(MENAFN- Gulf Times)
• Seven Tokyo Games champions and a host of other Olympic and world medallists will compete at Qatar Sports Club
The much-anticipated Ooredoo Doha Meeting, the opening event of the 2022 Diamond League series, takes place this Friday. Seven reigning Olympic champions and a host of Olympic and world medallists will compete at the Qatar Sports Club where six world leading performances, three meeting records, and six area and national records were set 12 months ago. Event highlights are expected to include the men's pole vault, high jump, 400m hurdles and 200m and the women's 200m.
Men's pole vault
Sweden's Mondo Duplantis, Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder, will kick off his outdoor campaign in the Qatari capital. The 22-year-old, who was crowned world indoor champion in March, has dominated the pole vault in recent years. In 2020 he set world records of 6.17m and 6.18m during the indoor season, then went on to clear 6.15m in Rome, the highest outdoor vault in history. He cleared a new world record height of 6.19m in early March before improving that mark to 6.20m, another world record, to win gold at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.
Conditions in Doha should be conducive to jumping high, and Duplantis is aiming to get his season off to a strong start ahead of his European title defence and the opportunity to win his first senior world title this summer.
Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen of USA, the 2022 world indoor bronze medallist and current world leader with a personal best of 6.00m, and Piotr Lisek of Poland, the 2019 World Championships bronze medallist, will also compete.
Men's high jump
Joint Olympic high jump champions Mutaz Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi Italy – who shared one of the greatest sporting moments of all time when they topped the podium in Tokyo – will reunite in competition in Doha. The pair, long-standing friends and rivals, have supported one another through the best and worst of times, not least when enduring career-threatening injuries in the years prior to their famous Olympic victory.
Double world champion Barshim was outstanding when winning global gold in Doha in 2019 to become the first man to successfully defend a world high jump title. Remarkably, it followed a devastating ankle injury in 2018. Twice an Olympic silver medallist (2012 and 2016), he is the Qatari national record holder with a best of 2.43m, the second highest jump of all time.
Tamberi, the former World Indoor and European Championships gold medallist, is the Italian national record holder with a best of 2.39m. He was enjoying his best year ever when he suffered an horrific injury ahead of the Rio Games in 2016. His journey back to fitness was gradual and challenging, but he returned to medal-winning form with a European indoor title in Glasgow in 2019. He most recently finished third at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade (2022).
Joint world leaders Sanghyeok Woo of South Korea and Hamish Kerr New Zealand, the world indoor champion and world indoor bronze medallist respectively, are also in the field.
Men's 400m hurdles
In their first meeting since the historic Olympic final in August 2021, Olympic and world 400m hurdles silver medallist Rai Benjamin of USA and Qatar's World Championships bronze medallist Abderrahman Samba will line up in the 400m hurdles – joined by Olympic bronze medallist Alison Dos Santos of Brazil.
Benjamin, an Olympic and world 4x400m relay gold medallist, finished runner-up to Norways' Karsten Warholm in Tokyo. His time of 46.17 – an American national record – was inside the previous world record which Warholm obliterated when winning gold (45.94). He opened his season with a third-place finish over 200m (20.01) at the USATF Golden Games on April 16 and most recently clocked 48.60 to win the 400m hurdles at the Seiko Golden GP, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting.
Samba has been at the vanguard of progression in the men's 400m hurdles. The 26-year-old was the second athlete behind America's former world record holder Kevin Young to run under 47 seconds when he clocked a lifetime best and Qatari national record of 46.98 in 2018. He ran a season's best (47.12) to finish fifth in Tokyo.
Dos Santos, the Brazilian national record holder with a best of 46.72 achieved in the Tokyo final, was seventh in the World Championships in Doha in 2019. He has already shown impressive form this season, clocking a lifetime best over 400m (44.54) at the USATF Golden Games. His 48.41 400m hurdles opener is the second-fastest in the world this year to date.
Benjamin took victory in Doha 12 months ago in a new meeting record of 47.38, improving the previous mark set by Samba in 2018. Dos Santos was second on that occasion running a personal best and national record (at the time).
Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse of Canada will take on world champion Noah Lyles of USA and Olympic 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley of USA in a star-studded men's 200m. De Grasse, the Canadian national record holder (19.62), is a multiple Olympic and world medallist. He backed up his 200m gold in Tokyo with 100m bronze and silver in the 4x100m relay. At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, he finished second in the 200m and took bronze in the 100m. Lyles, Olympic bronze medallist over 200m, was a double gold medallist in Doha 2019 over 200m and in the 4x100m relay. The former world under-20 100m champion ran 9.90w (100m) and 19.86 (200m) in Florida on May 1. His 200m best of 19.50 (2019) is the fifth-fastest of all time.
Kerley is a world gold medallist in the 4x400m and bronze medallist in the 400m (2019). He has demonstrated his incredible versatility already this season with a 19.80 200m clocking in mid-April, the second-fastest in the world this year to date, and a 9.92 100m at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi.
World and European champion Dina Asher-Smith headlines an impressive women's 200m, an event that also features Olympic medallists Gabrielle Thomas of USA and Jamaica's Shericka Jackson. Asher-Smith is a two-time Olympic relay bronze medallist and British record holder over 100m (10.83) and 200m (21.88). She is the reigning world 200m champion and was the silver-medallist over 100m and 4x100m in Doha 2019. A multiple European champion, she won triple gold in Berlin (2018) over 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
Thomas, Olympic silver medallist in the 4 x 100m relay, finished third in the Tokyo 200m. The 25-year-old Harvard graduate, who has a best of 21.61, opened her season in style with a 22.02 200m at the USATF Golden Games – the second-fastest time in the world this year to date – less than half an hour after running the 100m final.
Jackson, Jamaica's multiple Olympic and world medallist, took gold in the 4x100m relay in Tokyo and bronze in the 100m and 4x400m relay. Her last competitive outing in Qatar saw her repeat that impressive relay feat in addition to winning 400m bronze at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
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