Pole Vault world record holder Renaud Lavillenie will kick off his 2015 IAAF Diamond League campaign at the Doha 2015 meeting on Friday 15 May, one of four reigning Olympic champions organisers announced today for the opening competition of the 14-meeting series.
There’s not a bigger name in the world of men’s track and field at the moment than that of Lavillenie, who has won the Diamond Race Trophy in the event in each of the series’ first five seasons.
“I’m really looking forward to competing in Doha. The conditions at the Qatar Sports Club can be very good for pole vaulting so I’ll certainly try to win and beat the meeting record,” said the 28-year-old Frenchman, who scaled a world record 6.16m in Donetsk, Ukraine, in February 2014.
Lavillenie cleared six metres or better in five of his nine competitions indoors this year, capped by a 6.04m clearance in Prague last weekend to win his fourth straight European indoor title. One of the sport’s most dominant figures, Lavillenie has won 33 of his 34 competitions since the 2013 World Championships in Moscow where he was beaten into second place by Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe.
The German, who also claimed Olympic and European bronze in 2012, will also be in the field. The 25-year-old has topped 5.91m twice, most recently in Rome in 2013.
The field will also include Konstantinos Filippidis of Greece, the 2014 world indoor champion who raised the Doha meeting record in 5.82m in 2013, a national record. Indoors this year he cleared a season’s best 5.75m to finish fifth at the European indoors.
“We have set high standards in organising such an important and prestigious sporting event in previous years and we aim to continue in 2015 as well, at the highest possible level.
“We have proved on numerous occasions that we have the expertise and the know-how to successfully deliver what we pledge; we have the means to justify our role as a key and trusted partner of IAAF, especially since we were recently honoured to stage the 2019 IAAF World Championships”, commented the President of the Qatar Athletics Federation Mr. Dahlan Al Hamad.
Rollins, Pearson and Harper-Nelson to Lead Superb Women’s 100-metre Hurdles Field
Lavillenie will be joined in Doha by fellow London 2012 gold medallists Sally Pearson, Sanya Richards-Ross and Christian Taylor.
But such is the strength in the women’s 100 metre hurdles that Pearson, at 12.28 the fifth fastest ever in the event, won’t be considered the only woman to beat.
Brianna Rollins, history’s third fastest courtesy of her scintillating 12.26 performance at the 2013 U.S. championships and Dawn Harper-Nelson, the defending Diamond Race winner and fastest hurdler in 2014 are of the same calibre as Pearson.
“This field is going to be really, really strong,” said Rollins, who followed up her area record run by racing to World championships gold later that summer.
“It’s going to be the perfect early season test as I prepare to defend my world title.”
With a 12.53 season’s best, Rollins wasn’t as fast in 2014, a campaign in which Harper-Nelson proved to be not only the fastest but the most consistent as well.
The 2008 Olympic champion – Harper-Nelson followed up by taking silver in London four years later with a 12.37 personal best— led the world at 12.44 last season, won her third successive Diamond Race Trophy and ended the year with a win at the Continental Cup.
Australian Pearson however, who also took the world title in 2011 and finished second two years later, cannot be discounted.
Another entrant from the quick U.S. stable is Queen Harrison, a 2013 World championship finalist with a 12.43 career best from that year. Tiffany Porter, the 2014 European champion, is also in the field.
Can Gatlin’s Momentum Continue?
The men’s 100m features another Olympic champion, Justin Gatlin, the winner in 2004 in Athens. Last season the 33-year-old American re-emerged as the world’s top sprinter by producing the year’s fastest times in both the 100m and 200m clocking 9.77 and 19.68 respectively. Underscoring his dominance, he was undefeated in fifteen 100m races and three over 200m.
“I love racing in Doha,” said Gatlin, the event’s Diamond Race winner in 2013 and 2014. He won here in 2012, three months before racing to Olympic bronze in London.
“The track, the conditions and the crowd always help make a fast race. Hopefully we can do that again this season.”
The field will include Kim Collins, the 2003 world champion, who is also illustrating that sprinters can improve with age. Collins, who was unbeaten in nine 60m races this winter, improved his career best to 9.96 last season. He’ll be 39 when he starts in Doha.
Jamaican colours will be represented by Nesta Carter, a two-time Olympic and world gold medallist in the 4x100m relay with a 9.78 best to his credit.
Meanwhile local attention will fall on Qatari record holder Femi Ogunode, who broke the Asian record with his 9.93 victory at the Asian Games in Incheon last September. Ogunode will celebrate his 24th birthday on the day of the meet.
The field will also include U.S. champion Michael Rodgers.
Richards-Ross vs McCorory and Williams-Mills Over the Full Lap
In the women’s 400m, Sanya Richards-Ross will be chasing her first Diamond Trophy, the only major accolade missing from the London Olympic champion’s mighty trophy cabinet.
The U.S. record holder at 48.70 since 2006, Richards-Ross sped 49.66 last year to end 2014 as the season’s second fastest. She only trailed compatriot Francena McCorory who ran a 49.48 career best to take the national title. Three months earlier McCorory took the world indoor title in the event.
They’ll face Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica, whose consistency last season led her to the Diamond Race title. A 50.05 performer last year, she clocked her 49.63 personal best in 2006.
Taylor to Take on a Formidable French Duo
After winning his third straight Diamond Race Trophy last season, Christian Taylor will start as the favourite in the men’s triple jump. Last year the 24-year-old American reached 17.51m to end the season as the fourth farthest jumper in the world. He has a career best of 17.96m which propelled him to the world title in Daegu in 2011.
In Doha, he’ll face a formidable French duo. Benjamin Compaore produced a strong campaign in 2014, taking the European title in August and victory at the Continental Cup three weeks later where he improved his best to 17.48m.
Teddy Tamgho meanwhile returns to action this outdoor season hoping to pick up where he left off after winning the 2013 world title with a 18.04m personal best. With that leap, the 25-year-old became one of just three men to have sailed beyond the 18-metre barrier. Tamgho is also the world indoor record holder at 17.92m, a jump that propelled him to the continental indoor title in 2011.
The field also includes Cuba’s Pablo Pichardo, the 2013 World silver medallist.
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