27 Jamaicans converge on two-day London Diamond League

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, July 20, 2019

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With just 10 weeks before the IAAF World Championships in Doha, 27 Jamaicans will embark on the two-day London Diamond League, called the Muller Anniversary Games, today and tomorrow.

Champions Omar McLeod, Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will lead the reggae beat in London as they continue to fine-tune their preparation for the World Championships in September.

All eyes will be on the women's 100m hurdles as theytry to accumulate enough points to earn a spot on Jamaica's team following the farce at the National Championships in which the race was abandoned. The top three ranked hurdlers will be selected.

The meeting has attracted 20 reigning world and 10 reigning Olympic individual and relay champions to the iconic Olympic Stadium.

Fedrick Dacres, who holds a seven-point lead in the discus world ranking, will be aiming to maintain or increase that lead but will have his hands full in holding off world performance leader Daniel Stahl. The big Swede has a world best of 71.86m, while Dacres sits second with 70.78m. They are the only two throwers in the world who have broken the 70m mark.

Dacres, who threw 70.78m to win in Rabat a month ago, will on Sunday be trying to end Stahl's dominance in which he hunts his seventh-consecutive win and his ninth in 11 starts this year. Stahl produced a rare achievement, becoming just the third man to throw beyond 70 metres four times in one competition.

Also on Sunday, four-time Diamond Trophy winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the reigning Anniversary Games champion over 100m, along with Natasha Morrison and Jonelle Smith, will run in heats before the final, over an hour later.

Fraser-Pryce, who seems to be back to her brilliant best, has most to fear from home girl Dina Asher-Smith, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria and Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

Meanwhile, today, Elaine Thompson, the reigning 100m and 200m Olympic champion, will start heavy as the favourite to capture the 200m, a race that also involves Jamaicans Shashalee Forbes and Schillonie Calvert-Powell.

Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod and Ronald Levy are down for the men's sprint hurdles which includes Andrew Pozzi of Great Britain, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France and China's Wenjun Xie. McLeod has not won in his last three races but should set the record straight.

Jamaica's only hope in the sprints this year, Yohan Blake, will be severely tested once again in the men's 100m where he faces the likes of Great Britain's Zharnel Hughes, Andre deGrasse of Canada and Akini Simbine of South Africa. Jamaica's Tyquendo Tracey and Julian Forte will be competing also in the event that will have heats before the final.

The men's 400 will see Jamaica's Akeem Bloomfield, Nathon Allen and national champion Demish Gaye line up against the likes of Abderrahman of Qatar, who enters the race with the fastest time this season of 44.60 seconds. There is also Baboloki Thebe of Botswana with a season's best 45.09. Gaye is the quickest Jamaican this year with 44.83 and it will be interesting to see how both Bloomfield and Allen perform.

Following her mysterious run last time, eyes will be on Shericka Jackson in the 400m as she tries to stop Bahrain's Salwa Naser claiming her 13th-straight 400m win and eighth of the year. Jackson, who achieved her personal best of 49.78 seconds at the Jamaican Championships, turned in a clinker in Lausanne on July 5, clocking 52.35 seconds while trailing home in eighth place. That race was won by Naser in an impressive 49.17, just outside her personal best of 49.08.

Jamaica's Stephenie-Ann McPherson and Anastasia LeRoy are also in the race, along with the emerging Aminatou Seyni of Niger, who ran 49.19 and also defeated Naser last time out, and the 23-year-old will want to show that she is the real deal.

Natoya Goule will compete in the 800m, while Tiassan Hickling and Chanice Porter are down for the women's long jump, with Rasheed Dwyer competing in the men's 200m, as Rushell Clayton and Janieve Russell are in the women's 400m hurdles.


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