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May 12, 2022

Doha Diamond League Preview: Athletes, Events and Storylines to Watch

Ever since I got hooked on Formula 1, I’ve always felt that we should treat the Diamond League meets with a bit more excitement as they’re track and field’s closest thing- offering high-quality races, hefty prize money, and (usually) full stadiums. The premier race circuit returns on Friday as it makes its first stop in Doha.

I dream of the day that track and field can sniff anything like the Miami Grand Prix’s ratings, which drew approximately 2.07 million viewers for its pre-race and race coverage on ABC and ESPN. Sadly, this meet won’t even be televised until a day later on CNBC at 10 a.m. (which is followed by an hour of monster trucks) so the only way to watch live on Friday will be to stream it at 12 p.m. ET on Peacock.  You can find the schedule, entries and live results for the Doha Diamond League here.

📺 If you’re reading this on Thursday morning, you also have time to set a reminder to tune into the Puerto Rico Athletics Classic, which is part of the American Track League, on ESPN2 and WatchESPN from 6 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET. Notable stars competing in the meet include Trayvon Bromell, Elaine Thompson-Herah, Athing Mu, Christian Taylor, Ryan Crouser, Sandi Morris and many more. You’ll have to download the Roster Athletics app in order to get the full schedule, entries and live results.

Here’s what to watch for at the Doha Diamond League:

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Undefeated In The Diamond League 400m Since 2015 | Women’s 400m  (12:04 p.m. ET)

After recording an episode of Track Snacks showing our appreciation for Bahamian sprints and Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s brilliance, I wanted to find out when’s the last time she lost a Diamond League 400m race. I had to go back to when New York City still had a Diamond League meet on the schedule. Her last 400m Diamond League loss was in June 2015 to Francena McCorory. However, it does require a bit of context: she did not run the 400m on the Diamond League circuit in 2021, 2020 (pandemic) or 2019. This will be her first Diamond League 400m race since winning the 2018 circuit title in Brussels in September 2018. She’ll get to see the Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino for the first time since she took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, so she won’t have an easy path to keeping the streak alive.

Will They Share Victory Again? | Men’s High Jump (12:15 p.m. ET)

One of the best moments of last year’s Tokyo Olympics was Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi sharing the Olympic gold medal in the men’s high jump. This will be their first head-to-head competition since that beautiful moment at the Games. The last time they were both in Doha, Barshim came away with the world championship gold medal and Tamberi finished eighth. That was the last time Barshim beat Tamberi outright. Over the course of their careers, Barshim has a significant lifetime edge of 14-5 in head-to-head competition. I’m also particularly excited to see how South Korea’s World Indoor champion Woo Sang-Hyeok does in his Diamond League debut. He currently has the world-leading mark of 2.30m.

What Shape Is Francine Niyonsaba In? | Women’s 3000m (12:17 p.m. ET)

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba is preparing for a two-mile world record attempt at the Prefontaine Classic (May 27) and we’ll get a clear idea of how close she’ll be when she runs the 3000m against 1500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon and steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech (who was third in this race back in 2020). Niyonsaba holds the fastest personal best in the field with an 8:19.08 from last August’s Paris Diamond League, which put her at No. 5 on the all-time list.

This is the first time Niyonsaba and Kipyegon are racing each other since running an 800m in Italy in 2015, where Niyonsaba ran 1:57.62 to just beat out Kipyegon’s 1:58.02.

The Rai Benjamin Revenge Tour Stops in Doha | Men’s 400m Hurdles (12:35 p.m. ET)

Olympic gold medalist Karsten Warholm has opted not to travel to the Prefontaine Classic in May to face off against his biggest competitors at least once before the World Championships. Warholm has decided to stay home and train, passing up an estimated $30K appearance fee. Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin hasn’t had any problem with travel. He went all the way back to Tokyo last weekend to race the 400m hurdles for the first time since his 46.17 silver medal (which would’ve been the world record had Warholm not run faster), clocking an easy 48.60 win in cool conditions. In Doha, Benjamin will race against Brazil’s Olympic bronze medalist Alison Brendom dos Santos (46.72 PB) and Kyron McMaster (47.08). It’s a good taste of international competition before the Pre Classic and World Championships.

Donavan Brazier Opens Up | Men’s 800m (12:49 p.m.)

Reigning world champion Donavan Brazier will run his first 800m race since his injury-plagued U.S. Olympic Trials final. He spent last fall getting healthy and then put together a solid indoor campaign where he ran a personal best of 46.14 for the 400m, qualifying for the World Indoor Championships individually but opting to only compete in the 4x400m relay (he ran in the first round of the relay but the U.S. did not advance to the final). We know how dangerous he is when healthy and with resharpened speed, we’ll get our first look at what could lie ahead this summer. Luckily, he has the bye for Worlds due to his win in 2019 so he has a bit more time to get his legs back under him. He’ll be challenged by Olympic silver medalist Ferguson Rotich (1:42.54 PB).

Fred Kerley Faces The 200m Olympic Gold, Bronze Medalists | Men’s 200m (1:12 p.m. ET)

The United States currently owns eight of the top 10 fastest 200m performances of the year, led by 18-year-old phenom Erriyon Knighton and his world-leading 19.49. Fred Kerley is the next fastest man with his 19.80 win at the USATF Golden Games on April 16. He’s in this race and gets his first look at Andre De Grasse and Noah Lyles in their specialty event for the first time in 2022. Kerley focused his attention on the 100m last year through the Olympics and then managed to string off some solid races in the Diamond League meets in Lausanne (19.77 wind-aided), Paris (19.79 wind-legal), and Zurich (19.83 wind-legal).

Kerley has never beaten DeGrasse or Lyles over 200m. Lyles is 5–1 against De Grasse at 200m, but unfortunately for him the sole loss came at the Tokyo Olympics. Lyles spent the indoor season and his first few races outdoors honing his start in shorter sprints, and it will be interesting to see how that work translates to his specialty event. All three men will meet again for the 100m at the Prefontaine Classic.

Does Timothy Cheruiyot Reign Supreme In His Opener? | 1:23 p.m. ET

Olympic silver medalist and 2021 Diamond League 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot will race for the first time since last September when he hits the track on Friday. No need to worry: he is no stranger to opening up fast. In three previous appearances in Doha, he’s run 3:30, 3:32, and 3:32. Australia’s Stewart McSweyn, who ran 3:31.57 in that race, is back for a rematch. Cheruiyot will also face stiff competition from his compatriots Kamar Etiyang, the 19-year-old who beat him at the Kenyan Trials last year, and Abel Kipsang, the Olympic fourth-place finisher who just ran a world-leading ​​3:31.01 at altitude in Nairobi last weekend.

Quick hits for the other Doha Diamond League events:

– The men’s pole vault features Olympic gold medalist Mondo Duplantis and silver medalist Chris Nilsen, who is the current world leader with a 6.00m clearance last weekend in South Dakota. Duplantis holds a lifetime 17-3 record against Nilson head-to-head. (11:10 a.m. ET)

– Olympic silver medalist Raven Saunders headlines the women’s shot put in her first major competition since switching coaches to work under Ashley Kovacs in Nashville. (11:25 a.m. ET)

– Olympic silver medalist Keni Harrison and Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper will face off in the women’s 100m hurdles. Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn will instead compete on home soil in Ponce at the American Track League Ponce Meet on Thursday. (1:02 p.m. ET)

– Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas leads the women’s 200m field. She is third on the world list right now with her 22.02 win from the USATF Golden Games last month.  (1:36 p.m. ET)

– The men’s steeplechase is basically a re-run of the Tokyo final, as the 1st through 5th placers are all racing. This race will almost certainly see the fastest times of 2022 to date, as the world lead is only 8:16.21 right now held by Avinash Sable of India.  (1:47 p.m. ET)

🙏 Thanks again for reading and sharing. Follow me on Twitter: @chrischavez and Instagram: @chris_j_chavez. Tell your friends to sign up for the newsletter to stay in the know on what and how to watch the best track and field action.

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