Welcome to our Diamond League Preview Show … Doha, the first in the 14-meet series takes the spotlight this week and what an opening meet with some of the best clashes are on the program.
We will be looking at the premier events, especially the ones with high Caribbean interest.
Chief among the clashes will be the 200m showdown between Olympic Games sprint double champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, and World champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands…an early thrill as we look to the London World Championships in August
Thompson, who was second to Schippers at the World Championships in Beijing two years ago, has since dominated the face-to-face encounters, getting the better of her opponent in both the 100m and 200m at Rio 2016.
Thompson is in excellent early season shape and it showed with a slightly winded 10.75 in Kingston two weeks ago, followed up with two impressive anchor legs, on Jamaica’s 4x200m team at the World Relays in Bahamas and again in the one lap relay at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia on the weekend.
Schippers too has been in good form this season with 22.29secs, but to beat Thompson, she could be asked to lead her by more than five metres coming into the homestretch….This may not be possible, especially since Thompson is seen as one of the best curve runners of the day.
But while I am here looking into the expectations, lets us hear from the stars themselves….
There you have it, both are ready and rearing to go, and so are other Jamaicans Veronica Campbell-Brown, a two-time Olympic champion and Simone Facey.
The men’s 100m will also be very hot as Jamaican Asafa Powell takes on Rio medallists, Justin Gatlin of USA and Canadian Andre De Grasse…If we were to go by personal best times, Powell will be the favourite with 9.72 over Gatlin 9.74 and De Grasse 9.91, but this will not be of any significance.
Powell pulled out of the World Relays two weeks ago, but according to the sub-10 king
If we are to go by Powell’s comment, then expect a three horse race down to the finish. Apart from that, De Grasse showed good form in Bahamas, even better than that of Gatlin.
Hear what both athletes have to say
If I was to call a winner, while my heart is with Powell, De Grasse ahead of Gatlin would be a good idea for the betting man
Also in the field is Kim Collins, who is expected to lead them for the first half of the race as well as South African Akani Simbine.
Lets now turn the spotlight on the men’s 400m …. And here, based on form, Steven Gardiner of Bahamas, is the man to beat. He ran 44.26 for a national record at the Grenada Invitational in April, early in the season with less competition, so a month later and a stronger field, how fast can he go?
American LaShawn Merritt is the most experienced campaigner in the field, but has only managed 45.51 so far this season.
Vernon Norwood, also of USA, is the only other person in the field to run sub-45 this season.
Natoya Goule is in the women’s 800m, Megan Simmonds in the 100m hurdles, Aisha Praught in the 3,000m steeplechase, and Annsert Whyte in the men’s 400m hurdles,
Donald Thomas of Bahamas is in the men’s high jump.