Ryan Crouser spinning to a meeting record in the shot put at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Victah Sailer)
The Prefontaine Classic is the next stop for the IAAF Diamond League, but while Eugene’s Hayward Field undergoes restoration in anticipation of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Oregon21, this year’s meeting moves south to Palo Alto, California and Stanford’s Cobb Track and Angell Field.
Crouser, Walsh, Hill and Haratyk to clash in shot put
The men’s shot put line-up would make any meeting organiser proud, let alone any Olympic or World Championship final. It boasts USA’s Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, who also has the leading throw in the world this year at 22.74m, and New Zealand’s world champion Tom Walsh, whose season’s best of 22.27m is second only to Crouser in 2019.
Joining them will be US champion Darrell Hill and 2015 world champion Joe Kovacs, European champion Michal Haratyk of Poland, world U20 record-holder Konrad Bukowieki, Brazil’s Continental Cup winner Darlan Romani, world indoor bronze medallist Tomas Stanek and newcomer Payton Otterdahl, who threw 21.81m indoors earlier this year.
Led by China’s world champion Gong Lijiao, who leads the world with 19.84m, and rising star Chase Ealey, who won in Shanghai and has a best of 19.67m this year, the women’s shot put will be just as competitive as the men’s.
US champion Maggie Ewen will contest, as will Poland’s European champion Paulina Guba, Hungary’s world indoor champion Anita Marton, Germany’s 2015 world champion Christina Schwantiz, Jamaica’s 2018 Commonwealth champion Danniel Thomas-Dodd and Aliona Dubitskaya from Belarus, the European bronze medallist.
The USA’s Sam Kendricks heads the men’s pole vault field in what is becoming a must-watch event as the youngsters keep gaining on the veterans.
Sweden’s European champion Armand Duplantis is at the top of that list for Kendricks, but also for world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie, Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil and Polish record-holder Piotr Lisek.
The watch doesn’t end with Duplantis, as USA’s Chris Nilsen is on a hot streak after his 5.95m earlier this month at the NCAA Championships topped Duplantis’s 5.80m. Don’t dismiss Renaud’s brother Valentin and another young US vaulter, Cole Walsh, either as both have cleared 5.81m this year.
Benjamin and McMaster clash over the barriers
Lingering bursitis has prevented world No.1 Abderrahman Samba from competing in the 400m hurdles in Stanford, meaning USA’s Rai Benjamin will start as the clear favourite. Benjamin, the third-fastest man in history at the event, won in Rome earlier this month in a season’s best of 47.58.
He will face world No.3 and two-time Diamond trophy winner Kyron McMaster, who ran 49.12 in Oslo, world silver medallist Yasmani Copello, and Olympic champion Kerron Clement.
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech will try to fend off the challenge from world champion Emma Coburn and North American record-holder Courtney Frerichs, but the assault will not be limited to the US duo.
Chepkoech’s compatriots Celliphine Chespol, who set the world U20 record at the 2017 Prefontaine Classic, Norah Jeruto, who beat Chepkoech in Oslo, and 2015 world champion Hyvin Kiyeng will certainly challenge.
In the 3000m flat, Ethiopia’s world and Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana will be making her first competitive appearance on the track since 2017. She is jumping right in at the deep end, too, as she’ll face world 1500m record-holder Genzebe Dibaba and world 5000m and cross-country champion Helen Obiri.
Dibaba, who won the 1500m at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Rome and Rabat, is in prime fitness and will want to avenge her loss to Obiri over 3000m in Doha last month. Obiri, meanwhile, will be keen to make amends after falling in the 5000m in Stockholm and trailing home in 12th place.
Others to keep an eye on are European 5000m champion Sifan Hassan, who ran 3:55.93 to finish runner-up to Dibaba over 1500m in Rabat, and Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen.
Although the likes of Dibaba and Hassan will be contesting the 3000m, the women's 1500m is still brimming with quality. World and Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon will return from maternity leave to take on European champion Laura Muir, 2018 Prefontaine Classic winner Shelby Houlihan and Ethiopian duo Gudaf Tsegay and Axumawit Embaye.
Richardson vs Fraser-Pryce, Thompson vs Asher-Smith, Norman vs Kerley
All sprint fields in Stanford are, unsurprisingly, loaded.
Fresh from setting world U20 records of 10.75 and 22.17 at the NCAA Championships, USA’s Sha-Carri Richardson will make her professional debut in Stanford. The 19-year-old lines up in the women’s 100m and will face the resurgent Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who clocked 10.73 at the recent Jamaican Championships.
USA’s world champion Tori Bowie, US champion Aleia Hobbs and double world silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou are also in the line-up.
The women’s 200m is also stacked. Jamaica’s double Olympic champion and world leader Elaine Thompson, who last week won the Jamaican 100m and 200m titles in 10.73 and 22.00, goes up against double European champion Dina Asher Smith, who convincingly beat Thompson in Stockholm, two-time world champion Dafne Schippers, and world 400m No.1 Salwa Eid Naser.
The USA’s Michael Norman has been pegged as the possible next world record-holder in the 400m after his stellar 2018 season and his 43.45 season opener in April. But Diamond League champion Fred Kerley won in Shanghai last month and recently ran 44.49 in Kingston to show that he is also in good condition. 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, meanwhile, will be contesting his first 400m race since the 2017 World Championships.
Christian Coleman, who ran 9.86 in Shanghai and improved it with a world-leading 9.85 in Oslo, headlines the men’s 100m field. The world indoor champion will take on world champion Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers, European champion Zharnel Hughes, Italian record-holder Filippo Tortu and recent University of Oregon graduate Cravon Gillespie.
Cheruiyot defends Bowerman Mile title against host of global champions
Timothy Cheruiyot was a convincing winner of the Bowerman Mile at last year’s Prefontaine Classic and went on to win the Diamond trophy later in the year.
The Kenyan will defend his mile honour in Stanford but will face a tough field that includes world champion Elijah Manangoi, who beat Cheriuyot in Doha last month, world indoor mile record-holder Yomif Kejelcha, Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz, 2014 world indoor champion and 2018 Prefontaine Classic champion Ayanleh Souleiman and Norwegian wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the European 1500m and 5000m champion.
Elsewhere, Mariya Lasitskene heads the women’s high jump field and will be competing for the first time since clearing 2.09m in Ostrava, Diamond League 5000m champion Selemon Barega faces Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo and world cross-country champion Joshua Cheptegei in the two-mile event, Caster Semenya lines up for the 800m, and Omar McLeod takes on Orlando Ortega in the men’s 110m hurdles.
Brian Russell for the IAAF