El Bakkali, the reigning Wanda Diamond League champion (3000m SC), remained unbeaten throughout 2022 having opened his season with victory in Doha. Prior to winning the world title in Eugene, he clocked a world lead of 7:58.28 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rabat, only marginally outside his lifetime best of 7:58.15, set in 2018. He closed the year with a national record of 5:14.06 in the 2000m SC, a mark which moved him to third on the world all-time list.
In an incredible Doha line up, he will be joined by Ethiopia’s Olympic and world 3000m SC silver medallist Lamecha Girma, the world indoor 3000m record holder who clocked 7:23.81at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in February to improve a record that had stood for 25 years. He is also a world indoor silver medallist.
The pair, who are ranked 10th and 12th on the 3000m SC all-time list, have never gone head to head over a flat 3000m, but El Bakkali, who took world 3000m SC silver in London 2017 and bronze in Doha 2019, has defeated Girma on each of their last five battles over the barriers.
A talented group of athletes will join the indomitable duo including Selemon Barega (ETH), the Olympic 10,000m champion and world indoor 3000m champion; Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN), Olympic 1500m silver medallist and former world champion; Yomif Kejelcha (ETH), a two-time world indoor 3000m champion (2016 and 2018), former world 10,000m silver medallist and world mile indoor record holder; Oscar Chelimo (UGA), world 5000m bronze medallist; and Ishmael Kipkurui (KEN), the world cross country U20 champion.
“This is a big year for me as I prepare to defend my world title in Budapest and I want to get it off to a good start,” said El Bakkali. “I was under pressure to win in Eugene last summer and that pressure remains as I continue to set myself big goals. It takes hard work and sacrifice to be the best and know I still have more to give. By racing against such a strong field in this opening meeting of the Wanda Diamond League I will see how much work I still have to do.
“I feel privileged to have such great supporters in Qatar and it means a lot to me to open my season at the Doha Meeting where I know they will get behind me and push me on to great things.”
The 2023 Wanda Diamond League comprises 14 meetings in total*, starting with Doha at the Qatar Sports Club on 5 May and concluding with a single final across two days in Eugene (16-17 September). Each of the 13 series meetings will be broadcast globally in a live two-hour programme.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to support athletes and watch the world’s best athletes compete in Doha. Get your tickets now!
*In an update to the 2023 calendar, the Shanghai meeting scheduled for July will no longer take place.