Commanding 19.78 win for Tyson Gay in Lausanne (© Getty Images)
Fresh from setting world-leading marks in both sprints at the US Championships last month, Tyson Gay returns on Thursday (4) to Lausanne’s Athletissima meeting, the eighth leg of the IAAF Diamond League, keen to maintain his 2013 winning streak.
Gay hasn’t raced since winning the US sprint double with times of 9.75 for 100m and 19.74 for 200m. A win in Lausanne will be a good omen, because his only victory on this track to date came in 2007, just weeks before he won three gold medals at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka.
At this year’s edition of Athletissima, Gay will contest the 100m where he will be up against a trio of tough Jamaicans, comprising former World record-holder Asafa Powell, World 200m finalist Nickel Ashmeade and 9.96 man Kemar Bailey-Cole. Former World champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, two-time US champion Mike Rodgers and France's European indoor champion Jimmy Vicaut are also in the race.
Gay is one of a number of recent winners from the US Championships present in Lausanne who will be competing in Europe for the first time since their triumph in Des Moines two weeks ago.
US 200m champion Kimberlyn Duncan, who sensationally beat London 2012 Olympic Games champion Allyson Felix to the national title, will be making her professional debut over the distance. World 100m champion and US team mate Carmelita Jeter will line up alongside her, but may not yet be in her best form after mid-season injury. Ukraine's 2012 European champion Mariya Ryemyen may prove to be Duncan’s toughest rival.
Birmingham rematches abound
The previous leg of the IAAF Diamond League took place less than a week ago in Birmingham, but many of the key clashes from that meeting will be replicated in Lausanne.
Perhaps the most exciting of those will be the men’s Triple Jump.
Last weekend, the USA's World and Olympic champion Christian Taylor managed to hold off World indoor record-holder Teddy Tamgho, but the Frenchman had two massive fouls.
If Tamgho gets it right on the night, he could threaten his own Athletissima meeting record of 17.91m from 2011. Also in the field are the two top Cuban jumpers at present, world leader Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Ernesto Reve.
Ethiopians Yenew Alamirew and Hagos Gebrhiwet were out-sprinted last weekend in Birmingham by double Olympic champion Mo Farah in the 5000m. The Briton may be absent from Lausanne, but Alamirew and Gebrhiwet face an equally tough challenge over the same distance in the form of two other Ethiopians, 2012 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Tariku Bekele and Olympic 5000m silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel.
Australia’s World and Olympic champion Sally Pearson was relegated to fourth in a close 100m Hurdles race in Birmingham, beaten by 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson, 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Kellie Wells and 2012 World indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter. In Lausanne the quartet will do battle again, with further quality in the field from two-time World indoor champion Lolo Jones and 2012 US Championships bronze medallist Nia Ali.
In Birmingham, 2008 Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu handed World champion Amantle Montsho her first defeat this year over 400m. The Briton will be given another chance to chase down the Botswanan in Lausanne, with US champion Natasha Hastings also a strong threat.
Last year's World indoor Shot Put champion Ryan Whiting has only suffered two losses this year, both of them to US compatriot Reese Hoffa. The 2007 World champion beat Whiting in Birmingham last weekend and will be eager to do so again. Germany’s David Storl will also be keen to put down a big marker as he builds towards his World title defence in Moscow.
The women’s 3000m Steeplechase is another event where the top three from Birmingham will be present.
On that occasion, Milcah Chemos sprinted away from Ethiopian duo Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew to break the meeting record, and the Kenyan could well have her own Lausanne meeting record of 9:19.87 in her sights.
Perkovic and Aregawi on brink of Diamond Race victory
Discus thrower Sandra Perkovic and 1500m runner Abeba Aregawi are both just one victory away from taking the overall win in the Diamond Race in their respective events.
Perkovic’s goal for the season is to remain undefeated and she is well on her way to achieving that. Croatia's 2012 Olympic champion has six wins to her name this season, four of them in Diamond League competitions. A win in Lausanne would bring her points tally to an unassailable lead, irrespective of what happens in the remaining meetings in the series.
The same applies for Sweden’s Aregawi, who coincidentally has notched up wins at the exact same four Diamond League meetings as Perkovic – Doha, New York, Rome and Birmingham.
Olympic medallists clash
Along with the men’s Shot and women’s 100m Hurdles, there are two other events in Lausanne that boast the full set of London 2012 Olympic medallists.
Since the men’s 400m Hurdles final at the London Games, there have only been two rematches between the three medallists: Felix Sanchez, Michael Tinsley and Javier Culson. In Zurich last year Sanchez finished ahead of Culson and Tinsley, but in Birmingham last weekend it was Puerto Rico’s Culson who triumphed with Tinsley third and Sanchez a distant seventh.
The trio line up against each other again in Lausanne, with 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson of the USA thrown in for good measure.
London 2012 Olympic Pole Vault medallists Renaud Lavillenie, Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe have competed against each other on numerous occasions, and more often than not it is Frenchman Lavillenie who takes the glory from his German rivals. He has won in Lausanne for the past three years but is yet to break Brad Walker’s meeting record of 5.91m.
The only other event with three Olympic medallists from London 2012 is the men’s High Jump, although Russia's Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov won’t be present. Instead, USA's Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard will face Canada and Great Britain's joint bronze medallists Derek Drouin and Robbie Grabarz. however, they will have to be at their best to beat the in-form Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko, who has won six of his seven competitions this year and is fresh from a personal best and European-leading of 2.36m in Birmingham.
Reese out for redemption
Like Gay and Duncan, the reigning World and Olympic Long Jump champion Brittney Reese hasn’t competed since the US Championships but, unlike her team-mates, she had an experience in Des Moines she’ll be keen to forget as she recorded three no-jumps.
Reese, who set a Diamond League record of 7.25m in Doha earlier in the year, was also defeated in Lausanne last year, but won in 2010 and 2011. This year she will be up against Russia's 2012 Olympic silver medallist Yelena Sokolova, British record-holder Shara Proctor and the in-form Nigerian Blessing Okagbare.
Elsewhere, Norway's two-time Olympic Javelin champion Andreas Thorkildsen could be set for a second consecutive Diamond League win after his success in Birmingham last weekend, but Russia’s Dimitri Tarabin and Ukrainian record-`holder Roman Avramenko should make it a close contest.
Botswana's 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana will contest his first 800m of the season, and he will have to be close to his best to challenge Ethiopia's 2012 World indoor champion Mohammed Aman.
In the non-Diamond League events, 110m hurdler Ryan Wilson is another newly-crowned US champion making his 2013 European debut. He will be up against two of the men he beat to the national title in Des Moines: 2011 World champion Jason Richardson and David Oliver.
The men’s 200m features four athletes with sub-20 bests. One of those, US sprinter Isiah Young, has broken that barrier this year with his 19.86 at the US Championships. He’ll be against Jamaica’s Jason Young and The Netherlands' 2012 European champion Churandy Martina.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF