Conseslus Kipruto in the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
Preview Brussels, Belgium

Final 16 IAAF Diamond League champions to be crowned in Brussels – IAAF Diamond League

The final 16 IAAF Diamond League champions of the season will be revealed at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Friday (September 1) at the Van Damme Memorial, the second of the two 2017 IAAF Diamond League finals.

The championship-style format adopted this season has seen the first 12 Diamond League meetings of the season being employed as qualifiers for the finals, but with no points being carried over.

That means every athlete arrives at their respective finals with an equal opportunity of winning the overall Diamond Trophy in their event and its accompanying US$50,000 winner’s cheque – something which produced several unexpected results at the first of the two finales in Zurich a week ago.

Women’s long jump final offers compelling London rerun

The gold, silver and bronze medallists in the women’s world long jump final – respectively Brittney Reese of the United States, Darya Klishina, US-based and competing under a neutral banner, and Reese’s compatriot Tianna Bartoletta, the Olympic champion, are present in Brussels, as is the Serbian Olympic bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic, who is convinced she would have had world gold had the number on her back not marked the sand as she produced a huge final effort in London.

So who’s going to win? Well it could be Reese. Or Klishina. Or Bartoletta. But Spanovic has the most the prove. A must-watch event.

Ryan Crouser, the US Olympic shot put champion, has never thrown better than he has this season. He leads the 2017 world list with a personal best of 22.65m, but his unbeaten run came to an end in London as he finished out of the medals on a day when Tom Walsh of New Zealand narrowly beat Crouser’s US rival Joe Kovacs, who has thrown a personal best of 22.57 this year, to the gold.

Can Crouser recover his form to end 2017 on a relative high? The question will be answered sooner rather than later, as the shot putters will compete in Brussels’ Place de la Monnaie on the eve of the main Memorial Van Damme meeting.

Thompson seeking to end season on a high in 100m

In the absence of the world champion, Tori Bowie, the Cote d’Ivoire’s world 100 and 200 silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou would appear to have the opportunity to bring her hugely creditable season to a winning conclusion in the women’s 100m.

But while Jamaica’s Olympic champion Elaine Thompson could only manage fifth place in London, her performance in taking second place in the Zurich Diamond League 200m final behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo in a time of 22.00 suggests that she is coming back into form.

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who won gold in a women’s world 1500m final in London that was one of the most dramatic and tumultuous championship races of recent years, looks favourite to finish the season on another high.

But while Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands finished outside the medals in London, she is fastest in the world this year at 3:56.14 and is a potent force in one-off races. Also present is the US 2011 world champion who forced her way through to an extraordinary silver in London, Jenny Simpson – never to be discounted.

Can Stevens push on to challenge Perkovic?

Sandra Perkovic, Croatia’s 2012 and 2016 Olympic discus champion, has dominated the Diamond League season in pursuit of her sixth consecutive title - and she rose once again to the challenge of the big occasion as she retained her world title in London with 70.31m.

But it will be interesting to see if Australia’s Dani Stevens, surprise winner of the 2009 world title under her maiden name of Samuels, can continue to improve as she did in London, where she set an Area record of 69.64m to claim silver.

The dynamics are similar in the women’s pole vault, where Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi has maintained her command in the event by adding the world title in London with a personal best of 4.91m.

Stefanidi cannot afford to relax, however, in the presence of the vaulter who last season became only the second woman to achieve a 5.00m vault other than Russia’s retired world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva – Sandi Morris. The US athlete has a best of 4.84m this season. Watch out too for Britain’s Holly Bradshaw, who set a personal best of 4.81m this year and looks a potential podium contender – if she has one of her good days.

Lasitskene is strongest favourite for Diamond Trophy

But no athlete, male or female, has dominated their event so completely this season as Mariya Lasitskene, who has been unbeatable in a year in which she has won all six qualifying Diamond League meetings and retained her world title, operating consistently in 2.00m territory and raised her personal best to 2.06m – just three centimetres shy of the world record.

For this athlete currently competing under a neutral banner not to win her second Diamond Trophy would be arguably the biggest shock of the season. If anyone were to upset the odds, it would probably be Ukraine’s world silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko, who took gold in London with a personal best of 2.01m.

London 2012 silver medallist Nijel Amos arrived at this month’s World Championships as many people’s favourite to win the 800m, but the wheels fell off for him in the final. In Brussels he has a chance to put a winning spin on his season, however, in the absence of France’s surprise London gold medallist Pierre Ambroise Bosse. That said, Poland’s redoubtable double world silver medallist Adam Kszczot is in the field.

Can Lyles regain Shanghai form in 200m?

Nineteen-year-old US sprinter Noah Lyles looked like being one of 2017’s big things when he won the Shanghai Diamond League 200m in 19.90, then the fastest time of the year.

But Lyles failed to qualify for the IAAF World Championships, where Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev earned a surprise victory over a weary Wayde Van Niekerk. Guliyev will be looking for another winning flourish, and Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, who anchored Britain to gold in the world 4x100m also looks a serious contender. Can Lyles rediscover his early season form?

Kenya’s Olympic and world champion Conseslus Kipruto looks the main man in the 3000m steeplechase, having proved in London that the ankle injury that had hindered his preparations was not a big problem.

But if there is any lingering weakness in his approach his perennial Kenyan rival Jairus Birech, Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali and the US world bronze medallist Evan Jager will be ready to take advantage.

Taylor and Pichardo square off again in the triple jump

Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor has once again defended his position as the world’s leading triple jumper this year, setting a Diamond League record of 18.11m in Eugene and then retaining his world title under challenge from compatriot Will Claye, who took Olympic silver behind his gold in 2012 and 2016.

But the presence in the field of Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo, who recorded a best of 18.08m as he and Taylor sported in 18 metres-plus territory two years ago offers the possibility of a dramatic late twist. Pichardo has jumped 17.60m this season. Is he in shape for a final flourish closer to 18 metres?

Sweden’s Daniel Stahl heads this year’s world lists in the men’s discus with a personal best of 71.29m, but he had to settle for silver in London behind an inspired Andrius Gudzius of Lithuania, who produced a personal best of 69.21m when it was most needed.

This is a wide open final, however, given the additional presence of Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres, who set a personal best of 68.88m this season, and Germany’s Harting brothers, Robert and Christoph, respective Olympic champions in 2012 and 2016.

Miller-Uibo’s chance to claim 400m reward from 2017

Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas looked set to add the world 400m title to her collection earlier this month, but a stumble 20 metres from the line saw her drop out of the medals.

Miller-Uibo reminded the world of her class as an athlete at the opening Diamond League final in Zurich as she won the 200m title against a field that included Jamaica’s Olympic champion Elaine Thompson.

So she will be the favourite here, with Natasha Hastings of the United States and Bahrain’s prodigious 19-year-old Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain, winner at this month’s Birmingham Diamond League, her most likely rivals.

Dalilah Muhammad of the United States, the Olympic 400m hurdles champion and world silver medallist, is the clear favourite in her specialty, but she will not be able to relax given the presence of the Czech Republic’s 2013 and 2015 world champion Zuzana Hejnova and her talented US colleague Ashley Spencer.

Obiri clear 5000m favourite

Kenya’s world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri is the clear favourite in the field, although Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa and Letesenbet Gidey will be seeking to undermine her.

In the absence of the 110m hurdles world champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica, the London silver medallist and 2015 world champion Sergey Shubenkov, back on the circuit this season as a neutral, has the chance to earn another tangible reward from 2017.

But that will not be easy given the presence of Spain’s Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega, and the renascent world record holder Aries Merritt of the United States, now fully recovered from the kidney transplant he had shortly after the 2015 World Championships, who is seeking his first Diamond League trophy since 2012.

US$ 1.6 million on the line

US$ 100,000 will be at stake in each of the 16 Diamond Trophy disciplines in both Zurich and Brussels for a total combined prize purse of $3.2 million, with $50,000, along with the Diamond Trophy, going to each winner. Prize money will be paid as follows:
 
1st – US$ 50,000
2nd – US$ 20,000
3rd – US$ 10,000
4th – US$ 6000
5th – US$ 5000
6th – US$ 4000
7th – US$ 3000
8th – US$ 2000
 

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF

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