Terrifying Thompson in Doha Diamond hunt
It's only early May, but Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson is already looking extremely scary - for her rivals at least - ahead of what's sure to be another medal-mining assault at this Summer's World Championships in London.
The double Olympic champion will shift her campaign into another gear when she lines up in the 200m at the circuit-opening Doha Diamond League meet at the Qatar Sports Club today after teasing track and field fans with impressive runs in the 60m, 100m, 4x100m, and 4x200m this year.
Interestingly, the 24-year-old and her coach, Stephen Francis, seem to be turning the knob on her endurance conditioning with the sprinter adding the 400m to her build-up this season.
Thompson dropped a wind-aided 10.75 seconds mark in her lone 100m, this after her blistering 6.98 indoor 60m run in February. She took that form to the World Relays, where she led Jamaica to first place in the 4x200m and walked by her American counterpart in the Penn Relays 4x100m; dropping jaws and raising eyebrows in what has been a promising start to her 2017 season.
And now, the 'Elaine Thompson Show' will make a stop in the West Asian state
She'll have company in Simone Facey and Veronica Campbell-Brown, but the real show will come in the form of her clash with world champion Dafne Schippers, in what will be the latest chapter of one of the sport's most exciting rivalries. Schippers has also looked good this season, with her 22.29 done in the middle of last month logged as the second-fastest time this year behind Tori Bowie's 22.09.
EYES ON MEN'S 100M
There will also be much interest in the men's 100m, where Asafa Powell will be chasing his 98th sub-10 seconds 100m race and a shot at old foe Justin Gatlin, who returns to the scene of his 9.74 season opener from two seasons ago.
The two veterans are, however, in for a tough day with youngsters AndrÈ De Grasse and Akani Simbine looking to further lift their reputations.
Powell clocked 10.18 at the Grenada Invitational, while Gatlin and De Grasse will be taking their first trip in the 100m this season. It will be interesting to see the interaction between Gatlin and the fearless De Grasse, who made a mockery of the American at the World Relays, looking across at him before passing him on the anchor leg of the 4x100m heat.
South African champion and record holder Akani Simbine is easily in the best shape among the top boys in this one with the South African season already well and truly under way. The Olympic finalist has already ran under 10 seconds on five occasions - three of those coming at altitude.
This has been the toughest start to a season since 2014 for Olympic finalist Annsert White, who will be looking to improve on his 50.38 and 51.71 times done at the UTech Classic and Drake Relays, when he lines up in the 400m hurdles, where American Kerron Clement and the world-leading hometown talent Abderrahaman Samba (48.31) are expected to do most of the running.
National champion Megan Simmonds has already registered a 12.83 clocking this year, which doesn't fall too far from her 12.79 personal best. She could be pushed to a fast time with the knowledge that world record holder Kendra Harrison will line up with her in the 100m hurdles.
Olympians Natoya Goule in the 800m and Aisha Praught in the 3000m steeplechase will complete the Jamaican line-up in Qatar.
The 2017 Diamond League has been restructured and will feature a structure which will see athletes earn points at the first 12 meetings to qualify for the two finals.
The winners of each discipline in the finals will be crowned as IAAF Diamond League champions, and will earn US$50,000 plus the Diamond Trophy.
The top-eight athletes will now be awarded points as opposed to the top-six under the previous structure.
- 10:15: Pole Vault Women
- 10:45: High Jump Men
- 11:03: 400m Men
- 11:05: Javelin Throw Men
- 11:35: 200m Women (Elaine Thompson, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Simone Facey)
- 11:45: Triple Jump Men
- 11:50: 100m Hurdles Women (Megan Simmonds)
- 12:05: 3000m Steeplechase Women (Aisha Praught)
- 12:25: 100m Men (Asafa Powell)
- 12:35: 400m Hurdles Men (Annsert White)
- 12:45: 3000m Men