Britain, the Rio fourth-place finisher, and 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson.
Ibarguen and Bartoletta highlight jumps action
Another Rio champion headlines the women's triple jump. Caterine Ibarguen took top honours in the Brazilian city with a world-leading 15.17m effort, and will be targeting her fifth IAAF Diamond League victory of the season. The dominant figure in the event over the past four seasons, Ibarguen has only lost once in her past 37 competitions dating back to November 2012. Here, the fiercest challenge is expected from Kazakh Olga Rypakova who jumped to Olympic bronze in Rio.
Tianna Bartoletta and Ivana Spanovic, who took Rio gold and bronze respectively, lead the women's long jump. Bartoletta reached a 7.17m PB in Rio while Spanovic, the European champion and Diamond Race leader, leaped a 7.08m Serbian record.
Five of the top six finishers in the Rio men’s high jump competition are in Lausanne, with the spotlight falling on Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, the Olympic silver medallist, and Ukraine’s Bogdan Bondarenko, who took the bronze. Barshim arrives as the world leader at 2.40m.
In the men's pole vault, Renaud Lavillenie returns to action after his silver medal showing in Rio to chase his fourth IAAF Diamond League win of the season. In a dramatic competition, the Frenchman topped an outdoor season’s best of 5.98m but still come up short in defending his Olympic crown against an inspired Thiago Braz.
Here, he'll again square off against Canada’s world champion Shawn Barber, who'll be eager to bounce back from his disappointing 10th place showing where he topped out at just 5.50m. Olympic bronze medallist Sam Kendricks of the US is also in the field.
Rounding out the throws, the men’s discus throw field includes Poland's Piotr Malachowski and Germany's Daniel Jasinki, respectively the silver and bronze medallists in Rio. Malachowski leads the Diamond Race and a victory here could all but secure a third straight Diamond Trophy.
And in the women's javelin, South African Sunette Viljoen, the Olympic silver medallist, takes on Latvian Madara Palameika, the current Diamond Race leader. Maria Andrejczyk of Poland and Kathryn Mitchell of Australia, fourth and sixth respectively in Rio, are also in the field.
Back on the track, more names that entertained in Rio.
The women's 800m features Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Kenyan Margaret Wambui, the Olympic silver and bronze medallists, along with Canadian Melissa Bishop, who finished just another step back in fourth.
In the 3000m, the longest event on the women's programme, Genzebe Dibaba will command the spotlight as she follows up her runner-up finish in the Olympic 1500m final. Her stiffest challenge should come from Kenyan Mercy Cherono, the fourth-place finisher over 5000m in Rio.
USA's 2013 world champion Lashawn Merritt, who raced to Olympic bronze in the 400m, leads that event here.
And in the men's 3000m steeplechase, two-time Diamond Race winner Jairus Birech, former world junior champion Barnabas Kipyego and Olympic finalist Brimin Kipruto – all Kenyans – will be the men to watch.
Outside of the Diamond Race events, the men’s 400m hurdles will feature Olympic silver medallist Boniface Tumuti of Kenya.
The forecast calls for nearly ideal conditions with clear skies and a daytime high of 29C and dipping to 26C by meeting’s end.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF