Orlando Ortega wins the 110m hurdles at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
Preview Madrid, Spain

Wlodarczyk and top Spaniards the headliners in Madrid 

A strong mix of local and international stars are set to highlight The Meeting Madrid 2018, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, in the Spanish capital on Friday (22).

Wlodarczyk eyeing first 80m throw of the season

Twice Olympic and three-time world champion Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland arrives on the heels of a season’s best of 76.43m in Ostrava last week, although the 32-year-old world record holder won't arrive as the world leader. That mark of 77.78m, set by Gwen Berry, arguably is within her reach in Madrid. Hanna Malyshik of Belarus has reached 76.26m this season for a PB but it’s not likely she'll threaten Wlodarczyk given the remarkable consistency of the Polish ace. 

 

Anita Wlodarczyk registers another victory in Ostrava (Bob Ramsak)Anita Wlodarczyk registers another victory in Ostrava (Bob Ramsak) © Copyright

 

The women’s 1500m features Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who clocked a massive career best of 3:57.64 in Stockholm on 10 June and was also victorious in Ostrava three days later. The 21-year-old world indoor bronze medallist will kick off as the hot favourite but the entry list also includes Australia’s Linden Hall, who just missed the medals at the Commonwealth Games this year and boasts a recent PB of 4:00.86 set in Eugene on 26 May. Sweden’s European 5000m champion Meraf Bahta (SB of 4:02.31) should be in the hunt for the top places as well.

In the Long Jump Canada’s Christabel Nettey will try to improve on her season’s best of 6.92m which puts her second on this year's world list just ahead of Great Britain's Shara Proctor, the 2015 world silver medallist. Author of a 6.89m season's best in Gold Coast where she captured Commonwealth silver, the 29-year-old Briton should be a factor on Friday alongside France’s former European champion Eloyse Lesueur, who's jumped 6.80m this outdoor campaign.

Sub-10 a prospect

The men’s 100m will be held over the backstraight to take advantage of the usual tailwind which blows there. The cast includes South Africa’s Akani Simbine, a creditable fifth at the Rio Olympics and the London worlds and Italy’s emerging talent Filippo Tortu. They have both recorded 10.03 this season and their fight for the win might well lead to a sub-10 clocking. Watch out too for China’s current world indoor 60m silver medallist Bingtian Su, who came runner-up in Shanghai in 10.05.

 

Akani Simbine wins Commonwealth 100m gold (Getty Images)Akani Simbine wins Commonwealth 100m gold (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

The 400m will be an interesting event as the line-up offers a thrilling battle between 2012 Olympic silver medallist Lugelin Santos (SB of 44.75) of the Dominican Republic and Botswana’s Commonwealth silver medallist Baboloki Thebe (SB 45.09). Yet, they will take on no less than four in-form Spaniards in the guise of Lucas Bua (recent PB of 45.25), European 200m champion Bruno Hortelano who's clocked 45.67 this season, Samuel García (45.61) and Óscar Husillos (46.04).

Ordoñez and Ortega to delight the home crowd

Spanish fans will cheer on Saúl Ordóñez in the 800m as the reigning world indoor bronze medallist should be regarded the favourite given the stellar form he showed a fortnight ago in Huelva where he managed a massive career best of 1:44:44 beating among others world champion Pierre Andre Bosse. The French star was also defeated on that occasion by another Spaniard, Álvaro de Arriba (runner-up in a PB of 1:44.99) the European indoor silver medallist. Sweden’s Andreas Kramer (SB of 1:45.38), Britain’s European bronze medallist Elliot Giles (1:45:84) and Morocco’s Mostafa Smaili (1:45.76) should also be in the fight for the victory.

Bringing a 13.17 season's best to the line, Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega is the man to beat in the 110m hurdles as he chases a world lead on home soil. His toughest opponent on paper is Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment, a silver medallist (13.22) from the recent Commonwealth Games.

Lysenko and Kirt looking to add to their momentum

On the infield, the standout event is the men's high jump led by world indoor champion Danil Lysenko. The 21-year-old is in superb form as he proved in Ostrava last week with a 2.36 clearance to move to second on this year’s world list. He will face another promising jumper, Australia’s Brandon Starc, the surprise victor at the Commonwealth Games last April thanks to a 2.32m clearance for a new PB.

 

Magnus Kirt after his surprise victory in Turku (Hasse Sjogren)Magnus Kirt after his surprise victory in Turku (Hasse Sjogren) © Copyright

 

The triple jump is a marquee contest too thanks to the presence of Portugal’s Nelson Evora, Azerbaijan’s Alexis Copello and Almir Dos Santos of Brazil. The latter grabbed silver at the world indoors in Birmingham earlier this year and produced a PB of 17.53m on 12 May. Meanwhile, the Guadalajara, Spain-based Evora who had to settle for bronze in Birmingham, will be aiming to improve on his season’s best of 17.04m. Copello, 32, last competed in Eugene on 26 May where he produced a fine 17.24 SB.

Estonian javelin thrower Magnus Kirt is enjoying some strong momentum after a pair of recent national records, reaching 88.45m and 88.73m on 3 and 5 June respectively, and could provide one of the evening’s highlights. His closest rivals should be Latvia’s Rolands Strobinders (83.34m) and Marcin Krukowski (83.34m).

Weather forecasters are predicting a hot evening with temperatures reaching 36 C at the start of the event.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF