Athletics

What to look out for at the Diamond League final

Venue: Zurich Dates: 8-9 September BBC coverage (UK only): Watch on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app from 16:30-18:30 BST on Wednesday and 18:00-21:00 BST on Thursday

A month after the Olympics closing ceremony, 25 champions and 41 other medallists from the Tokyo Games are due to be in Zurich this week for the final of the 2021 Wanda Diamond League.

The 12th meeting of the summer series draws the finest athletes from around the globe to the Swiss city as they vie for the prestigious Diamond League trophy and the winner’s prize of $30,000 (£22,000).

Series winners will also receive a wildcard for next year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon and the Zurich organisers have laid on a mouth-watering feast of athletics for both Wednesday’s events in the city centre and Thursday’s inside the Letzigrund Stadium.

Here are some of the key things to look out for.

Sprint showdowns

Back-to-back Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah is the star attraction in a tantalising women’s 100m race, after running a blistering 10.54 seconds in Eugene last month.

The Jamaican is now the second fastest woman of all time – and she may face the third in Zurich, with her compatriot, and predecessor as Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce expected to compete.

Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who has run 10.78 this year, and British duo Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita are also on the provisional start list.

World 200m champion Asher-Smith may choose to focus on the longer event, though, where she would face equally stiff opposition in Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, and Christine Mboma of Namibia.

Asher-Smith, 25, finished third in both Paris (100m) and Brussels (200m) recently after a rollercoaster Olympics, which she finished with bronze in the 4x100m relay after injury marred her individual events.

In the men’s sprints, Canada’s Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse and American 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley are named in both events.

More global giants

It should come as no surprise that Norway’s Karsten Warholm will start the 400m hurdles as the overwhelming favourite.

After shattering the world record with a scintillating 45.94 to win gold in Tokyo, Warholm ran a modest 45.51 over the flat in Lausanne and will be eager to return to his best in front of a capacity crowd.

His compatriot Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, is listed for both the 1500m and 5,000m.

Should he compete in both, he would run in two different venues – with the latter one of seven titles up for grabs in the city centre on Wednesday, and the former one of 25 on offer in the stadium on Thursday.

The Olympic 1500m champion, who ran a Games-record three minutes 28.32 seconds to take gold, is the European record holder in both events, and his battle with Kenyan world champion Timothy Cheruiyot over the metric mile will be a particularly fascinating duel.

In the pole vault, Sweden’s Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis will be looking to add to his recent wins in Paris and Brussels as he faces American two-time world champion Sam Kendricks, who was forced to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 on the eve of the competition after a positive Covid-19 test.

And it doesn’t stop there

Back on the track, the women’s 800m should feature British pair Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie – the Olympic silver medallist and fourth-placed finisher respectively.

Hodgkinson, the 19-year-old European indoor champion, clocked a national record of 1:55.88 in Tokyo and has improved her two-lap time by almost six seconds this year.

She finished second in Brussels last week with Reekie third, and the Britons will again do battle with winner Natoya Goule of Jamaica.

Elsewhere, Kenyan 1500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon faces 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist Sifan Hassan, American two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser takes an unbeaten record this season into the men’s shot put, and the women’s high jump features all three medallists – Authorised Neutral Athlete Mariya Lasitskene, Nicola McDermott of Australia and the Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh.

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