Organisers of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea have revealed the headline acts for the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on 5 June. It includes numerous global champions, three of whom will feature in the men’s high jump.
With all five athletes who have cleared 2.40m over the past 12 months, the men’s high jump in Rome will be one of the most eagerly awaited athletics clashes of the season.
Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, who opened his season with a world-leading 2.41m victory at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, will take on world champion Bohdan Bondarenko, world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, Commonwealth record-holder Derek Drouin and 2011 world silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik.
It is the first time since 1992 that five athletes with PBs of 2.40m or higher will be on the same high jump start list. Other athletes in the field include Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard, 2008 Olympic champion Andrey Silnov, world indoor bronze medallist Andriy Protsenko, European under-23 silver medallist Daniil Tsyplakov and Italian record-holder Marco Fassinotti.
Hopes are high that the Italian capital will witness its third world high jump record. The Stadio Olimpico in Rome was the venue of the 1974 European Championships, where Rosemarie Ackermann set a world record of 1.95m. 13 years later at the IAAF World Championships in the same stadium, Stefka Kostadinova set a world record of 2.09m that still stands today.
IAAF world athlete of the year Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will be looking for her first 100m victory in Rome after finishing second in 2009 and 2012, but she will be up against double world silver medallist Murielle Ahoure, the woman who beat her in Rome two years ago.
For the first time ever in an IAAF Diamond League meeting, world champion Brianna Rollins will race against Olympic champion Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles. 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson is also in the field.
In the men’s 100m, world silver medallist Justin Gatlin and world bronze medallist Nesta Carter will face world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty.
Having got his IAAF Diamond League campaign underway in Doha with a world-leading 3:29.18, Asbel Kiprop leads the entries for the metric mile in Rome. He will face world indoor 3000m champion Caleb Ndiku, 2011 world silver medallist Silas Kiplagat, world indoor 1500m champion Ayanleh Souleiman and Ethiopian record-holder Aman Wote.
World indoor 3000m champion Genzebe Dibaba was one of the revelations of the 2014 indoor season. After finishing third over 1500m in Rome in 2012 and second one year later, the Ethiopian hopes to continue that progression with a victory this year as she moves up to the 5000m. She will be up against Mercy Cherono and Almaz Ayana, the world silver and bronze medallist respectively.
Following their exciting clash in Doha, world champion Mohammed Aman and Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos will continue their rivalry in the 800m in Rome.
Over one lap of the track, world champion LaShawn Merritt will face Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos and world indoor champion Pavel Maslak.
The heavyweights of the discus world will also clash as three-time world champion Robert Harting faces Piotr Malachowski, the man who last year ended Harting’s two-and-a-half-year winning streak.
Two-time Olympic champion and three-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi will once again face old foe Brimin Kipruto, the 2008 Olympic champion. Paul Kipsiele Koech, who holds the Golden Gala meeting record with 7:54.31, the third-fastest performance in history, is also in the field.
World champion and 2013 Diamond Race winner Eunice Sum will be the favourite in the 800m, where she will face world indoor champion Chanelle Price and 2009 world champion Caster Semenya.
Both triple jump fields contain three global champions. Olympic champion Christian Taylor will be up against 2012 world indoor champion Will Claye and reigning world indoor champion Lyukman Adams in the men’s event, while the women’s field includes 2011 world champion Olga Saladukha, world champion Caterine Ibarguen and world indoor champion Ekaterina Koneva.
Having missed most of the 2013 season after giving birth, two-time Olympic champion and world record-holder Barbora Spotakova will face African record-holder Sunette Viljoen and world leader Kim Mickle in the javelin.
In the shot, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams will be looking to keep her winning streak alive when she faces the woman who finished second to her at the past two global championships, Christina Schwanitz.
Jon Mulkeen and organisers for the IAAF
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