Kenny Bednarek for Doha Diamond league
Kenny Bednarek

The Seashore Group Doha Meeting, the third Wanda Diamond League event of the year, will welcome a stellar lineup of the world’s best athletes on Friday (10). This event holds significant weight as it marks the opening of the season for some stars, while others continue their campaigns after the first two events in Xiamen and Suzhou.

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From Nassau, with love

Several sprinters who participated in the World Athletics Relays in The Bahamas last weekend have travelled to Doha. Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek and American teammates Courtney Lindsey and Kyree King are among them. This trio, who teamed up with three-time world champion Noah Lyles to win the 4x100m relay in Nassau, will compete against each other in the 200m race. Jamaica’s national champion, Andrew Hudson, will make his first 200m appearance this season.

Joseph Fahnbulleh, who ran a storming anchor leg to clinch Liberia an Olympic 4x100m place at the World Athletics Relays, is in the line-up along with Aaron Brown, who helped Canada to second place in Nassau.

Neita is looking to maintain a winning streak

Daryll Neita, from Britain, won the 200m in Suzhou. She will make her season debut in the 100m race. She will compete against Tamari Davis and Celera Barnes, who were part of the USA’s championship record-breaking team at the World Athletics Relays. Natasha Morrison, an Olympic 4x100m gold medallist from Jamaica, will also compete.

The Botswana trio confronts Gardiner

Another high-quality face-off on the programme is the men’s 400m. Reigning Olympic champion Steven Gardiner, the sixth fastest man of all time, returns to Doha, a city with fond memories. Gardiner recorded his personal best of 43.48 seconds here en route to the 2019 World Championship title. After helping his country qualify last week for the Paris Olympics in the mixed relay event, Gardiner faces off against some likely contenders for his Olympic crown. Among them are rising stars from the impressive Botswana men’s 4x400m team, including world leader Bayapo Ndori (44.10) and Leungo Scotch (44.54), Commonwealth Games champion Muzala Samukonga and Americans Vernon Norwood and Quincy Hall will add more sheen to this mouth-watering contest.

In the men’s 400m hurdles, Alison dos Santos of Brazil will compete against CJ Allen, Yasmani Copello, and Wilfried Happio. 

Dos Santos, who won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 2021, had a remarkable 2022 season during which he remained unbeaten in the 400m hurdles. He won the world title in a championship record time of 46.29, a Brazilian record and the third-fastest time in history. He later won the Wanda Diamond Trophy that season. However, in early 2023, he suffered a severe knee injury. Despite this setback, he made a comeback at a highly competitive Wanda Diamond League event in Monaco and finished fifth in the World Championships held in Budapest.

Distance kings and queens

Kenya’s world champion, Mary Moraa, will battle World Indoor Championships silver medallist Jemma Reekie in the women’s 800m. This will be Moraa’s first time competing at the Doha Diamond League meeting. The Kenyan demonstrated her readiness over her two-lap event, winning the Kip Keino Classic in 1:57.96 in April. In recent years, she’s become a dominant force in the 800m, lowering her personal best from 2:03.27 in 2020 to 1:56.03 with victory at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest (2023). The charismatic 23-year-old – known for her dancing celebrations – hopes to show off more moves as she defends her Diamond League crown.

Although Moraa has defeated Reekie five times out of their seven recent head-to-head meetings, Reekie has been showing good form lately, as seen in her indoor performances. The field also includes other strong contenders such as World Indoor Championships bronze medallist Noélie Yarigo (BEN), Olympic finalist and Jamaican record holder Natoya Goule-Toppin, and Halimah Nakaayi, the 2019 world champion from Uganda.

Several noteworthy athletes are competing in the women’s 1500m race. Among them is Freweyni Hailu, a world indoor champion. She will be joined by two fellow Ethiopians, Hirut Meshesha and Diribe Welteji. Diribe is a world silver medallist in the 1500m and also set a world record when she won the world road mile title in October. Nelly Chepchirchir from Kenya and Jessica Hull from Australia will also run in the race.

In the men’s event, all eyes will be on Timothy Cheruiyot, Kenya’s Olympic silver medalist, as he participates in his first 1500m race of the season. “The men’s 1500m is one of the most competitive and exciting events in athletics right now,” said Timothy Cheruiyot, who opened his season with a 1:46.56 800m at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi on 20 April. He will face tough competition from Narve Gilje Nordas of Norway, the world bronze medalist, two-time world indoor champion Samuel Tefera, and the world U20 champion Reynold Cheruiyot. This highly anticipated race is not to be missed.

Beatrice Chebet, a two-time world 5000m medallist, is set to return to track after taking a break since the Diamond League final in September. Her last race saw her finish with a time of 14:05.92, placing her second behind Gudaf Tsegay in a world-record race where Tsegay clocked in at 14:00.21. Chebet, who won the world 5km title in October and then retained her world cross-country crown in March, will make her first appearance on the track since that memorable event.

Chebet will compete against world U20 champion Medina Eisa, world 10,000m bronze medallist Ejgayehu Taye, Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka, and Kenya’s Grace Loibach Nawowuna.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen, the Olympic bronze medallist, will compete against his compatriot Abraham Kibiwot, the world bronze medallist, and Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale, who finished fourth in the Olympics and the world championships.

The spearmen are ready to put on a show

Reigning Olympic, world and Asian Games javelin champion Neeraj Chopra – India’s record holder with a best of 89.94m – will make a welcome return to action alongside former world champion Anderson Peters and Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch. Interestingly, Vadlejch won the Diamond Trophy last year, beating Chopra, who finished second. Chopra, aiming to defend his Olympic title, has his sights set on a few targets. “This year, my personal goal is to retain my Olympic title, but it would also mean a lot to me to break the 90-metre barrier,” said Chopra, whose PB stands at 89.94m.

Also in the line-up are 2015 world champion Julius Yego and world finalist Oliver Helander.

Women’s pole vault

The women’s pole vault event will showcase the indoor and outdoor world champions. Australian athlete Nina Kennedy will kick off her Diamond League campaign against British athlete Molly Caudery, who will compete for the first time since her world indoor triumph in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Olympic and world champion Katie Moon, ranked fifth all-time with a best height of 4.95m, has withdrawn from the event due to a longer-than-expected recovery from an Achilles injury.

High Jump anticlimax

It’s interesting to note that there won’t be a high jump contest for men, which means the home crowd will miss out on watching the current Olympic and three-time world champion Mutaz Barshim in action. On the other hand, the women’s high jump will feature four athletes who have cleared the 2m mark. Australia’s 2022 world champion, Eleanor Patterson, will compete against Ukraine’s Yuliia Levchenko, Iryna Gerashchenko, and Kazakhstan’s Nadezhda Dubovitskaya.

Tentoglou opens up

Greece’s world and Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou will make his Doha Diamond League debut in the men’s long jump. The field also includes Carey McLeod, Tajay Gayle, and Simon Ehammer.

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