Hurdles showdown in Birmingham
Track and field fans are in store for something special this Sunday when the Diamond League series continues with the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham, with the women’s 100 metres hurdlers taking centre stage.
In what should be a mega clash, with the world’s best set to meet six weeks before the World Championships in Doha, Jamaica’s Danielle Williams, the world leader in the event with her smashing national senior record of 12.20 seconds, made several weeks ago in London, will want to send another strong message to the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) that she is the best in the world and should be selected for Doha.
The 2015 World champion, who has two Diamond League victories under her belt so far, is in the form of her life and will be hoping to extend that tremendous run on Sunday with another excellent performance.
The United States’ Kendra Harrison, despite being No. 3 in the IAAF ranking with her 12.43, second clocking done in Monaco, will want to show why she is the world record holder in the event. Like Williams, she has two Diamond League wins to her credit this season with successes in Stockholm and Monaco. She followed up with a big win at the United States National Championships, securing her third national title.
Harrison seems to enjoy running in Britain as two years ago, in Birmingham, she captured the World Indoor title. She will be aiming to continue her unbeaten run this season.
With the Diamond League finals set to run off before the World Championships, she will be hell-bent on getting another win over the Jamaican here and also in that final, which would serve a dual purposes for the American, who would also ensure that the Jamaican does not get into the World Championships via a wild-card entry route, considering her potential as the main threat to her World Championships golden bid.
While most of the attention will surround the clash between Williams and Harrison, the race should be a quality one overall as there are some other outstanding entrants in the field, many of whom possess the ability to relegate the top two to less favourable results.
The likes of the United States duo of Briana McNeil, Olympic champion, and two-time World Indoor champion Nia Ali, as well as Jamaica’s Janeek Brown, are all serious contenders for top honours.
Brown, who some weeks ago was the world leader in the event with 12.40 seconds, which now sees her sitting at No. 2 on the World List, could reproduce her impressive NCAA form after a few weeks’ rest and spoil the party.
From a Jamaican standpoint, it could be a re-run of the Jamaica National Senior Championships as besides Williams and Brown, the field will also include Megan Tapper, the Pan Am Games bronze medallist who comes into the event with a season best of 12.63 seconds; Yanique Thompson, who was fourth at the Pan Am Games and whose season best stands at 12.80 seconds; and Jeanine Williams, who has a season best of 12.72 seconds.
One certainty is that the executive body of the JAAA will surely be watching this race with keen interest as they do have a big decision to make going into Doha. The results here may very well play a big role in who makes the trip and who doesn’t.