Doha Set to Ignite the 2019 IAAF Diamond League Season
A cast including six reigning world champions, eight reigning Olympic champions and winners of nine 2018 Diamond Trophies will take to the newly-refurbished Khalifa Stadium in the city's Aspire Zone district, which in less than five months time will host the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Of those expected to feature highly, South Africa’s Caster Semenya - the 1500m winner in Doha last year - is the most eagerly-anticipated on show.
The 28-year-old two-time Olympic and three-time world 800m champion has shown an impressive range already this year, with superb lifetime bests over 200m and 5,000m and tomorrow, she will defend the two-lap race she won here in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, respectively.
Elsewhere on the track, Hellen Obiri will contest the 3,000m event and the Kenyan is another in scintillating form, following her recent IAAF World cross country Championships victory.
Tomorrow will be the 29-year-old Kenyan’s debut track race of 2019 and the 2012 world indoor 3,000m champion and Olympic 5,000m silver medallist is favourite to add to her 2014 Doha win.
Caterine Ibarguen - the 2018 IAAF World female Athlete of the Year - takes to the long jump runway as the Olympic triple jump champion also opens her campaign for 2019.
The 35-year-old Columbian two-time world triple jump champion ended last summer as number four on the world rankings in her non-specialist event, and is expected to pick up where she left off in the long jump discipline.
The men’s shot put is growing in prestige in international athletics, courtesy in part to three men who will each compete on Friday.
Three-time world champion, Tom Walsh of New Zealand is joined by US duo, Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs in a mouth-watering duel.
Walsh - the 2018 world leader indoors and out - has competed six times already this season but he enters the Doha shot circle for the first time, as will Olympic champion, Crouser - who was the top global protagonist indoors this winter.
Together with 2015 world champion, Kovacs - who last participated here in 2015, the trio should ensure their event is one not to miss.
Back on track in the men’s 800m, Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir opens his season and will look to continue the dominance he showed last year on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, including victory in Doha but the 23-year-old will face 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Nijel Amos of Batswana and the USA’s Donavan Brazier.
World champion, Sam Kendricks is the main attraction in the pole vault and the 26-year-old American will be hoping his Doha debut can provide a springboard to further IAAF Diamond League success, following his five wins on the circuit in 2018.
Timothy Cheruiyot heads the 1500m field as the 23-year-old world silver medallist from Kenya looks to repeat his world number one ranking last summer.
Elsewhere on the track, Britain’s triple European sprint champion, Dina Asher-Smith opens her 2019 campaign and the 23-year-old should enjoy a successful first career outing in Doha.
Olympic 100m hurdles champion, Brianna McNeal is aiming to turn the tables on her 2018 runner-up position here, and the 27-year-old American’s season is already up and running, having contested four ‘flat’ races.
In the 200m, there will be Turkey’s world champion, Ramil Guliyev - the 28-year-old looks to improve on his third-place position here last year.
On the in-field, world silver medalist Daniel Stahl of Sweden is expected to dominate the discus throw competition. The 26-year-old ended 2018 as world number one and he opens his season tomorrow.
And Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Dallilah Muhammad has already been in 400m ‘flat’ form this season, so the 29-year-old American should be the one to watch there.