Qatar’s Olympians and rising stars are set to compete among some of the best athletes in the world in the first meeting of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League season in Doha, set for Friday 5 May at Qatar Sports Club.
Led by Olympic silver medallist Mutaz Barshim, 13 Qatari athletes will compete, including fellow Olympians Ahmed Bedeer in the javelin and the fastest man in Asia, Femi Ogunode in the 100m.
Rohler and Yego head the javelin field
The javelin competition is set to be a thriller, with the 21-year-old Bedeer, Qatar’s young Olympian and Aspire Academy graduate, looking to continue his solid progress in the sport in a competition that features the Olympic gold and silver medallists, Thomas Röhler and current world champion Julius Yego.
Bedeer set a personal best of 84.74m to qualify for the Olympic Games and will be aiming to use the Doha Diamond League to gain further experience on his road to the IAAF World Championships London 2017 in August. Also joining Magour is Qatar’s Mohamed Kaida, who will also be competing in the IAAF Diamond League for the first time.
Germany’s Röhler, who narrowly missed the Olympic record in Rio after throwing 90.30m – just 0.27m shy of the record – will be the one to watch in Doha but he will no doubt face a strong challenge from Yego, Kenya’s 'Mr YouTube Man', who gained his nickname after learning to throw by watching YouTube videos. A total of six of the top-ten finishers from the 2016 Olympics will be competing in Doha, including last year’s Diamond Race winner Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic.
Barshim the centre of attention
Qatar’s two-time Olympic medallist Barshim is hoping to get the crowd on their feet as he returns to compete on home soil after a winter of focused training. Barshim jumped just two centimetres short of the 2.45m world record in 2014 and will no doubt have his sights firmly set on Javier Sotomayor’s 24-year-old world record in the 2017 season, as well as the World Championships gold medal in August. The Doha Diamond League will provide an opportunity to see his form coming out of winter training, as well as have some fun in front of the home crowd.
“For me, Doha is very challenging because it is just in May, and normally in May I’m still in hard preparation and training," said Barshim, who opened his season last weekend with 2.35m. "Doha for me is very important because according to how I perform, I will know what to do for the next couple of months, how to adjust, and how I feel.
“Competing at home makes it very special. It is such a great thing, a great atmosphere, especially in Doha and I’m really looking forward to my first competition, to get that feeling again, come out there in the stadium, and feel that pumping and do my best. I want to give the crowd a show, I want to give my country a show, my family and everybody else.”
Local rising stars throughout the programme
In the men’s 100m, two-time Asian champion Femi Ogunode will be joined by his younger brother Tosin Ogunode, who made his debut in the 2014 season and immediately made his mark by setting an Asian indoor record of 6.50, breaking a 20-year-old record set by fellow Qatari Talal Mansour. Older brother Femi, 25, who took the bronze medal at the World Indoor Championships in 2014, will be looking to start his 2017 season with a competitive time in a strong field of Olympic and world medallists.
The 400m hurdles event meanwhile will see Qatar’s up-and-coming track sensation Abdulrahman Samba, together with team-mate Mohamed Shaib, compete against some of the fastest athletes in the world. Samba cruised to victory at the Sasol-NWU International athletics meeting earlier in March in South Africa in 48.31, currently the fastest time in the world.
Samba improved nearly a full second from his 49.24 effort on March 11 in Pretoria, South Africa, and is closing in on the Qatari record of 48.17 set in 1988 by Mubarak Faraj Al-Nubi. This will be the first time Shaib, 19, competes in the IAAF Diamond League and brings with him a promising season’s best of 49.85, which he set earlier this year also in South Africa.
In the 400m, former Asian youth champion Mohamed Nasir Abbas, 21, will aim to build on his impressive senior record after snatching the gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the 2016 Asian Indoor Championship in Doha. Meanwhile the 1500m will see Qataris Hamza Driouch and Said Aden go up against world champions as they aim to get a leg-up at the start of this year’s season.
Qatar’s rising athlete Yaser Salem Bagharab will go up against stiff competition in the 3000m and will undoubtedly gain more experience after snagging the bronze medal at the 2016 Asian Junior Championships in Vietnam.
Completing the Qatari line up will be Mohamat Hamdi in high jump and Rashid Ahmed Al-Mannai in the triple jump event.
Organisers for the IAAF
2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar
5 May – Doha, QAT
13 May – Shanghai, CHN
27 May – Eugene, USA
8 Jun – Rome, ITA
15 Jun – Oslo, NOR
18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
1 Jul – Paris, FRA
6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
9 Jul – London, GBR
16 Jul – Rabat, MAR
21 Jul – Monaco, MON
20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
24 Aug – Zurich, SUI
1 Sep – Brussels, BEL