Almaz Ayana (Gladys Chai) © Copyright
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Diamond Race update ahead of Stockholm – IAAF Diamond League

With the 2016 IAAF Diamond League at its halfway point, the race for a prestigious Diamond Trophy is in full flow in every discipline. Nearly all of the 32 Diamond Races look set to go down to the wire.

In only a handful of disciplines has one athlete so far emerged as a clear leader and there is up to 50 points still up for grabs during the remainder of the season, depending on the discipline.

Several of the current Diamond Race leaders are athletes who have never won a Diamond Race.

Ivana Spanovic has overcome tough competition in both Shanghai and Oslo to take a lead of 12 points in the women's long jump.

Almaz Ayana burst on to the scene last season, but was beaten to the Diamond Trophy by Genezbe Dibaba. This year she is back with a bang, and is already 12 points ahead in the women's 5000m, the distance at which she came close to setting a world record in Rome.

In the men's 5000m, Muktar Edris got off to a flyer with wins in Shanghai and Eugene, and extended his lead with a second-place finish in Oslo, while in the women's 1500m, Faith Kipyegon has raced away to a 20-point lead with victories in all three contests so far.

Two out in front

Conseslus Kipruto is the only other athlete with a 20-point lead in any discipline, having won all four men's 3000m steeplechase races. The Kenyan is looking to regain the Diamond Race title he has had to concede to his Kenyan compatriot Jairus Birech in the past two years. Birech, though, has been finishing second consistently and will feel his title defence is not yet over.

The women's 300m steeplechase has also been characterised by a hard-fought duel. Hyvin Kiyeng and Ruth Jebet were neck-and-neck before Kiyeng's victory in Oslo last week gave her a 10-point lead.

Perhaps the most exciting two-horse race has come in the men's 110m hurdles. World indoor champion Omar McLeod won the opening two rounds in Doha and Shanghai but Orlando Ortega, who only just missed out on the Diamond Trophy last season, won in Rome and is level on 20 points.

Some athletes, meanwhile, have always shone in the Diamond Race.

Three-time Diamond Race winners Caterine Ibarguen, Justin Gatlin and Piotr Malachowski already have comfortable leads, though Ibargüen will have one eye on Olga Rypakova, who brought an end the Colombian's incredible 34-competition winning streak, which stretched back to 2012, in Birmingham.

Four-time winner Sandra Perkovic is once again dominating the women's discus, while 2014 winners Thomas Rohler and Michael Tinsley lead in the men's javelin and 400m hurdles respectively in their bid to regain their Diamond Race titles.

Lavillenie on top again

The greatest IAAF Diamond League exponent of them all, though, is Renaud Lavillenie.

Despite defeat in the opening meeting of 2016 in Doha, Lavillenie has rallied to take a 10-point lead as he fights for a seventh consecutive Diamond Trophy.

Other Diamond Race stars have had a tougher time of it this season.

Four-time winner Christian Taylor is just three points ahead in the men's triple jump while Valerie Adams only has a four-point lead in the women's shot as she too aims for a fifth Diamond Trophy.

Diamond Trophy holder Eunice Sum has struggled to defend her title as Caster Semenya dominates the women's 800m, while the likes of David Rudisha and Nijel Amos are conspicuous by their absence at the top of the men's standings, currently led by Ferguson Cheruiyot.

In the rest of the Diamond Races, the pendulum has swung back and forth relentlessly.

Brianna Rollins and Dafne Schippers sneaked into top spot in the women's 100m hurdles and 200m respectively with their victories in Oslo, while Shaunae Miller leads the 400m only by one point after Stephenie-Ann McPherson's win in the Norwegian capital.

LaShawn Merritt and Erik Kynard both won their opening competitions in Doha, but both the Americans have since seen their leads dwindle as the talented fields in the men's 400m and high jump close the gap.

IAAF Diamond League for the IAAF

2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL