WRITTEN FOR THE STOCKHOLM IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE WEBSITE
As Stockholm prepares for the glittering tenth anniversary edition of the IAAF Diamond League meeting on Thursday (May 30th), we take a closer look at the expected track stars likely to set the stadium alight…
Men’s 400m – Norman to eclipse the world record?
The top billing of the night undoubtedly belongs to 400m man, Michael Norman – the American 21-year-old scorched to a blistering 44.52 world indoor record in the spring of last year and his 2019 campaign has already started with a bang.
Opening the season with a scorching 43.45 lifetime best, Norman’s time in California last month was a mere four tenths of a second off the world record and catapulted him to fourth on the global all-time list.
The 2018 world number one followed this performance up with a fine 19.84 200m personal best to win in Osaka recently, and he starts as a red-hot favourite in the Swedish capital.
Can he get closer to the 43.03 world record in the 1912 Olympic stadium?
His fiercest competitor is likely to be his compatriot, Rai Benjamin – the 21-year-old 400m hurdles specialist registered a swift 44.31 behind his rival on American turf, and took the runner-up spot over the barriers in the Doha leg of the IAAF Diamond League at the beginning of the month.
Interestingly, Benjamin ended last summer as world number-two in both events and he looks capable of continuing his impressive momentum over both disciplines.
Women’s 5,000m – Obiri dominance to continue?
The biggest anticipated distance-running accolade of the night will belong to Kenya’s Hellen Obiri – the world champion over 3,000m indoors, 5,000m and cross country.
The 29-year-old took the spoils over 3,000m in Doha and the Olympic silver medalist should be hard pressed to beat in her first twelve-and-a-half lap race of the season.
Her challengers include her compatriots, Agnes Jebet Tirop – the world 10,000m bronze medalist and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, who placed fifth in the world 5,000m championship final two years ago.
Women’s 200m – Bigger test for Asher-Smith
Triple European sprint champion, Dina Asher-Smith made light work of the field in Doha, striding away to a comfortable 22.26 victory in her first race of the summer, but the 23-year-old Briton will face stiff competition in Stockholm.
The 2018 world number one goes head to head with two-time world champion, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands – who contests her debut competition of the year – and Jamaica’s double Olympic champion, Elaine Thompson, who was recently timed at 22.40 en route to the top spot in Nanjing.
Women’s 100m hurdles – Consistency the key for Harrison
The USA’s world record holder, Kendra Harrison is enjoying her grip on the global ranking list and the 26-year-old world indoor 60m hurdles champion has a season’s best of 12.47 to propose she has the beating of her compatriot, Sharika Nelvis – who herself took third position in Doha and recorded 12.70 to win in Osaka recently.
Men’s 1500m – Momentum the goal for Cheruiyot
An impressive winner in no less than seven IAAF Diamond League meetings last summer, Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot will undoubtedly be looking to assert his authority again in 2019.
The 23-year-old world silver medalist was pipped for the win in Doha by his compatriot, Elijah Manangoi – the 26-year-old world champion in the metric mile – and the duo will toe the line together again in a mouthwatering clash in Stockholm.
Norway’s 18-year-old European 1500m and 5,000m champion, Jakob Ingebrigsten will use this race to make his eagerly-anticipated seasonal debut.
Men’s 400m hurdles – Warholm returns
In his first race since storming to a superb 45.05 European indoor 400m record en route to claiming the continental title in Glasgow back in March, Karsten Warholm has chosen to kickstart his summer in Stockholm.
The 23-year-old world champion from Norway is expected to make light work of the field.
Men’s 200m – Smooth run expected for Guliyev
Turkey’s world and European champion, Ramil Guliyev looks the class apart in the 200m field, following his strong 19.99 victory in Doha.
Women’s 800m – Wilson and Jepkosgei face-off again
The two women who finished third and fourth, respectively in Doha – Ajee’ Wilson of the USA and Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei will do battle once more over two-laps.
Wilson, the 25-year-old two-time world indoor silver medalist should get the measure of Jepkosgei, who herself was close to her lifetime best in the Qatari capital before going onto take the win in Nanjing.
Men’s 10,000m – Gebriwhet set for fascinating debut
In this non-Diamond League event, the biggest name to start is that of Ethiopia’s Olympic 5,000m bronze medalist,Hagos Gebriwhet who makes his first attempt at the 25-lap distance.
The 25-year-old finished third over his specialist distance in Shanghai recently and his faces world junior champion, Rhonex Kipruto of Kenya – who placed sixth in the IAAF World cross country Championships in March – and world half-marathon fourth-placer, Jemal Yimmer Mekonnen of Ethiopia.
Women’s 1500m – Exciting Muir opens her campaign
In another non-Diamond League race, Britain’s five-time European champion, Laura Muir makes her highly-anticipated summer debut.
The 26-year-old world indoor silver medalist is the stand-out favourite in which will be her first competition since claiming the 1500m and 3,000m double at the continental indoor championships in Glasgow back in March.
Men’s 800m – Lewandowski versus Tuka
800m specialist, Amel Tuka goes up against 1500m man, Marcin Lewandowski in this non-Diamond League event.
Tuka, the 2015 world outdoor bronze medalist from Bosnia and Herzegovina takes on the more in-form Lewandowski of Poland, who has two European titles in each discipline to his name.