Reigning World and Olympic 100 metres champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce will kick off her 2014 IAAF Diamond League campaign at the Doha 2014 meeting on Friday 9 May.
There’s not a bigger name in the world of women’s sprinting at the moment than the 27-year-old Jamaican who dashed to the World Indoor 60m title in Sopot, Poland one week ago, just seven months after winning global titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m Relay at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. Her illustrious performance at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, coupled with victories in 11 of her 14 finals over 100 and 200m led to her selection as the 2013 World Athlete of the Year.
“I enjoy running in Doha,” said Fraser-Pryce, whose long list of accolades includes back-to-back Olympic 100m titles from 2008 and 2012. “The stadium is close and intimate which makes you feel connected with the fans.”
Her appearance in the opening event of the fifth season of the IAAF Diamond League series takes on added meaning as she sets out to defend her unprecedented 100m and 200m double Diamond Race victory from 2013.
“The 200 metres is the event I want to get better at. I am doing okay but I believe there is a lot more to give, so this season a lot will be placed on being better and faster at the 200 metres.
“Capturing another double would definitely top the year for me. Let's see what happens.”
Fraser-Pryce won the 200m in Doha last year, a victory that set her on course towards her first world title in the longer sprint. In 2012 she also sped to Olympic silver over the distance.
This season, making her third appearance in Doha, Fraser-Pryce will contest the 100m against what is already shaping into a formidable field.
Moscow double dash finalist Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria will lead the assault. Last year the 25-year-old improved the African 100m record to 10.79 to land on the doorstep of the event’s all-time top-10. Fraser-Pryce’s compatriot Kerron Stewart, a 100m finalist at the World Championships last season and 2008 Olympic 200m silver medallist, is also confirmed.
Leading the charge for the U.S. is 21-year-old national champion English Gardner, who finished fourth at the World Championships last year and has a 10.85 career best to her credit, and Alexandria Anderson, who last year joined the event’s sub-11 club with a 10.91 personal best clocking. Both Gardner and Anderson were on the silver medal-winning 4x100m Relay quartet for the U.S. in Moscow. Barbara Pierre who recorded the world’s 4th fastest time in 2013 with 10.85 and was 4th at the 2012 World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, will also be in the field.
Merritt Leads Moscow Men’s 400m Podium Reunion
There will be lots of speed on display throughout the programme. The men’s 400m will feature the season’s first rematch of last year’s World Championships medallists.
LaShawn Merritt of the U.S. was the picture of dominance in Moscow last summer with his commanding 43.74 victory for his second global title. Behind him, compatriot Tony McQuay edged Luguelin Santos by just 0.02 seconds in 44.40 to win the battle for silver over the young Dominican. In 2012 Santos surprised the world with his silver medal run at the 2012 Olympic Games when he just 18.
Joining the trio will be a rising star in the event, Czech Pavel Maslak, who followed up his fifth place finish at last year’s World Championships with a powerful run to win the World Indoor title last weekend. Maslak, just 23, is also the reigning European champion indoors and out.
Asian Champion and 2013 World Championships finalist Youssef Ahmed Masrahi from Saudi Arabia leads the Arab athletes’ attack.
Weir vs Mitchell in the 200m
Meanwhile, the men’s 200m field can boast the reigning silver and bronze medallists from the World Championships.
Jamaican Warren Weir followed up his bronze medal performance at the 2012 Olympic Games with a runner-up finish behind Usain Bolt in Moscow last year. Illustrating his growing consistency and confidence, the 24-year-old twice clocked a personal best 19.79 in 2013.
Curtis Mitchell of the U.S., the World bronze medallist who improved to 19.97 last season, will lead the opposition. The field also includes reigning European champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, who was fifth at the 2012 Olympics and Jamaicans Jason Young (19.86 from 2012) and Nickel Ashmeade (19.85, 2012).
"Although the Doha 2014 meeting is being held at the beginning of the outdoor season, we will bring on dozens of Olympic and World champions and medallists," said Qatar Athletics Federation President Dahlan Al Hamad. “We are really looking forward to welcoming the world’s top athletes and especially Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the finest women’s sprinter in the world, back to Doha this year.
"Her early announcement already shows that the meeting will be of a very high calibre with top athletes competing as usual.”
Qatar Athletics Federation Secretary General Mohamed Al-Kuwari concurs that as always, the meeting’s quality will be second to none.
"As happens every year, we will see many great performances that will set the tone for the season,” Al-Kuwari said. “Fans will experience a fantastic event with many surprises.”
Keep Up-to-Date on Facebook and Twitter
As with previous editions, fans and media can follow the run-up to the meeting via Doha 2014’s social media outlets. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive all the latest news and updates and to take part in athlete chats. Watch for announcements!
- ILQ News -
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