Three Olympic champions and two world champions are among the latest international stars to be added to the glittering fields for the 2014 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on 18 May, organisers confirmed on Tuesday (29).
US hurdler Aries Merritt, multi-medalled sprinter Allyson Felix and Trinidad and Tobago's javelin thrower Keshorn Walcott have joined the entry lists for the second meeting on the 2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar, while Russian high jumper Svetlana Shkolina and Czech javelin star Vítezslav Vesely are the latest Moscow 2013 winners to be announced for the 10th anniversary of China’s leading international athletics meeting.
Merritt returns to Shanghai for the third year in succession to renew his rivalry with world 110m hurdles champion David Oliver. The latter was fourth in this meeting last year when Merritt pulled up at the second hurdle with a hamstring injury.
After having also finished fourth here in 2012, Merritt will be keen to make it third time lucky this year when he and Oliver face their US compatriot Ryan Wilson, the Moscow 2013 silver medallist, and Russia’s reigning European champion and Moscow bronze medallist Sergey Shubenkov.
Merritt dominated his event in 2012, taking the Olympic title, dipping under 13 seconds on 10 occasions lowering the world record to 12.80. But he struggled to find his form after his injury last summer and could only finish sixth in the World Championships final.
Felix is also aiming to get back on track in 2014 after she crashed out of the 2013 World Championships 200m final with a hamstring injury last August.
The US sprinter won three Olympic golds in London to go with her eight world outdoor titles.
She won the Diamond Race for 200m and 400m in 2010, but triumphed at only one Diamond League meeting in 2013.
The 28-year-old will be keen to make a winning start to her 2014 campaign on what will be her Shanghai debut when she races over 400m in an enticing head-to-head against Botswana’s 2011 world champion, and 2013 silver medallist, Amantle Montsho.
The 30-year-old Montsho is also looking for her first Shanghai victory after she was second behind Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills two years ago, her only previous appearance at the meeting.
Walcott v Vesely v Pitkamaki in the men's javelin
Walcott is another athlete hoping to bounce back after a relatively disappointing campaign in 2013.
The 21-year-old made history in 2012 when the then junior shocked the favourites to claim Olympic gold.
It was the climax of a remarkable season for the teenager, who had also won at the World Junior Championships the previous month. His winning throw in London was his fifth national record of the season, and the seventh time he had set an area junior record in 2012.
His first full season on the senior circuit was less meteoric, however, as Walcott failed to improve on his best in 2013 for the first time in four years and did not qualify for the World Championships final.
Vesely won that competition in Moscow ahead of Finland’s 2007 world champion Tero Pitkamaki and Russia’s Dmitriy Tarabin, and all three will again be among Walcott’s opponents in Shanghai.
Twelve months ago it was Pitkamaki who took the honours here with 87.60m, with Vesely second just under a metre behind, and both bettered the old meeting record. Tarabin was third while Walcott languished in sixth place on his Diamond League debut.
Shkolina emerged as the dominant force in women’s high jumping last year with an unbeaten record in seven meetings.
She collected the World Championships gold medal on home soil in Moscow when she equalled her personal best of 2.03m.
Among Shkolina’s opponents on 18 May will be Spain’s reigning European champion, indoors and out, Ruth Beitia, who will compete in Shanghai for the first time.
Organisers for the IAAF
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2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep