The 2023 Allianz Memorial Ivo Van Damme is set to be a star-studded event with the participation of 14 global champions from the recent Budapest World Championships. Highlighting the roster are names like Femke Bol, who excelled in the women's 400 metres hurdles and 4x400 relay, Sherika Jackson in the women's 200 metres, Jakob Ingebrigtsen for the men’s 5000 metres, and a slew of other remarkable athletes including Armand Duplantis, Yaroslava Mahuchik, Winfred Yavi, Mary Moraa, Haruka Kitaguchi, Chase Ealey, Quincy Hall, Lieke Klaver, Eveline Saalberg, and Cathelijn Peeters. The prestigious competition will unfold on the freshly laid track of the refurbished King Baudouin Stadium.
“The track at the King Baudouin Stadium has always been a new track, but it was worn down to the bone. It was high time for a new one. It was fine for sprinters, but the old track had become too hard for distance runners”, said Meeting Director and former Belgian sprint star Kim Gaevert.
Women’s 400 hurdles:
Two-time Wanda Diamond League champion Femke Bol will chase her fifth Diamond League win of the season. The Dutch woman broke four meeting meeting records in Florence with 52.43, Oslo in 52.30, Lausanne with 52.76 and in London with 51.45, which is also the Diamond League record. She extended her winning streak on the circuit to 18 competitions. At the World Championships in Budapest Bol won two gold medals in the 400 metres hurdles in 51.70 and in the 4x400 relay in 3:20.72.
Last winter Bol broke Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 41-year-old world indoor record in the 400 metres with 49.26 at the Dutch Indoor Championships and won her second European Indoor gold medal in Istanbul
Bol will face the Jamaican trio formed by world bronze medallist Rushell Clayton, world bronze medallist in Doha 2019 and Budapest 2023, two-time Commonwealth Games champion Janieve Russell and Andreanette Knight, who finished seventh and eighth at the World Championships in Budapest.
The only US hurdler in the line-up is Anna Cockrell, who finished fifth in 53.34 in Budapest and double NCAA champion in the 100m and 400m hurdles in 2021.
Ayomide Folorunso will run her second Diamond League race in one week after finishing third in Xiamen in 54.08 beating Russell and Knight. Folorunso placed sixth in the World Championships final in Budapest in 54.19 after breaking the Italian record with 53.89 in the semifinal.
The line-up is completed by Viktoriya Tkachuk, sixth in the Olympic final in Tokyo in 53.79, and Hanne Claes from Belgium, who improved her PB to 54.33.
Men’s pole vault:
Reigning world and Olympic champion Armand “Mondo” Duplantis has been one the biggest crowd favourites at the Memorial Van Damme since 2018, when he made his first appearance at this meeting. He competed four times in Brussels and won twice in 2020 with 6.00 and in 2021 setting the meeting record of 6.05m.
Duplantis won two world outdoor gold medals in Eugene 2022 breaking the world record with 6.21m and in Budapest 2023 with 6.10m. After Budapest he won the Weltklasse Zurich with 6.00m.
The Swedish star also claimed the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo with 6.02m, the world indoor title in Belgrade with a world record of 6.20m and two consecutive European gold medals in Berlin 2018 with a world under 20 record of 6.05m and in Munich in 2022 with a championship record of 6.06m. He broke the world record for the sixth time in his career with 6.22m in Clermont Ferrand to increase the number of his career six metre-plus clearances to 60.
The Swedish star lost the only competition of the 2022 season in last year’s edition of the Memorial Van Damme when he finished runner-up to Ernest John Obiena, who cleared 5.91m.
The line-up features five more World Championships finalists.
Obiena won two world medals finishing third in Eugene 2022 with 5.94m and second in Budapest equalling his Asian record with 6.00m.
The entire world championships podium is completed by Christopher Nilsen and Kurtis Marshall, who shared the bronze medal with 5.95m at the World Championships in Budapest.
Nilsen won the US Championships in Eugene with 5.91m and the Diamond League meeting in Monaco with 5.92m.
Marshall, who won two Commonwealth Games titles in 2018 and 2022, improved his PB to 5.95m in Sotteville Les Rouen and finished second to Duplantis in Ostrava with 5.90m.
Belgian record holder Ben Broeders will compete in front of his home fans. Broeders finished seventh at the World Championships in Budapest with 5.75m. Broeders will be joined by other top eight finishers in Budapest: Thibaut Collet from France (fifth with 5.90m) and Zach McWhorther (eighth with 5.75m).
Men’s 2000 metres:
Jakob Ingebrigtsen will attack the 2000 metres world record set by Moroccan middle distance runner Hicham El Guerrouj with 4:44.79 in Berlin in 1999. The world record over this distance was held in the past by Nouredine Morceli, Said Aouita, Steve Cram and John Walker. Belgium’s Gaston Reiff set the 2000 metres world record crossing the finish-line in 5:07 in Brussels in 1948.
Ingebrigtsen will compete at the Memorial Van Damme for the third time in his career. Ingebrigtsen finished second in 3:31.62 in 2019 and won in 2020 in 3:30.69.
The Norwegian star won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2021 in a European record of 3:28.32, two consecutive world gold medals in the 5000m and two world silver medals in the 1500m in Eugene 2022 and in Budapest 2023
He improved his own European record twice this season clocking 3:27.95 in Oslo and 3:27.14 in Chorzow and set the world all-time best time in the two miles with 7:54.10 in Paris.
Ingebrigtsen will face his compatriot Gilje Narve Nordas, who improved his PB to 3:29.47 in Oslo and won the world bronze medal in Budapest in 3:29.68.
The Kenyan challenge is led by Abel Kipsang, fourth at the World Championships in the 1500m in 3:29.89, Reynold Kipkorir Cheruyiot, world under 20 champion in Cali 2022 and third at the Diamond League meeting In Chorzow in his lifetime best of 3:30.30.
The brand new track of the King Baudouin Stadium will host the women’s 100m, the 200m, the 400m in the meeting programme.
Women’s 200 metres:
Shericka Jackson won her second consecutive world gold medal in Budapest improving her PB by four hundredths of a second to 21.41. Jackson missed Florence Griffith Joyner’s world record by eight hundredths of a second. Jackson also won two silver medals in the 100m in 10.72 and in the 4x100 relay in 41.21.
The Jamaican star won three Diamond League 200m races in Rabat in 21.98, Monaco in 21.86 and Zurich with 21.82. She won the 100 metres in the 2022 edition of the Memorial Van Damme in 10.73.
Daryll Neita from Great Britain performed very well in the 200 metres this year and finished fifth in the World Championships in Budapest in a personal best of 22.16m and second in Zurich in 22.25.
Anthonique Strachan from the Bahamas finished second in Rabat in 22.15.
Jenna Prandini won the world gold medal in the 4x100 relay in Eugene in 41.14 and the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo. The US sprinter set her PB of 21.89 at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene in 2021.
Jasmine Camacho Quinn will run her first 200 metres of the season. The Olympic champion holds a PB over this distance of 22.27.
Women’s 100 metres:
Elaine Thompson is returning to her best shape and improved her seasonal best twice to 11.00 in Zurich and 10.92 in Bellinzona. The Jamaican sprinter won the double Olympic gold medal in both the 100 metres and in the 200 metres and set the second fastest time in history with her PB of 10.54 at the 2021 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene.
Dina Asher Smith returns to Brussels where she won the Diamond League Trophy in 2019 in 10.88 a few weeks before winning the world title in Doha. The British sprinter finished eighth in both 100m and 200m at the World Championships in Budapest. She set a seasonal best of 10.85 at the Diamond League in London on home soil.
The line-up also features Natasha Morrison from Jamaica, world silver medallist in the 4x100 relay in Budapest, Shashalee Forbes from Jamaica, second at the Jamaican Championships in Kingston In 10.96, Tamara Clarke, who set a PB of 10.88 at the US Championships in 2022, Zoe Hobbs from New Zealand, Oceanian record holder with 10.97, Gina Bass, sixth in the 200 metres at the World Championships in Doha 2019, and Rani Rosius from Belgium, fourth in the 60 metres in 7.15 at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul 2022.
Men’s 200 metres:
Erryion Knighton will make his second appearance in the 200 metres in Brussels after his win in 20.07 into a strong headwind.
Knighton won four races in Florence in 19.89, in Oslo in 19.77 (breaking Usain Bolt’s meeting record), in Bydgoszcz in 19.95 and the US Championships in Eugene in 19.72 and finished runner-up in Zurich in 19.87. At the World Championships in Budapest he reached the podium for the second consecutive edition by winning the silver medal in 19.72.
Knighton finished fourth at the Olympic Games in 19.93 in 2021 at the age of 17 and won the world bronze medal in Eugene in 19.80.
Knighton will face Zharnel Hughes, who won the European gold medal in Munich 2022 and finished third at the Diamond League meeting in London in 19.73 missing Pietro Mennea’s European record by just one hundredth of a second. The British sprinter finished fourth at the World Championships in Budapest in 20.02.
The other world championships finalists in the field are Kenny Bednarek (fifth), André De Grasse (sixth) and Joseph Fahnbulleh from Liberia (seventh). De Grasse won the Olympic gold medal in the 200m in a national record of 19.62 beating Bednarek by six hundredths of a second. Fahnbulleh finished fifth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 19.98 and fourth at the World Championships in Eugene in 19.84.
Italian sprint star Filippo Tortu won the world silver medal in the 4x100 relay in 37.62 in Budapest with his teammates Roberto Rigali, Marcell Jacobs and Lorenzo Patta. Tortu added this medal to the Olympic gold medal in the 4x100 relay and the bronze in the 200 metres at the European Championships in Munich 2022.
Women’s high jump:
Ukraine’s 21-year-old high jump star Yaroslava Mahuchik set the Memorial Van Damme meeting record by clearing a national record of 2.05m in 2022, just four cm shy of the world record held by Stefka Kostadinova with 2.09m at the World Championships in Rome in 1987. She took another win at the Belgian meeting with 2.02m in 2021.
Mahuchik claimed her first world outdoor gold medal in Budapest with 2.02,
In her career Mahuchik also won the Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo in 2021 with 2.00m, the world indoor gold medal in Belgrade with 2.02m, the world silver medal in Eugene with 2.02m, the European outdoor gold medal in Munich with 1.95m and the the European Indoor gold medal in Istanbul with 1.98m.
Mahuchik has been living and training in Belgium since the start of the war in the Ukraine.
Yaroslava Mahuchik: “The Memorial Van Damme feels like a home competition for me. I am very well received in Belgium. My ambitions this year is primarily with the World Championships in Budapest, but I also hope to shine at the Allianz Memorial Van Damme, just like last year”.
Mahuchik will take on world silver medallist Eleanor Patterson from Australia in a re-make of the World Championships in Budapest. Patterson reached the podium at the past two editions of the World Championships winning gold in Eugene with 2.02m and silver in Budapest with 1.99m.
The other top contenders are Iryna Geraschenko from Ukraine, who finished second in Lausanne with 2.00m and in Monaco with 1.96m, Morgan Lake, fourth at the World Championships in Budapest with 1.97m, Angelina Topic from Serbia, European under 20 champion in Jerusalem 2023, Lia Apostolovski from Slovenia, third at the European Under 23 Championships in Tallin 2021.
Men’s 400 metres:
Matthew Hudson Smith starts as the favourite in the men’s 400 metres. The British athlete broke the long-standing European record held by Thomas Schoenlebe by clocking 44.26 in the semifinal of the World Championships in Budapest. He went on to win the silver medal in 44.31. Hudson Smith also won two European gold medals in Berlin 2018 and Munich 2022.
Hudson Smith will take on Quincy Hall, two-time NCAA champion and world bronze medaliist in the 400 metres in 44.37 and gold medallist in the 4x400 relay.
The other athlete to watch is Harvard Bengdal ingvaldsen, who made a major breakthrough when he smashed his PB to 44.86 at the Bislett Games in Oslo. Ingvaldsen won the European under 23 gold medal in Espoo in 45.13. The 20-year-old Norwegian athlete improved his PB to 44.39 in the heats of the World Championships in Budapest before finishing sixth in the final.
Belgian fans will cheer on Dylan Borlée and Alexander Doom, who reached the semifinals at the World Championships in Budapest.
Women’s 400 metres:
Belgian fans will cheer on local star Cynthia Bolingo, who became the first Belgian athlete to break the 50 seconds barrier with 49.96 in the semifinal of the World Championships in Budapest before finishing fifth in 49.96.
Bolingo will face another sub-50 seconds performer Lieke Klaver, who reached two consecutive World Championships finals finsishing fourth in Eugene 2022 and sixth in Budapest 2023 with the same time in 50.33. The Dutch athelete broke the 50 seconds barrier three times clocking 49.81 in Chorzow, 49.99 in Monaco and 49.87 in the semifinal at the World Championships in Budapest.
World 800 metres champion Mary Moraa from Kenya will step down in distance to run the 400 metres. Moraa ran two Diamond League races in the 400 metres. She set a national record of 50.38 at the Kenyan Trials before finishing sixth in the Monaco Diamond League meeting in 50.48.
Women’s triple jump:
Maryna Beck Romanshuk is the only athlete in the line-up with a PB over the 15 metres. The Ukrainian jumper won the gold medal with 15.02m at the European Championships in Munich and the world silver medal with 15.00m in Budapest.
The other world championships finalists in the field are Shanieka Ricketts from Jamaica, fourth with 14.93m, Thea Lafond from Dominica, fifth with a national record of 14.90m, Dariya Derkach, eighth with 14.36m, Ottavia Cestonaro, tenth with 14.05m. The line-up is completed by Tori Franklin, world bronze medallist with 14.72m.
Women’s javelin throw:
Haruka Kitaguchi from Japan will chase her third win in the Diamond League after her victories in Paris with 65.09m and Chorzow with 67.04m. The Japanese thrower claimed the world gold medal with 66.73m in Budapest.
The other Budapest World Championships medallist in the line-up is Colombia’s Flor Denis Ruiz Hurtado, who won the silver medal with a national record of 65.47m.
The line-up features Victoria Hudson from Austria, fifth at the World Championships in Budapest with 62.42m, Tori Peeters from New Zealand, national record holder with 63.26m, Lina Muze from Latvia, sixth at the World Championships in Eugene 2022.
Women’s shot put:
The women’s shot put will be held as a Street Event at the Mint Square in the centre of Brussels on Thursday
US Chase Ealey won her second consecutive world title in Budapest with 20.43m. She won last year’s Diamond League final in Zurich with 20.19m. Ealey will chase her first Diamond League competition of the season.
Ealey will face Sarah Mitton from Canada, world silver medallist in Budapest with 20.08m, Auriol Dongmo from Portugal, world indoor gold medallist in Belgrade 2022 with 20.43m and European indoor champion with 19.76m in Istanbul 2023, Jessica Schilder from the Netherlands, European outdoor champion in Munich 2022, Danniel Thomas Dodd from Jamaica, world silver medallist in Doha 2019, Maggie Ewen, Diamond League winner in 2021 and sixth at the World Championships in Budapest.
Men’s 800 metres:
Double Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal will start as the favourite in the men’s 800 metres. The Kenyan athlete ran the second fastest time in the world this year with 1:44.22 at the Monaco Diamond League meeting, but he finished fourth at the Kenyan Trials in Nairobi and did not take part at the World Championships in Budapest.
The other top names are Ben Pattison, world bronze medallist in Budapest, Dhamel Sedjati, (world silver medallist in Eugene) Slimane Moula (fifth at the World Chmpionships in Eugene and Budapest), Benjamin Robert from France, fifth in Paris Charlety in 1:43.48 and third in Xiamen in 1:43.88,, Yanis Meziane, European under 23 champion in Espoo 2023, and Daniel Rowden from Greta Britain, fifth at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in his PB of 1:43.95.
Women’s 5000 metres:
World under 20 champion Medina Eisa from Ethiopia starts with the fastest time among the entrants with her world under 20 record of 14:16.54 set at London Diamond League in London. Eisa won the world under 20 silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst and sixth in the 5000 metres at the World Championships in Budapest.
The best Kenyan athletes in the field are Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, who clocked 14:23.05 in Paris, Grace Nawowuna, who set a PB of 29:47.42 in the 10000 metres in Hengelo.
Men’s 10000 metres:
Belgian distance runner Bashir Abdi is aiming to break the Belgian record held by Mohammed Mouhrit with 26:52.30 in 1999 at the Memorial Van Damme. Abdi could even attack the European record set by his friend and training partner Mo Farah since 2011 with 26:46.57: Abdi arrived in Brussels on Tuesday after a training camp in the French Pyrenees.
Bashir Abdi: “Everything went well. I managed to train hard there. I am looking forward to Friday. The Allianz Memorial Van Damme is a great celebration of athletics for the entire country. My last partcipipation was in the Covid year in 2020, when we had to run in an empty stadium. Mo Farah joined my training camp and paced me in training and I think he would be happy for me if I took his record”