DOHA (Sporting Alert) — The IAAF Diamond League series kick-starts on Friday with some of the world’s best athletes set to compete in Doha.
Some of the highlighted events on the schedule for Friday are the men’s and women’s short sprints, as well as the men’s medium and long distance events.
The men’s 100m dash will see 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, the fastest man over the 100m and 200m during the 2014 season, opening his individual term against a solid field.
Gatlin is set to face Jamaica’s Nesta Carter, who ran 9.98 seconds at the Jamaica Invitational last weekend, Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago, American Mike Rodgers, as well as Great Britain’s James Dasaolu and St. Kitts and Nevis’ record holder and 2003 world champion, Kim Collins.
The stage is also set for the women’s 200m and 400m events, which will feature the likes of Americans Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross and Francena McCorory.
Olympic 200m champion Felix will start favourite to bagged that title and add to her amazing 11 wins in Doha.
The three-time world half-lap champion is expected to be challenged by reigning World Championships sprint double silver medallist Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast and Bahamian Anthonique Strachan, the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships gold medal winner.
In the women’s 400m, London Olympic champion Richards-Ross, fresh from her world-leading 49.95 secs performance in Kingston, last Saturday, takes on countryman and World Indoor champion American McCorory, who has already ran 50.13 this season.
Richards-Ross beat McCorory at the Jamaica Invitational and the latter will be out to return the favour in Doha.
Also entered in the one-lap battle are Stephenie Ann McPherson, the Commonwealth Games champion, Novlene Williams-Mills and Christine Day, who were involved in a Jamaican sweep of the 400m at the Games in Glasgow, last summer.
Shifting over to the longer battles, world and Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist Mo Farah of Great Britain, will be the main attraction in the men’s 3000m.
The strong field will also include Ethiopian pair of Hagos Gebrhiwet, the world 5000m silver medallist and Yenew Alamirew, who set the Doha and Diamond League meeting record of 7:27.26 in 2011.
The group is targeting a fast race and Farah and several others have requested a pace close to the record time.
“It’s definitely going to be one of the toughest fields I’ve faced (since the 2013 world championships),” the 32-year-old, who ran 7:33.10 indoors, said.
“It’s definitely not going to be a walk in the park. Everyone’s going to be there to get you.”
“My aim is to come out here and test myself,” he added. “I’m excited. It’s good to get a good early race and test yourself against these guys to see where you are at.
“And find out where they’re at. I want to get that racing feeling again. (The world championships) aren’t that far away.”
The men’s 800m field is also a solid one, and it is highlighted by world indoor and outdoor champion Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia, who will take on Kenya’s world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, who is stepping down in distance to continue working on speed training ahead of Beijing, later this summer.
Not to be excluded from the battle is Qatar and home favourite Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla, who owns a personal best of 1:43.93 and enjoyed a positive indoor campaign.
Also on the outside watch list are Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France and Djiboutian Ayanleh Souleiman.
In other events on the track, Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi, the world champion over 1500m, will look to continue her dominance in the event, while Australia’s Olympic champion Sally Pearson is set to have her hands full in the women’s 100m hurdles.
In the latter event, world-leader Jasmin Stowers of USA seems to be on a mission this season and she warned her rivals with two outstanding performances in Des Moines and Kingston, leading up to the start of the Diamond League campaign.
Her leading times so far this season are 12.39 and 12.40.
In the field events, American thrower Joe Kovacs is the form-man heading into Doha and will start as the person to watch in the men’s shot put.
He improved his personal best to 22.35m a month ago and holds the two best marks in the world this year. The other standard being 22.06m.
The loaded field includes two-time world indoor champion Ryan Whiting, Germany’s two-time world champion David Storl, America Reese Hoffa, the Olympic bronze medallist and Jamaica’s O’Dayne Richards.
Elsewhere, Croatia’s Olympic, World champion and world-leader Sandra Perkovic start as the main contender in the women’s Discus Throw, with Australia’s Dani Samuels, a world champion six-years ago and third best thrower so far this season, starting on form as her best challenger.