Birmingham Diamond League Event by Event Preview

Posted by: Watch Athletics

Seven reigning Olympic champions are set to compete in the Muller Birmingham Diamond League meeting in the renovated Alexander Stadium, which will host the Commonwealth Games next August. 

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Women’s 100 metres: 

Elaine Thompson Herah has pulled out of the 100 metres due to some discomfort in training, but the line-up features six sub-11 seconds sprinters, including Shericka Jackson from Jamaica, Gabrielle Thomas and Cambrea Sturgis from USA, Dina Asher Smith and Darryil Neita from Great Britain and Ajla Del Ponte from Switzerland. 

Jackson won gold in the 4x100 relay, and bronze in the 100m in her PB of 10.76 and in the 4x400 relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The 27-year-old Jamaican sprinter finished sixth in the 60m in her lifetime best of 7.04 at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade last March and won two world bronze medals in the 400m and the 4x400 relay in Doha 2019. She finished second in the 200m in the Doha Diamond League meeting in 22.07 behind Gabby Thomas, who set the third fastest time in the world with 21.98. Jackson ran 11.08 into a headwind of -1.8 m/s in Kingston so far this season. 

Thomas will be lining up in Birmingham. The US sprinter, who graduated in neurobiology at the Harvard University, won the Olympic bronze medal in the 200m and the silver medal in the 4x100 relay in Tokyo. Thomas equalled her PB of 11.00 in the heats of the USATF Golden Games in Walnut before clocking a wind-assisted 10.86 in the final. She later won the 200m in the Walnut meeting in 22.02. She later ran faster with a wind-assisted 10.80 (+3.2 m/s) at the Michael Johnson Invitational in Waco.  

During the press conference on the eve of the Birmingham Thomas gave her thought on the chance to compete on the brand new track of the  Alexander Stadium. 

Gabrielle Thomas: “The stadium looks really beautiful and I am really excited for the energy that will come with the stadium. I know that the UK has a lot of athletics fans, so it’s going to be a fun competition”. 

Double Olympic 4x100 Dina Asher Smith will be looking for win in front of her home fans. The British sprint star won the 200m gold medal and two silver medals in the 100m and in the 4x100 relay at the World Championships in Doha 2019 and holds British records in the 100m with 10.83 and in the 200m in 21.88. She also won three European gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100 relay and the Diamond League title in the 100m in Brussels 2019. She prepares to defend her world and European titles in Eugene and Munich next summer. 

Dina Asher Smith: “Last year was full of emotional ups and downs. I am now a stronger athlete because of it. I was in great shape early in the season and I was heartbroken not to be able to compete to my full potential in Tokyo, but I was also incredibly proud to come home with a medal and finish my year so strongly. That’s behind me now. My focus is on the busy summer ahead. I am looking forward to returning to Birmingham for the first time since 2019 and to kick start my season the best possible way”. 

Neita finished eighth in the 100m Olympic final in Tokyo and improved her PB to 10.93 in the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich. She is the second fastest British sprinter in history behind Asher Smith. 

Cambrea Sturgis is the fastest sprinter in the field based on seasonal best times with her PB of 10.87 set in Greensboro last April and won the NCAA title in 10.74 in Eugene last year. 

European 60m indoor champion Ajla Del Ponte will make her seasonal debut. Del Ponte finished fifth in the Olympic 100m final in Tokyo and improved her Swiss record to 10.90 in La Chaux de Fonds last August. 

Men’s 100 metres:

Olympic 200 metres champion André De Grasse headlines a great 100m line-up that also features 2016 world indoor champion Trayvon Bromell and former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake from Jamaica. The British contingent is led by reigning 100m European champion Zharnell Hughes, European silver medallist Reece Prescod and 2017 world 4x100 relay champion Nethaneel Mitchell Blake. 

De Grasse won the 100m bronze medal in his lifetime best of 9.89 and the 200m gold medal in a Canadian record of 19.62 and the silver medal in the 4x100 relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year. He also finished second in the 100m equalling his PBs with 9.89 and in the 200m in 19.72 in the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich. De Grasse finished fourth in the 200 metres in 20.15 in his season opener in Doha last week.  

André De Grasse: “It will be great to race against such a world-class field in the UK at the Muller Birmingham Diamond League meeting. 2021 was a really strong year for me, as I won three Olympic medals. I am looking forward to starting my season strongly against the world’s best at the Alexander Stadium”. 

Bromell will be aiming to make up for his disappointment at last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he did not get through to the 100m final after winning the US Olympic Trials in Eugene. Bromell ended his 2021 season with a PB of 9.76 in the Continental Tour meeting in Nairobi last September. He won the 100m in Gateshead in 9.98 last July in his last appearance in a British meeting. 

Trayvon Bromell: “The last time I competed in the UK I took the victory over the 100 metres, so I will be looking to produce another strong performance for the British crowd. With the World Championships taking place in Oregon in the summer, racing against such a competitive field is really important, so I am looking forward to lining up against them”. 

The former world 60m indoor champion showed his good form winning in the Continental Tour silver meeting in Ponce in a seasonal best of 9.92. 

Yohan Blake won the 100m in 10.07 in his last appearance in Birmingham in 2019. 

Yohan Blake: “Birmingham holds some great memories for me including my victory here at the Diamond League a few years ago. The UK crowd are always incredible, so I am really pleased to be racing in front of them once again, and also get a chance to compete on the new track against a strong field”. 

Men’s 110 metres hurdles: 

Reigning olympic champion Hansle Parchment will clash against  2016 Olympic champion Omar McLeod in the men’s 110 metres hurdles. The two Jamaican hurdlers will be joined by 2018 world indoor champion Andy Pozzi from Great Britain, former world indoor bronze medallist Auriel Manga, and David King, who finished sixth in the 60m hurdles at the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade last March. 

Parchment won a surprising 110m hurdles gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 13”04 beating world indoor record holder Grant Holloway. The 31-year-old Jamaican hurdler had previously won the Olympic bronze medal in London 2012, the world silver medal in Beijing 2015 and the silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He clocked 13.20 in his first race of the season in Kingston. 

Hansle Parchment: “I am feeling good, I think I am in good form. I still have  a lot of work to do but I am looking forward to executing a really good race”. 

McLeod won the world indoor title in the 60m hurdles in Portland 2016 and the world outdoor gold medal in London 2017. The 28-year-old hurdler started his outdoor season with 13.27 in Coral Gables and 13.22 at the Penn Relay in Philadelphia. 

Andy Pozzi will be looking to return to his best form after a series of challenges in recent times. Pozzi, who grew up in Stratford upon Avon near Birmingham, equalled his PB clocking 13.14 in Monaco in 2020 and finished seventh in the Olympic final in Tokyo. This year the 2017 European Indoor gold medallist reached the semifinal at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. The British hurdler clocked a wind-assisted 13.46 at the Pure Athletics Spring Invitational in Florida last April. 

Andy Pozzi: “I was disappointed not to reach the World indoor final in Belgrade, but I am continuing to make progress as I build towards the start of the summer and the prospect of three huge championships to aim for”. 

Men’s high jump: 

Olympic champion Gianmarco Tamberi from Italy will clash against Hamish Kerr from New Zealand and world indoor silver medallist Loic Gasch from Switzerland. 

Tamberi returned to medal-winning form on British soil when he claimed the European Indoor gold medal in Glasgow 2019 with 2.32m. Last year the 29-year-old Italian jumper shared the Olympic gold medal with his friend and rival Mutaz Barshim in Tokyo in a great competition, where three jumpers cleared 2.37m in the same event for the first time in history. 

Gianmarco Tamberi: “2021 was the best year of my life so far, but I have new goals with the World and the European Championships ahead this summer. It was my biggest question after the Olympics if I would have been motivated in the same way. I finished eighth at the World Championships in Doha in 2019 and I am motivated by Eugene. The hard work has already worked and I am looking forward to competing in Birmingham. I won the European Indoor title the last time I competed in the UK and the crowd support was unbelievable. After two years of almost silence due to the pandemic, to know that there will be an electric atmosphere gives me a huge buzz and I can’t wait to get out there and jump”. 

Kerr shared the world indoor bronze medal with Tamberi at 2.31m in Belgrade. Outdoors he cleared 2.30m in Auckland last February and finished fourth with 2.24m in Doha last week. 

The line-up also features Loic Gasch, who won the world indoor silver medal in Belgrade with a national indoor record of 2.31m, Canada’s Django Lovett, who finished third in the Diamond League meeting in Doha with 2.27, Shelby McEwen from the USA, who cleared a PB of 2.33m last year. 

Women’s pole vault: 

Four of the top five world ranked female pole vaulters will battle it out for the first Diamond League points. 

Reigning Olympic champion Katie Nageotte will clash against double world indoor champion Sandi Morris, Rio 2016 Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi and last year’s Olympic bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw from Great Britain. 

Morris retained her world indoor title in Belgrade last March with 4.80m bouncing back from a difficult 2021 season, when she was forced to withdraw from the qualifying round at the Olympic Games in Tokyo due to an injury problem. Morris won the Olympic silver medal in Rio de Janeiro behind Stefanidi and two world outdoor silver medals in London 2017 and Doha 2019. She won at two Diamond League meetings on British soil in Birmingham 2018 and Gateshead 2021. 

Nageotte won the US Trials with her PB of 4.95m, the Olympic gold medal with 4.90m and three Diamond League competitions in Doha, Eugene and Monaco. Last March she finished second to Morris at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade with 4.75m. 

Katie Nageotte: “I am excited to be headed for Birmingham in May. The pole vault community is very tight-knit and sharing the Olympic podium with British pole vaulter Holly was an incredible moment. I am looking forward to coming to the UK. I know that the crowd there love the event and Holly is such an amazing competitor. I am sure there will be a great atmosphere and I am looking forward to checking out the Alexander Stadium”.

Bradshaw improved her British outdoor record to win the British title in Manchester in 2021 before winning the Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo with 4.85m. The Blackburn pole vaulter finished last year’s outdoor season with a fourth place in the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich with 4.67m. She was forced to miss the indoor season due to glandular fever last winter. 

Holly Bradshaw: “I am so happy to be opening my season at my home Diamond League but having these girls join at Birmingham makes it even better. With the World Championships taking place in mid-July the early fixtures will be super competitive and I can’t wait to get going. I am entering this new phase where I feel weightless. I feel like it’s next three years that I earned the right to enjoy the moment”. 

Stefanidi will be cahsing her third win at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham where she won in 2017 and 2019 clearing 4.75m both times. The Greek star won the world outdoor title in London 2017 with her PB of 4.91m. 

Women’s long jump: 

Reigning Olympic, world and European champion Malaika Mihambo from Germany, double world indoor champion Ivana Vuleta, European indoor champion Maryna Beck Romanchuk from the Ukraine, 2019 heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson Thompson and world indoor bronze medallist Lorraine Ugen and last year’s Olympic finalist Jasmine Sawyers, European Indoor bronze medallist Khaddi Sagnia from Sweden, world indoor pentathlon bronze medallist Kendall Williams from the USA will headline a great women’s long jump competition. 

Mihambo won the European outdoor gold medal on home soil in Berlin in 2018, the world title with her PB of 7.30m, setting the second best German performance of all-time and the Olympic title in Tokyo with 7.00m in the final attempt. She jumped 6.96m indoors last winter and recently tested her speed clocking 17.28 in the 150 metres. 

Malaika Mihambo: “In spite of my Olympic title, last year had many challenges and it was important for me to get totally healthy before building towards the defence of my world and European titles this year. I am looking forward to getting back into competition and Birmingham will provide me the opportunity to set the benchmark”. 

Ivana Vuleta won her second consecutive world indoor title in Belgrade last March with a world leading mark of 7.06m. The 31-year-old Serbian jumper won three European indoor titles, the European outdoor title and the Olympic bronze medal in 2016, two-time world bronze medals and three 2021 Wanda Diamond titles (2016, 2017 and 2021). Vuleta leads 9-6 in her head-to-head clashes against Mihambo. 

Ivana Vuleta: “I owed it to myself to win in Serbia and it meant so much to achieve that in front of a home crowd. I have enjoyed a successful career so far, but I have big goals still to achieve, not least improving my World Championships bronze medals, and I hope to get my season off to a strong start in Birmingham”. 

Beck Romanchuk won the world silver medal behind Mihambo in Doha, the European Indoor gold medal in Torun 2021 and an emotional world indoor silver bronze medal in the triple jump last March in Belgrade before finishing sixth in the long jump on the same day. The Ukrainian jumper finished second in the triple jump with a wind-assisted 14.73m in the opening leg of the Diamond League in Doha. 

Maryna Bekh Romanchuk:  “My medal in Belgrade was for my country and my people. While my heart remains in Ukraine, I cannot lose sight of my dreams. I finished second in the European Championships in 2019, and my aim is to improve on both of these positions this summer, a long jump campaign which I am looking forward to getting underway in Birmingham”

Reigning world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson Thompson from Great Britain will compete in front of her home fans. The 29-year-old British heptathlon specialist is ranked third on the British all-time list with 6.93m. She won the world indoor gold medal in the pentathlon in Birmingham 2018, the world indoor long jump silver medal in 2014, the European heptathlon silver medal in 2018 and the world gold medal in the heptathlon in Doha 2019 with the British record of 6981 points. 

Katarina Johnson Thompson: “I have had a lot of ups and downs in my career, and it’s really taught me to grasp opportunities when they come along, as you never know what is around the corner”. 

Ugen won the European Indoor silver medal in Belgrade 2017 with the British Indoor record of 6.97m behind Vuleta and the world indoor bronze medal in the Serbian capital with 6.82m last March. She is second on the all-time list with an outright of 7.05m. 

Women’s discus throw: 

Olympic champion Valarie Allman and two-time Olympic gold medallist Sandra Perkovic lead the field. Allman improved her Northern American record by 30 cm to 71.46m set in San Diego last April moving up to 15th in the world all-time list. She also threw 69.46m in California one week later. Last year the US thrower won the Olympic title in Tokyo and the Diamond League final in Zurich. Allman will square off against two-time Olympic and world champion Sandra Perkovic from Croatia, who won six Diamond Trophies in her career. 

The line-up is rounded out by French veteran Melina Robert Michon, Olympic silver medallist in Rio de Janeiro 2016, Liliana Ca from Portugal and Jade Lally from Great Britain. 

Men’s discus throw: 

The Birmingham line-up will feature the entire podium of the Olympic Games. Reigning olympic and world champion Daniel Stahl from Sweden will take on his compatriot Simon Petterson and Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger, 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius from Lithuania and European Under 23 champion and record holder Kristjan Ceh, who set his PB with 70.35m last year. Stahl leads the world seasonal list with his best throw of 69.11m set in Chula Vista last April and won two more competitions on US soil with 68.44m in Tucson and 67.65m in Walnut. 

Women’s 800 metres: 

Olympic 800 metres silver medallist and British record holder Keely Hodgkinson will return to Birmingham, where she broke the national Indoor record last February at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix clocking 1:57.20, the fastest indoor time for 20 years. Hodgkinson won the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo breaking Kelly Holmes’ long standing British outdoor with 1:55.88 and won the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich. She was forced to withdraw from the World Indoor Championships due to a strain to her right quad. 

Keely Hodgkinson: “Last year was incredible from start to finish, which made the decision to come out of the world indoors even harder. I have never had to pull out of a race before, but it’s about looking at the bigger picture and making sure the problem is fixed and does not reoccur”. 

Hodgkinson renew her rivalry against Jamaica’s olympic finalist Natoya Goule, who won the 800m race in Brussels beating the British athlete, European silver medallist Renelle Lamote from France, who competes for the first time since the Olympic Games, Alexandra Bell from Great Britain, who finished seventh in the 800m Olympic final in Tokyo in 1:57.66, and Gaia Sabbatini from Italy, who won the European Under 23 gold medal in Tallin 2021 and broke the Italian 1000m indoor record clocking 2:38.67 in the Birmingham World Indoor Tour meeting last February. 

Women’s 5000 metres: 

Burundi’s Francine Nyonsaba will be looking for back-to-back Diamond League wins after taking the victory in the 3000 metres in Doha. Nyonsaba won the Diamond League final in Zurich last year and three more races in the circuit last year (2 miles in Eugene, 3000 metres in Paris and 5000m in Brussels). Nyonsaba will face a very competitive Ethiopian contingent featuring Ejgayehu Taye, Girmawit Gebrezahir, Dawit Seyaum and Fantu Worku. 

Taye set the Ethiopian record in the 3000m clocking 8:19.52 in the Paris Diamond League meeting and her 5000m PB with 14:14.09 in Hengelo in 2021, and won the world indoor bronze medal in the 3000m in 8.42.23. Gebrzihair ran a world-leading time in the 5000m of 14.49.67 in Nairobi earlier this match. Seyaum finished fifth at the World Indoor Championships in the 3000m in 2016 and won two World Indoor Tour races in the 1500m in Birmingham and in the 3000m in Liévin.  Worku finished sixth in the World Championships in the 5000m in Doha 2019 and clocked PBs of 14:26.80 in the 5000m in Oslo and 8:30.76 in the 3000m in Paris in 2021. 

Nadia Battocletti from Italy will run her second Diamond League race this year after setting her PB of 8:50.66 in the 3000m in Doha last week. The Italian athlete won the European Under 23 gold medal in Tallin and finished seventh at the Olympic Games in Tokyo setting the second fastest national time in history with 14:46.29. 

Jessica Judd from Great Britain carries the hopes of homes fans after securing her spot for the World Championships in Eugene in the 10000 metres clocking 31:22.24 in Highgate last week. 

Women’s 1500 metres: 

Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir will open her season over 1500 metres in a head-to-head clash against her training partner Jemma Reekie. 

Muir won the European 1500m title and the silver medal over this distance and the bronze in the 3000m in Birmingham 2018. The Scottish middle distance runner improved her own British record to 3:54.60 in the Olympic final, where she finished second to Faith Kypiegon. Muir missed the indoor season due to an injury problem. 

Laura Muir: “I had an incredible year in 2021, and to win my first global medal at the Olympic Games has really given me confidence that I am capable of making the podium in Eugene. It was frustrating for me not to be able to compete indoors over the winter, especially when my training had been going so well, but my focus was 100% on getting healthy, so I can be in the best possible shape to compete for Great Britain at the World and European Championships, as well as for the Commonwealth Games”. 

Reekie finished fourth in the 800m in the Olympic final in Tokyo improving her PB to 1:56.90, the fourth fastest time on the British all-time list behind Hodgkinson, Kelly Holmes and Muir. The Scottish athlete was diagnosed with glandular fever, but she has returned to full fitness following a training camp in South Africa. 

The British stars will take on Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji, who won the world under 20 gold medal in the 800 metres in Tampere 2018 and clocked a world leading time of 4:01.50 in the Nairobi Continental Tour meeting, two-time world indoor 1500m silver medallist Axumawit Embaye, Jessica Hull from Australia, who finished third in the 3000m in the Diamond League meeting in Doha in 8:40.97, and Kenya’s Winnie Chebet, seventh in the 1500m in 3:58.20 at the World Championships in Doha.

Men’s 800 metres:

Olympic silver and world bronze medallist Feruson Rotich will go head-to-head against Belgrade 2022 world indoor champion Mariano Garcia from Spain, Olympic bronze medallist Patryk Dobek from Poland, 2019 world championships fourth placer Bryce Hoppel, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy, Australia’s Peter Bol, who finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kyniamal from Kenya, who won two Diamond League races in 2021 in Doha and Paris, Jake Wightman, who won the European 1500m bronze medal and set a lifetime best of 3:29.47 in Monaco in 2020, and European Under 23 silver medallist Daniel Rowden, who improved his PB to 1:44.09 in Zagreb 2020. 

Men’s 1500 metres: 

Samuel Tefera from Ethiopia, two-time world indoor 1500m champion in Birmingham 2018 and Belgrade 2022, will clash against Mohamed Katir, the fastest entrant with his national record of 3:28.76 set in Monaco last year and winner of two DL races on British soil last year in the 5000m and 3000m in Gateshead, Adel Mechaal from Spian, fifth in the Olympic final in Tokyo in 3:30.77, world indoor bronze medallist Abel Kipsang, who set the world seasonal best with 3:31.01 and won the first Diamond League race of the season in Doha, Josh Kerr from Great Britain, olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo 2021 in his PB of 3:29.05, Stewart McSweyn, Olympic 1500m seventh placer with 3:31.91 and Australian outdoor record holder with 3:29.51 in Monaco last year, and Ollie Hoare, who finished fifth in the 2022 World Indoor Championships and set the Australian indoor record with 3:32.35. 

The other British athletes in the field are European Under 23 silver medallist and British Indoor champion Piers Copeland, and 2016 European under 18 champion George Mills.  

Women’s 400 metres hurdles: 

Five of the eight Olympic finalists in Tokyo will line up in Birmingham, including reigning world champion Daliah Muhammad, who won the Olympic silver medal behind world record holder Sydney McLaughlin setting the second fastest time in history with 51.58. With this time Muhammad was inside the previous world record. The US hurdler also won the Olympic gold medal in Rio 2016, the world sliver medal in London 2017 and the world title in Doha 2019 in the previous world record of 52.16. 

Muhammad will take on Tokyo Olympic fourth placer Janieve Russell from Jamaica, Anna Ryzhikova from the Ukraine, who finished fifth in Tokyo and set a national record of 52.96 in Stockolm last year, Viktorya Tkachuk, sixth in the Olympic final in 53.79, Gianna Woodruff from Panama, seventh in Tokyo and winner in the Diamond League meeting in Paris in 54.44 last year, Jessie Knight, who set her PB of 54.23 in Berne last August, and Lina Nielsen from Great Britain, who set a World Championships qualifying standard with 54.65 in Jacksonville last April. 

Men’s 400 metres: 

Matthew Hudson Smith from Great Britain, who won the European 400m title in Berlin in 2018, lines up against 400m specialist Vernon Norwood, Olympic 4x400 relay champion Bryce Deadmon and Olympic 4x400 bronze medallist Isaac Makwala from Botswana. Hudson Smith came close to his PB clocking 44.61 in Baton Rouge last April. 

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