Diamond League series moves to Italy on Friday and British track and field stars will be there in force
Laura Muir and Jazmin Sawyers open their summer season at the Wanda Diamond League in Florence on Friday (June 2), while Dina Asher-Smith is also in action in the Italian city.
For Muir and Sawyers it is their first competition since winning European indoor titles at 1500m and long jump respectively in Istanbul in March. Since then Muir has also undergone a split with her long-time coach, Andy Young.
Muir faces world and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya plus Ireland’s Ciara Mageean and in-form Diribe Welteji of Ethiopia in the women’s metric mile.
A stacked women’s long jump line-up sees Sawyers up against Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, host nation hope Larissa Iappichino, Ese Brume of Nigeria, Tara Davis-Woodhall of the United States and Ivana Vuleta of Serbia among others.
Asher-Smith and fellow Brit Imani Lansiquot, meanwhile, are in a 100m field that includes Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, European champion Gina Lückenkemper of Germany and Abby Steiner of the United States. For Asher-Smith it follows a 200m season opening victory in Savona followed by third place in the Doha Diamond League 100m in 10.98 at the start of May.
With the Stadio Olympico in Rome being upgraded ahead of the 2024 European Championships, the action on Friday will unfold at the Luigi Ridolfi Stadium in Florence. The much-anticipated head-to-head between world 100m champion Fred Kerley and Olympic gold medallist Marcell Jacobs will not happen, though, after the Italian withdrew on Tuesday citing the same sacral nerve issue that kept him out of the Diamond League in Rabat.
Kerley, of the United States, won the 100m in Rabat in 9.94, whereas Jacobs has come under the spotlight off the track after it emerged his former nutritionist Giacomo Spazzini was given a 15-year doping ban, only to have it rescinded when anti-doping authorities decided he was not under the jurisdiction of WADA rules.
Also in the 100m line-up on Friday are Trayvon Bromell, Ferdinand Omanyala, Akani Simbine and Samuele Ceccarelli, an Italian who made big improvements to beat Jacobs to the European indoor 60m title in Istanbul in March.
Femke Bol leads a women’s 400m hurdles line-up that includes US talent Shamier Little and, intriguingly, last weekend’s Götzis heptathlon winner Anna Hall. It will be interesting to see how the latter goes as her best is 54.48 from 2022 and she has run 12.75 for 100m hurdles and 51.03 indoors for 400m.
Distance running fans will want to tune in as well as the men’s 5000m features 14 men who have broken 13 minutes. The first time that barrier was breached incidentally was when Said Aouita did it at this very meeting in Rome in 1987. This time the main contenders are Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, Selemon Barega, Berihu Aregawi and Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia, Mo Katir of Spain and Grant Fisher of the United States.
The women’s steeplechase also has a strong line-up with Winfred Mutile Yavi, Sembo Alemayehu and world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech.
Elsewhere, Erriyon Knighton headlines the men’s 200m, Grant Holloway and Devon Allen are in the men’s 110m hurdles, Valarie Allman is in the women’s discus, while Katie Moon and Sandi Morris are in the women’s pole vault.
For UK viewers the event is broadcast on BBC Three from 7-9pm on Friday.
Up-to-date start lists here.
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