Doha: The 2018 IAAF Diamond League series will kick off in Doha with unmissable action on Friday 4th May at Qatar Sports Club as a multitude of global champions go head to head in the Women’s Pole Vault and Men’s Javelin. Caster Semenya will be the headline name in the Women’s 1500m, fresh off her 2018 Commonwealth Games 800m/1500m double in the Gold Coast, where she dominated both events.
Doha’s large Greek community will have plenty to cheer for as reigning Olympic, World, European and Diamond League Champion, Katerina Stefanidi once again leads the field. Stefanidi will face stiff competition from 2018 World Indoor Champion and Olympic and World silver medallist, Sandi Morris of the USA, recently crowned Commonwealth gold and silver medallists, Alysha Newman of Canada and Eliza McCartney of New Zealand respectively, 2017 World Championship bronze medallist and 2013 Under 18 World Champion, Robeilys Peinado of Venezuela, and 2013 European Indoor Champion and British record-holder Holly Bradshaw.
Stefanidi has dominated the pole vault for the past two years but it is Sandi Morris who has shown outstanding form already this year. In March, Morris broke Stefanidi’s unbeaten streak of 19 straight victories that had lasted over a year when she won this year’s World Indoor Championships in Birmingham with a championship record of 4.95m. Stefanidi finished in bronze position with a jump of 4.80m. Morris also has a superior personal best of 5.00m to Stefanidi’s 4.91m, and is one of only three women to be a member of the exclusive 5-metre club. The first outdoor head to head of the 2018 season between the pair is set to be intriguing inside Qatar Sports Club on 4th May.
Additional challenges will also come from Alysha Newman and Eliza McCartney on the back of a thrilling Commonwealth Games final on April 13th. Newman beat Olympic bronze medallist and favourite McCartney with a first-time clearance at 4.75m, after McCartney had been leading all the way until 4.70m. Both heights beat the previous Games record set in 2006. Meanwhile, Robeilys Penado is arguably one of Pole Vault’s biggest rising stars after the then 19-year-old became the youngest-ever pole vault medallist with bronze at last year’s World Championships, and the first Venezuelan to win a medal at the event.
Another fascinating showdown will come in the Men’s Javelin as reigning Olympic Champion Thomas Röhler of Germany goes up against all three medallists from London 2017, which includes World Champion and team-mate Johannes Vetter, world silver medallist and 2018 Diamond League Champion, Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic, and world bronze medallist and team-mate Petr Frydrych. Also in the mix are reigning Olympic silver medallist, Julius Yego of Kenya, and another rising star, 20-year-old Neeraj Chopra of India, who is the 2016 Under 20 World Champion, 2017 Asian Champion and record-holder, and recent gold-medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Röhler last year wowed the crowds in Doha as he threw an incredible 93.90m to move him to second on the world all-time list behind world-record holder Jan Zelezny, beating the meeting record, IAAF Diamond League record and German national record in the process. However, just two months later 2017 European Athlete of the Year, Vetter overtook Röhler to claim the second world all-time position after he threw 94.44m in Luzern. The World Champion has continued this scintillating form into 2018 where he has already thrown 92.70m at the European Throwing Cup in Portugal in March.
Meanwhile Jakub Vadlejch will be looking to get his 2018 Diamond League campaign off to a strong start as he pursues a third consecutive IAAF Diamond League trophy, after winning with a throw of 88.50m in Zurich in 2017. The Czech also took silver in London with a lifetime best of 89.73m. Compatriot Frydrych pushed Röhler off a podium position in London by just seven centimetres for a surprise bronze, also with a personal best of 88.32m. Qatar’s 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games Champion, 22-year-old Ahmed Bader will also line up looking to gain further experience competing against the world’s best.
Caster Semenya of South Africa will be difficult to beat in the women’s 1500m off the back of her dominant victories in both the 800m and 1500m at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. The 2017 World bronze medallist in 1500m and two-times Olympic and three-times World Champion in 800m, also won the 2017 Diamond League trophy over 800m following an opening victory at the Doha Diamond League last May. Semenya will return to Doha looking for another victory over the longer distance this year and her closest competition will likely come from 2016 World Indoor bronze medallist and U20 World indoor record holder, Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia and 3rd and 5th ranked athletes in 2018 Winny Chebet of Kenya and Rababe Arafi of Morocco respectively, and 2013 800m World Champion, Eunice Sum, also of Kenya.