Doha: Athletics fans in Qatar are in for a treat as a number of world and Olympic champions including 2017 IAAF World Athlete of the Year and Qatar’s very own Mutaz Essa Barshim, Kenya’s 3000m world champion Hellen Obiri and Greece’s pole vault legend Katerina Stefanidi are all set to rock at the Diamond League season opener at Qatar Sports Club on May 4th.
A thrilling showdown anticipated in the men’s 200m as reigning World champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey goes up against Olympic silver medallist Andre De Grasse of Canada, 2017 Diamond League champion Noah Lyles of the USA, and world bronze medallist Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago. However, the biggest surprise could come from Omar McLeod of Jamaica, who is the Olympic and World Champion in the 110m hurdles but will be trying his hand at the 200m in Doha in an intriguing switch.
Speaking ahead of the 2018 Doha Diamond League, President of the Qatar Athletics Federation, Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, said: “We are so excited to welcome so many of the World’s biggest athletics stars back to Doha for what promises to be a phenomenal Diamond League opening meeting of the 2018 season. The Doha Diamond League is the only IAAF Diamond League meeting in the Middle East and is one of the most exciting and unmissable sporting events hosted annually in Qatar. It is our ambition to use this event to engage and inspire our nation through athletics and we are very pleased to be able to give the public this exclusive chance to meet Olympic and World Champions ahead of their competitions. We encourage everyone to come down and not miss out on this unique opportunity!”
On Thursday, May 3rd at 11,30 am, fans can join a press conference and panel session with a multitude of Olympic and World medallists on the first floor of City Center Mall, which is open to everyone to attend for free. The repeat of last year’s hugely successful press conference will enable the public to be at the front and centre of the action, hearing from the athletes first hand as well as being able to get selfies and autographs afterwards. The event will be hosted by athletes MCs Jenny Simpson of the USA, who is the reigning 1500m World silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist and will be competing in the longer distance of 3000m in Doha, and 200m sprinter Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake from Great Britain, who is the World 4x100m Champion and U20 Champion in the 200m from 2013.
Joining them on stage for the panel session will be Qatar’s sporting hero, 2017 world Champion, Diamond League Champion and World Athlete of the year Barshim, reigning Olympic, world, European and Diamond League champion Stefanidi, reigning world champion and Olympic silver medallist in the 5000m and Doha Diamond League record holder in the 3000m Hellen Obiri of Kenya, two-time Olympic champion, three-time world champion and six-time Diamond League champion Christian Taylor of the USA, reigning Olympic champion Thomas Rohler of Germany, who last year wowed the crowds as he broke the Doha Diamond League record and moved to second on the all-time list with a huge throw of 93.30m.
Team Qatar will be represented in the Diamond League by a total of 16 athletes, including Abdellelah Haroun, who is the 2017 World bronze medallist in the 400m, Abderrahaman Samba, who recently ran a World-lead time of 47.89 in the 400m hurdles, and Ahmed Bader, who is the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games Champion in the javelin.
Speaking ahead of the competition, Samba said: “I recently participated in a training camp in South Africa, which prepared me very well. I hold the world-lead time for this year and I feel ready for the upcoming season. I am very happy to represent Qatar in the Doha Diamond League and it is my ambition to retain my title and to further improve my world-lead time.”
Meanwhile, Haroun said: “My pre-season training was non-stop and very tough but it paid off as I started off the year very well by winning the Asian Indoor title for the second time. I am very proud to be representing my country again this year in the Doha Diamond League and I hope that I will achieve a strong result for our home crowd.”
Tickets for the Doha meet can be bought online at https://bit.ly/2GVnHqN.