Spotlight on 110m hurdles
Seven Jamaicans will be in action on today's first of 14 Diamond League meets in this the seventh year of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) track and field series.
Among the Jamaicans slated to face the starter when the 23-event meet gets under way at 9:41 a.m. (Ja time) in Doha, Qatar, are Hansle Parchment and Omar McLeod. The two are in a star-studded 110m hurdles field, which will also feature reigning Olympic champion Aries Merritt and his American compatriot David Oliver.
Twenty-two-year-old McLeod, fresh off his 60m hurdles World Indoors triumph and his sub-10 100m run, will be aiming to give an impressive showing on his first Diamond League outing.
"I am just trying to go out there and have fun and try to execute a good race. I just want to make a great debut to my Diamond League season," McLeod told The Gleaner.
World and Olympic medallist Parchment opened his season with a 13.42 stroll but believes the conditions in Qatar will see him clocking an improved time.
"The temperature is much better, so it is one thing to look forward to. I am feeling good so far, so I am just going to go out there to execute my best race possible on the day," Parchment said.
The country's most successful Diamond League athlete, 400m hurdler Kaliese Spencer, will renew her rivalry with two-time reigning World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic.
The Jamaican looked on course for a Diamond Trophy last year only for Hejnova to win the last four meetings and pip her to the prize.
Spencer, who is celebrating her 29th birthday today, won the 400m hurdles Diamond Race in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014. She has, however, since changed coaches, having left the Stephen Francis-led MVP to join Bert Cameron's Blazers.
Having opened her season with a modest 56.39, Spencer is hoping to gift herself a victory with a much improved time.
"It is my 29th birthday, so I want to come out with a victory. That would be something special," Spencer said. "It would be good to run a 54 (seconds) right now. It is a bit early. Anything faster, I would be grateful, but somewhere in that region."
TRIPLE JUMPER SHANIEKA THOMAS
The first Jamaican in action will, however, be triple jumper Shanieka Thomas, who comes in with the longest jump so far this season after her personal best effort of 14.57m in Kingston last month.
The 24-year-old can expect to face strong competition from two-time World Champion and Olympic silver medallist Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia.
The very competitive women's 100m field will feature two Jamaicans, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Simone Facey.
Campbell-Brown, who won the Diamond Trophy in the event in 2014, is looking forward to the competition.
"I am excited. My objective is just to go in the race and focus on what I have to do and run a good race," said Campbell-Brown.
The Jamaican duo will have for company Dafne Schippers, who took silver in the event at last year's World Championships; American Tori Bowie, who shares the world-leading time in the event, 11.00 seconds; with Facey also in the line-up.
Nickel Ashmeade will line up in lane eight when he goes against Qatar's Ogunode Femi in the men's 200m. The fastest man in the field so far this year will be American Ameer Web (19.91), and he will be joined by compatriots Walter Dix and Isiah Young.
This season's Diamond League will feature a new points structure, which sees the top six finishers in each event gaining points instead of just the top three.