Another massive women’s 100m showdown is expected at the 40th edition of the AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme, the final IAAF Diamond League meeting this season in Brussels, Belgium (9 September).
At least three finalists and three semi-finalists from Rio will come together for perhaps their last track appearance this year inside the beautiful King Baudouin Stadium which has a seating capacity of approximately 50,000.
Among those confirmed to face the starter is 200m World champion and European record-holder Dafne Schippers from the Netherlands. Schippers, the 200m Olympic silver medallist, last week won the Diamond Race Trophy in that discipline handsomely by 18 points and is now looking to add the 100m top prize to cap off a rather successful season.
Standing in the way is her main rival Elaine Thompson, the double Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m. Thompson has no doubt interrupted Schippers’ sleep many nights this season prior to and after some important clashes in the individual sprints. Both athletes aged 24 are building up a tremendous rivalry which has catapulted women’s sprinting back into the limelight with their must-see confrontations.
Interestingly, it was Thompson (30 pts) who was runner-up to Schippers (48 pts) in the 200m Diamond Race September (1).
Thompson has been in spanking form this season and is the only woman to run 10.7 on more than one occasion. She has done it three times so far. In Rio, Thompson ran the fastest ever wind-legal time of 10.71 seconds (+0.5 m/s) in a women’s 100m Olympic final. She also established a new Diamond League record of 21.85 seconds in the 200m in Zurich recently.
If Thompson wins the 2016 100m Diamond Race, she would have maintained a Jamaican stranglehold on the event dating back to 2012. She would join legendary compatriots Veronica Campbell-Brown (2014) and three-time winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (2012, 2013 & 2015).
Only USA and Jamaican athletes have won the Diamond Race Trophy in this discipline since its inception in 2010.
The points standing and the new scoring system heading into Brussels makes this event mouth-watering. There are a few possibilities and scenarios that will keep die-hearted track fans crunching numbers and really tuned in to this potentially explosive face off.
Elaine Thompson leads the standings with 30 points, eight ahead of Schippers on 22. American English Gardner, whose season started out promisingly, is next with 16 points followed by Veronica Campbell-Brown on 11 and Olympic 100m silver medallist Tori Bowie 10 points.
Unfortunately, Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and the two Americans mentioned above seem to have ended their season and will not feature in this event.
The table below shows how the points are distributed per event throughout the season and the added bonus of receiving double that amount at the grand finale.
Thompson could wrap up the Diamond Race series with victory, which will see her collecting 20 points pushing her total to 50 points. However, if Thompson’s arch-rival Schippers should win the event, it would propel her score to 42 points and things could get dicey thereafter depending on Thompson’s placing. For example, if Thompson finish second to Schippers both athletes will then be tied on 42 points.
The Diamond Race rule states, that in the event of a tie on points, the number of victories throughout the series decides, if there is still a tie, the better result at the Final decides the tie-breaker.
Thompson, who is unbeaten in the 100m Diamond Race series, has three wins from as many starts whilst Schippers has a record of one win in Monaco and a pair of second place finishes at the Doha and Birmingham meetings.
So with the current situation, Elaine Thompson holds the advantage. Schippers’ best chance mathematically and financially is to win and for Thompson to finish third. This is all the more reason why so much is at stake in this particular event which could see a tremendous battle all the way to the finish line.
Track fans will be hoping that fatigue will not be among the factors affecting the athletes’ performances and another great race is on the cards. It would be the most appropriate way to end the season.
Three other Jamaicans will be joining the action in this event. Among them is newcomer Christania Williams, a 100m finalist and sprint relay silver medallist in Rio. Williams, who achieved a personal best of 10.96 seconds in the semi-finals in Rio, was recently victorious in a non-Diamond league 100m in Zurich in 11.04 seconds. The quick starting Williams will be aiming to go much faster in Brussels. Natasha Morrison, a 100m finalist at last year’s Beijing World Championships, is also entered as well as veteran sprinter Simone Facey.
Rio semi-finalists Carina Horn (RSA), Desiree Henry (GBR) and American Tianna Bartoletta are also included in this quality field. Bartoletta, who won two gold medals in Rio in the women’s long jump and 4x100m relay respectively, will be hoping to rediscover her early July sprinting form when she ran her PB (10.78). Her countrywoman Jeneba Tarmoh has also secured one of the nine lanes.
The Big question is: Will Thompson or Schippers ‘sprint away’ with the 2016 100m Diamond Race Trophy and USD $40,000? There is also an additional ‘small incentive’ of USD $10,000 for the winner of the event on the night. History beckons.