• Duplantis, Hassan, Thiam and Asher Smith in the spotlight in Brussels
Armand Duplantis, Sifan Hassan, heptathlon double Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam and Dina Asher Smith will be in the spotlight at the 45th edition of the Memorial Ivo Van Damme at the King Bodouin Stadium in Brussels. The three medallists of this year’s Olympic Games Mariya Lasitskene, Nicola McDermott and Yaroslava Mahuchik in the women’s high jump will be lining up. The King Bodouin Stadium will be filled with enthusiastic and knowledgeable spectators. About 30000 spectators are expected to attend the Memorial Van Damme.
Men’s pole vault:
The top-two finishers of the Olympic final Armand Duplantis and Christopher Nilsen will line-up in Brussels. Duplantis will make his third appearance in the Memorial Van Damme. In last year’s edition he set the meeting record with 6.00m.
Duplantis won his first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo with 6.02m and vaulted over the 6.00m barrier five more times (6.10m in Hengelo, 6.00m in Karlstad, 6.01m in Oslo, 6.02m in Stockolm and 6.01m in Paris). In Paris he made his ninth attempt at the world record height of 6.19m.
Armand Duplantis: “I really need the energy from the crowd. I want to do something special every meet. I am in great form. I know what I have to do, but all the pieces of the puzzle have to fit perfectly. It has to be warm enough, and there can’t be too much wind”.
Christopher Nilsen came to the fore in 2019 when he beat Duplantis at the NCAA Finals with 5.95m. The US pole vaulter won the Olympic silver in Tokyo improving his PB by two cm to 5.97m and finished first in Lausanne with 5.82m and third in Paris with 5.81m.
The line-up also features Ernes John Obiena from the Philippines, who improved his national record to 5.91m in Paris when he finished second to Duplantis, six-metre specialist KC Lightfoot, who finished fourth at the Olympic Games with 5.80m, three-time world outdoor medallist Piotr Lisek, this year’s European Indoor silver medallist Valentin Lavillenie from France, Manno Vloon from the Netherlands, who improved the national indoor record to 5.96m last February.
Women’s 200 metres:
Dina Asher-Smith has a good memory of the Brussels meeting, where she won the Diamond Trophy in the 100m in 2019 in 10.88 beating Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. The 25-year-old British sprinter did not get through to the 100 metres final due to a hamstring injury and had to withdraw from the 200m but she bounced back by winning the bronze medal in the 4x100 relay. After the Olympic Games, she finished third in the 200m at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in 22.19 and in the 100m in Paris in 11.06.
Jamaican sprinter Shericka Jackson won three Olympic medals (gold in the 4x100 relay and bronze in the 100m and in the 4x400 relay). Jackson improved her PBs to 10.76 in 100m and 21.82 in 200m.
Namibia’s 18-year-old rising star Christine Mboma will make her Diamond League debut one month after winning the Olympic silver in Tokyo in a world under 20 and African record of 21.81. Mboma went on to win the world under 20 title in Nairobi in 21.84.
Sha’Carri Richardson won the 100m at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, but she did not compete at the Olympic Games after testing positive to cannabis. The US sprinter came to the fore in 2019 when she won the 100m NCAA title setting the world under 20 record with 10.75. She improved her 100m PB to 10.72 in Miramar moving up to sixth in the world all-time list.
The 200m line-up also features Belgian sprinters Cynthia Bolingo and Rani Rosius. Bolingo smashed the Belgian record in the 400m with 50.29 last July in Nancy and PB in the 200m with 22.79 in Nivelles. Rosius won the European Under 23 silver medal in the 100m in Tallin last July.
Women’s high jump:
The top-5 finishers of the Tokyo Olympic Games, Mariya Lasitskene, Nicola McDermott, Yaroslava Mahuchik, Iryna Gerashchenko and Eleanor
Patterson and double Olympic heptathlon champion Nafissatou Thiam will line up in a great high jump competition.
Lasitskene won the first Olympic title of her career in Tokyo with a world leading mark of 2.04m after winning three world outdoor titles, two world indoor gold medals and two European outdoor titles. The Russian jumper won four Diamond Trophies and three editions of the Memorial Van Damme in 2015 (2.01m), 2017 (2.02m) and in 2019 (1.99m).
Nicola McDermott won last year’s edition of the Memorial Van Damme. The 24-year-old Australian jumper set two Oceanian records with 2.01m in the Wanda Diamond League in Stockolm and 2.02m in the Olympic final. After the Olympic Games McDermott finished third in Lausanne with 1.95m and won her first Diamond League competition in Paris with 1.98m beating Lasitskene on countback. She will be joined by her compatriot Eleanor Petterson, who finished fifth with 1.96m.
Yaroslava Mahuchik won two gold medals at the European Indoor Championships in Torun and the European Under 23 Championships in Tallin and the Olympic bronze medal with 2.00m. The 20-year-old Ukrainian jumper improved her indoor PB to 2.06m at the Indoor high jump meeting in Banska Bystrika last February. The Ukrainian jumper finished second to Lasitskene in Lausanne.
Ukraine will be also represented by Iryna Gerashchenko, who finished fourth in Tokyo with 1.98m and won the first Diamond League competition of her career in Eugene.
The Belgian crowd will cheer on Nafissatou Thiam, who won her second consecutive Olympic heptathlon gold medal with 6791 points. She cleared 1.92m in the heptathlon high jump event in Tokyo, but she set her lifetime best of 2.02m in Talence in 2019. Thiam won the high jump in two editions of the Memorial Van Damme in 2016 and 2018.
Nafi Thiam: “I am really looking forward to tomorrow. The neck pain, which forced me to miss the Wanda Diamond League in Eugene, is not bothering me any more. Unfortunately I had to miss the past two meets at the Memorial Van Damme, so it will be great to take part and finally compete in a stadium with spectators.
Men’s 100 metres:
Olimpic silver medallist Fred Kerley will clash against Trayvon Bromell in the men’s 100 metres.
Bromell clocked the seventh fastest time in history with 9.77 in the 100m in Miramar and won the US Trials in Eugene in 9”80, but he did not get through to the Olympic final in Tokyo. Bromell won the world bronze medal in the 100m in Beijing 2015 and the 60m world indoor gold medal in Portland 2016 before being sidelined by a serious Achilles tendon injury.
Bromell will take on Fred Kerley and Michael Norman. Kerley won the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo improving his PB to 9.84 two years after finishing third in the 400m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
After the Olympic Games in Tokyo Kerley finished second in the 200m in Lausanne in a wind-assisted 19.77 and won the 200m in Paris in 19.79 beating Kenny Bednarek in close photo-finish.
Kerley is part of an exclusive club of three sprinters who have run under 10 seconds in the 100m, under 20 seconds in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m. The other two sprinters, who have achieved this feat are Wayde Van Niekerk and Michael Norman.
Fred Kerley: “The decision to focus on the shorter sprint distances was just made by myself. My trainer and I were convinced that medals were a possibility in every sprint event. For me the season really took off at the Trials and this is why I am in the shape of my life. I want to be the best at all three distances. I have got the potential to break the 400m record. I want to be a legend, like Usain Bolt. I see him as a big brother. To me he will always have a spot on the podium of the greatest sprinters of all time. He is a big example”.
Kerley wants to relax ahead of the Brussels meeting.
“Intense training is not what I need at the end of a season. I mostly try to have a clear mind at the start this Friday. In the meantime I am going to relax by listening to music and discover Brussels a bit”.
Michael Norman won the 4x400 Olympic title in Tokyo and finished fifth in the 400m, but he will run the 100m this time. Norman set PBs of 9.86 in the 100m, 19.70 in the 200m and 43.45 in the 400m and won the US Trials in Eugene in 44.07.
Men’s 400 metres hurdles:
The men’s 400m hurdles race will make its return in the meeting program of the Memorial Van Damme since 2015.
Five of the eight Olympic finalists will be lining up in Brussels. Alison Dos Santos, who won the Olympic bronze in a South American record of 46.72, Kyron McMaster from British Virgin Island (fourth in 47.08), Abderrahmane Samba from Qatar (fifth in 47.12 and Asian record holder with 46.98), Yasmani Copello (sixth in 47.81) and Rasmus Magi (seventh in 48.11).
Sifan Hassan broke the one-hour world record in last year’s edition of the Memorial Van Damme. This year the Dutch runner will step down in distance to run the mile. She set the world record over the four-lap distance with 4:12.33 in Monaco in 2019 three months before claiming two world titles in the 1500m and in the 10000m. At this year’s Olympic Games she won two gold medals in the 5000m and 10000m and the bronze in the 1500m. During the 2021 season, she clocked 3:53.63 in Florence and 3:53.60 in Monaco and won the 5000m in Eugene in 14.27.90. She could attack the meeting record held by two-time 1500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon with 4:16.71 since 2015.
Sifan Hassan: “After the Olympics, I was really happy. At first, it was not easy to focus again, but I had some good training sessions and I am happy to go full speed on Friday. A 10000m at the end of the season would be physically and mentally too much, but for a fast tank, I have enough energy in the tank. I love the Memorial Van Damme, the stadium and the city. At the start of my career I competed here in cross country”.
She will face Linden Hall from Australia, who finished sixth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 3:59.01, Winnie Nanyondo from Uganda, fourth in the 800m at the World Championships in Doha, and European indoor champion Elise Vanderelst from Belgium.
Women’s 5000 metres:
Hellen Obiri will battle against Letesenbet Gidey in a 5000m clash between two Tokyo Olympic medallists. Obiri won two consecutive 5000m Olympic silver medals in Rio 2016 and a Tokyo 2021 and two world gold medals in London 2017 and Doha 2019. The Kenyan runner won the 5000m in Brussels in 14:25.88 in Brussels in 2017.
Gidey won the 10000m Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo and set the 5000m and 10000m world records with 14:06.62 and 29:01.03. She finished second in the 2 miles race with 9:06.74 in Eugene.
Burundi’s Francine Nyonsaba, who won two world indoor titles in the 800 metres in 2016 and 2018, claimed two consecutive races in the 2 miles with 9:00.75 and in the 3000 metres in 8:19.08 in Paris. Nyonsaba will face again Eygayehu Taye from Ethiopia, who finished second in Paris setting the national record with 8:19.52.
The other athletes to watch are Eilish McColgan, who broke the British record with 14:28.55 in Oslo this year, Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen, world bronze medallist in the 5000m in Doha 2019, kenyan runners Beatrice Chebet and Lilian Rengeruk, who clocked 8:27.49 and 8:28.96 in the 3000 metres respectively.
Men’s 1500 metres:
The three stand-out names are Australia’s Stewart McSweyn, Spain’s Mohamed Katir and Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen.
McSweyn set Oceanian records in the 1500m with 3:29.51 in Monaco in 2021, in the mile with 3:48.37 in Oslo in 2021 and in the men’s 3000m with 7:28.02 in Rome in 2020.
Katir broke three Spanish records this year clocking 3:28.76 in the 1500m, 7:27.64 in Gateshead in the 3000m and 12:50.76 at the Golden Gala in Florence, and Filip Ingebrigtsen, European champion in Amsterdam 2016 and world bronze medallist in London 2017 in the 1500m.
The line-up also features Abel Kipsang from Kenya and Spain’s Adel Mechaal, who finished fourth and fifth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Women’s 800 metres:
Olympic silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson from Great Britain will clash against her compatriot Jemma Reekie, who finished fourth in Tokyo. Hodgkinson improved Kelly Holmes’ Britsh record clocking 1:55.88 in the Olympic final. During her impressive season the British 19-year-old athlete won the European Indoor gold medal in Torun, Ostrava in 1:58.89, the British title in Manchester in 1:59.61 and finished fourth in Stockholm in 1:57.51 and fifth in Eugene in 1:58.30. The line-up also features two more Olympic finalists Habitam Alemu from Ethiopia and Natoya Goule (Jamaican record holder with 1:56.15), 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi, Rose Mary Almanza from Cuba, who won in Stockholm in 1:56.28 but did not get through to the Olympic final in Tokyo, and US Kate Grace, who did not qualify for the Olympic final but won the Oslo Diamond League race in 1:57.60 and finished in the top-three in Stockholm, Monaco and Eugene.
Men’s 400 metres:
This year’s Olympic bronze medallist Kirani James is the top name in the men’s 400m line-up. James won the bronze medal in Tokyo in 44.19 completing the full set of Olympic medals after winning gold in London 2012 and silver in Rio de Janeiro 2016. The Grenadan star will take on Olympic fourth placer Michael Cherry, who won in Rovereto in 44.55, Olympic sixth placer Christopher Taylor from Jamaica, and Liemarvin Bonevacia, who clocked 44.48 in Berne missing Thomas Schoenlebe’s European record by 0.15.
Women’s 100m hurdles:
This year’s Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper from Jamaica will face her compatriot Danielle Williams, who won the 100m hurdles race in Paris in 12.50, Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, fourth at at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 12.68, European indoor champion Nadine Visser from the Netherlands, who set the national record with 12.58, European Indoor silver medallist Cindy Sember from Great Britain, Gabrielle Cunningham, seventh in the Olympic final in Tokyo. Belgian fans will cheer on 2018 European Championships fourth placer Anne Zagré and Noor Vidts, fourth in the Olympic heptathon in Tokyo with 6571 points.
Men’s long jump:
Former world medallist Rushval Samaai from South Africa will face Eusebio Caceres from Spain (fourth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo), Filippo Randazzo from Italy (eighth in the Olympic final this year and winner in the Diamond League meeting in Gateshead), Steffin McCarter (third at the Olympic Trials in Eugene with 8.26m), Jente Hauttekeete from Belgium, European Under 20 champion in the decathlon, and Erwan Konate, world under 20 champion in Nairobi 2021.
Reigning world champions Daniel Stahl from Sweden and Yaimé Perez from Cuba started the Brussels Wanda Diamond League meeting with solid wins in the two discus throw competitions held at the Bois de la Cambre park.
Stahl threw the discus to 69.31m in the opening round setting the second-best ever record in Brussels. In the first two rounds the Tokyo Olympic champion was five metres ahead of 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius, who started the competition with 64.14m, and Germany’s Daniel Jasinski, who opened with 63.84m. Stahl fouled his next three attempts, but his lead was never seriously threatened.
European Under 23 champion and record holder Kristjan Ceh moved into second place with 65.32m in the third round and improved to 65.68m in the fifth round. World silver medallist Fedrick Dacres from Jamaica threw the discus to 65.17m in his fifth attempt. Stahl won the decisive Final 3 throw with 67.01m to claim the win.
In the women’s discus throw two-time Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic from Croatia took the early lead with 62.49m in the first round and improved to 64.44m. Yaimé Perez moved into first place with 66.47m in the second round to take the lead. This year’s Olympic champion Valarie Allman produced a throw of 64.20m in the second round.
Perkovic threw the discus to 65.14m in the third round. Allman improved to 64.25m in her third attempt. Perez backed up her lead with 64.65m and 64.86m in the third and fourth rounds.
Perez won the decisive Final 3 with a throw of 63.41m to beat Allman by just three centimetres. Perez claimed her second Diamond League of the 2021 season after her victory in Doha last May.
Blanka Vlasic and Mike Powell were inducted into the Memorial Van Damme’s Hall Of Fame, which was created in 2017. Vlasic and Powell were recognised by the Memorial Van Damme for the contribution to the meeting.
Vlasic made her debut at the Memorial Van Damme at the age of 17 and competed eight times in the top Belgian meeting. The Croatian high jump star won two world outdoor titles and finished second to Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut with 2.05m on countback in the Olympic final in Beijing.
Powell finished fifth in the men’s long jump at 21 in 1985 in his first appearance at the Memorial Van Damme. He won seven times in Brussels in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1994. Powell broke Bob Beamon’s world record with 8.95m at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo.