Diamond race begins ... SAFP, Weir, Spencer, the Jamaicans in action
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Jamaican sprinting superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce headlines today's IAAF Diamond League curtain-raiser in Doha, Qatar, as nine other Jamaicans look to make early impressions at the Qatar Sports Club.
Fresh off what was perhaps the most dominant season ever registered by a female sprinter, Fraser-Pryce, who in March capped last Summer's IAAF World Championships triple-gold-medal-winning performance with a shiny 60m gold at the World Indoors, will have to better a strong 100m field if she hopes to get her Diamond Race defence off to a positive start.
Fraser-Pryce, who won the 200m at last week's IAAF World Challenge Jamaica International Invitational (JIIM) with a time of 22.53, will line up in her first 100m of the season and will face four other finalists from Moscow last year, in compatriot Kerron Stewart, JIIM winner Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria and the American pair of English Gardner and Alexandria Anderson.
Carrie Russell bears the mantle of Jamaica's next top female sprinter, and she comes into the race with 11.19 already under her belt this season and with the hope of making an early statement on the circuit.
World Championships 200m silver medallist Warren Weir has been working hard all off season, well aware that he enters this Diamond League campaign with a bullseye on his back after taking the 200m title last season.
The wiry Jamaican will have his nemesis Nickel Ashmeade plus Rasheed Dwyer for company, but American Curtis Mitchell - bronze medal winner in Moscow - is likely to push the two big-name Jamaicans all the way.
Kaliese Spencer has an extra bounce in her step these days after winning her first individual medal - a 400m silver at the World Indoor Championships - in March. The multiple Diamond Race winner will be looking to reassert her dominance on the circuit, but must come strong against a top line-up that, in spite of Zuzana Hejnova's absence, still boasts Moscow medallist Dalilah Muhammad and Lashinda Demus.
With regular clashes featuring the top-three athletes in the event, the men's 400m is quickly becoming everybody's favourite race on the circuit, and with World champion LaShawn Merritt and bronze medallist Luguelin Santos looking to pick up where they left off in Jamaica last week, fans are in for another sub-45-second treat.
Jamaican Edino Steele has shown real improvement over the year, and must show that he can march with the big boys.
World Indoors bronze medallist Kimberly Williams will once again come against Caterine Ibarguen, the World champion, as well as bronze medallist Olha Saladuha in the triple jump.
World Champs finalist Damar Forbes is also set to compete in the long jump.
Schedule for Jamaicans
Men's Long Jump (9:25 a.m.)
Women's 400m hurdles (11:04 a.m.)
Men's 400m (11:26 a.m.)
Women's Triple Jump (11:30 a.m.)
Women's 100m (12:09 p.m.)
Men's 200m (12:36 p.m.)