Doha, 6 Apr 2016 - Reigning world champions Allyson Felix and Dafne Schippers will meet in a scintillating 100m clash at the Doha 2016 meeting on Friday 6 May, in what promises to be among the most anticipated head-to-head battles at the opening competition of the 14-meeting IAAF Diamond League series.
Few athletes are as familiar with Doha’s inviting early season conditions as Felix who will be chasing her 12th victory on the Qatar Sports Club track, and her fourth over 100m.
“It’s always great to be back in Doha and start my international season there,” said Felix, whose 11 victories in the Qatari capital also include three in the 200m and five straight in the 400m from 2007 to 2011. In 2012 she won the short dash in 10.92, still the meeting record, as a prelude to her Olympic 200m triumph in London.
In 2015 the 30-year-old Felix added the world 400m title to her long list of achievements, an important stepping stone to her Olympic 200m/400m double aspirations later this summer.
“It will be a great early season test three months before the Olympic Games. The conditions in Doha are always just about ideal, and the competition very strong.”
The test will indeed be a tough one for the three-time 200m world champion, 2012 IAAF Athlete of the Year and three-time Diamond Race winner who’ll take on Schippers, the rising sprint star who won the world 200m title last summer in Beijing with a sterling 21.63 run, a performance which elevated the 23-year-old Dutchwoman all the way up to the No. 3 position all-time in what was just her second season as a full-time sprint specialist.
“I have heard so many great things about Doha, about the competition and about the fast track,” said Schippers, who also raced to world championships silver last year in the 100m clocking a personal best 10.81. Her transformation to international sprint star has been nearly as swift, coming just two years she won bronze in the heptathlon at the 2013 world championships.
Schippers was victorious in the pair’s last meeting, beating Felix in the Diamond League final in Brussels last September 22.12 to 22.22.
I am really looking forward to running against Allyson, one of the best sprinters of all-time. As always, though, the entire field will be very strong.”
The field will also include Tori Bowie, the reigning US champion and 2015 world bronze medallist over the distance; Murielle Ahouré of Cote D'Ivoire, who raced to 100m and 200m silver at the 2013 world championships; and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, whose long list of accolades include back-to-back Olympic 200m titles in 2004 and 2008 and a bronze medal at the 2015 world championships.
The Doha Diamond League also announces a stellar field in the men's 110m hurdles, which includes Jamaican Omar McLeod who'll be looking to extend the momentum that propelled him to world indoor gold in Portland last month to his 2016 outdoor debut.
“As a fan of the sport I am always amazed by the sprints and hurdles field assembled in Doha, I am excited to be a part of the 2016 constellation and look forward to the event.” McLeod will bring a 12.97 career best to the start line.
The field will also include Aries Merritt of the US, the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder who underwent a kidney transplant surgery just four days after taking bronze at last year's world championships. His 13.04 performance in Beijing was the fastest since his stunning 12.80 world record at the Brussels Diamond League, despite running with just 20 percent kidney function.
David Oliver of the US will return looking for a fourth Doha victory. The 33-year-old former world champion set the current meeting record of 12.95 in 2008.
McLeod's teammate Hansle Parchment (12.94), the runner-up at last year's world championships and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, and Frenchmen Dimitri Bascou and Darien Garfield, who were fifth and eight at last year’s world championships, respectively are other notable entrants.
The women's 400m hurdles field is led by two-time reigning world champion Zuzana Hejnova. The 29-year-old Czech, who also struck Olympic bronze in London, will be targeting the 54.27 meeting record set by Ionela Tirlea-Manolache in 1999.
In an intriguing match-up, she'll be facing Kemi Adekoya of Bahrain who raced to world indoor gold over 400m last month. Adekoya won this event in Doha two years ago.
Cassandra Tate of the US, last year's world bronze medallist, Jamaica's Olympic and world finalist Kaliese Spencer and Dane Sara Petersen, fourth at last year’s world championships, are also in the field.
And in the men's 200m, the spotlight will fall on home favourite Femi Ogonude who'll be targeting a solid early season start on home turf.
"I really want to give local fans a Diamond League win for Qatar at home," said Ogunode, who finished seventh in the event at the world championships last year in the finest season of his career. The 24-year-old clocked 9.91 in the 100m in June and capped his campaign with a 19.97 victory in Brussels, both Asian records.
Panama's Alonso Edward, the Diamond Race winner in the event in 2014 and 2015 is also in the field, along with Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, who won in Doha in 2014.
Doha, 7 March 2016 - On May 6 Doha (Qatar) will play host to the kick-off meeting of the IAAF Diamond League series for a seven successive season and as is always the case a large amount of the world’s elite athletes have chosen to open their outdoor campaign in the Suhaim Bin Hamad stadium. Among them, the reigning Olympic triple jump champions, Christian Taylor and Olga Rypakova, as well as the two-time World champion Caterine Ibarguen.
“Although the Doha 2016 coincides with the athletes’ Olympic preparations and is, as always, held at the beginning of the outdoor season, we have invited and bringing on a large number of Olympic and World Championships medalists, like Christian Taylor, Caterine Ibarguen and Olga Rypakova. This early announcement already shows that the meeting will be of a very high calibre with top athletes competing.
“By having in Doha elite athletes, we raise the awareness for our sport and we continuously engage, inspire and motivate a growing number of young athletes. The recent successful campaign of our national team at the Asian Indoors Championships held in Doha confirm the rapid progress athletics enjoy in Qatar”, stated the Qatar Athletics Federation President Dahlan Al Hamad who also commented on the recent addition of Rabat to the Diamond League calendar:
“I would like to take the opportunity to welcome Rabat and Morocco to the Diamond League family. The ‘International Mohammed VI’ meeting has been quite successful throughout all the years of existence and fully deserves its inclusion to the top-tier one-day events family.”
Taylor, a four-time Diamond Race winner (2012-2015), came a measly 8cm away from breaking the mythical 18.29m world record Jonathan Edwards set way back in 1995. The American reigning Olympic and World Champion, whose 18.21m winning mark last year at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing awarded him his second global title and elevated him to the world’s No. 2 spot, returns to Qatar to snatch his second IAAF Doha Diamond League victory and reclaim the meeting record he lost last year after a dramatic duel “combat” to Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo.
The 2015 triple jump competition in Doha was a real cracker, producing for the first time ever two marks beyond 18m by two different athletes on the same day. Taylor leaped 18.04m a new personal best in his last attempt, but fell short a mere two centimeters of Pichardo’s 18.06m early lead.
“That was a special day for me, as I exceeded 18m for the first time in my career. I am really looking forward to returning to Doha and enjoy the meeting’s favourable conditions which always help athletes reach peak form.
“2016 is a special year with the Olympics ahead on schedule. Triple jump has reached unprecedented heights in recent years, but I am looking for nothing less than a second Olympic gold.
“What better way to start the season, than going after that respectable meeting record. It would be a huge stepping stone in my preparation towards the Olympic Games. But of course, coming out with a Diamond League win would just be an added bonus”, said Taylor who possesses four of the twelve achieved 18m+ jumps in the history of the event (Edwards has also four on his account, Pichardo two, while Kenny Harrison and Teddy Tamgho own one apiece).
The women’s triple jump is not short of high calibre athletes as well. London Olympic champion and recently crowned Asian indoor champion in the Aspire Dome’s track, Olga Rypakova as well as the reigning World Champion Caterine Ibarguen have already signed in for the IDL Doha 2016 and lead a quality line-up which also features the 2015 World Champs silver medallist Hanna Knyazheva-Minenko and the Commonwealth Games champion Kimberly Williams.
31-year-old Rypakova, who returned to action and to medal positions in 2015 (bronze in Beijing) after giving birth to her second child, has yet to lose a triple jump competition in Doha, registering a Diamond League win in 2012 and three indoor victories. In 2010 she claimed the IAAF World Indoor title, while she also grabbed two Asian Indoors gold medals – her maiden in 2008 and a second one in her most recent triumph a few days ago with a new season best jump of 14.32cm.
The Kazakh’s 2010 World Champs winning performance of 15.14m remains her indoor personal best (15.25m outdoors – No. 8 all-time) and the only mark beyond 15m registered on Qatar soil.
London silver medallist Caterine Ibarguen took the baton from the 2012 winner Rypakova to top the Diamond Race rankings over the past three seasons (2013-2015). Since 2013 she has completely dominated the event winning the World title in 2013 in Moscow and in 2015, while she also emerged victorious in 18 Diamond League events.
The 32-year-old triple jumper from Colombia has competed only once before in Doha in 2014, but needed no more visits to claim the meeting record with 14.43m. Her 15.31m personal best ranks her fifth on the all-time lists.