Photo Credit: diamondleague.com
As Africa prepares to host its very first IAAF Diamond League meeting this Sunday, here's some essential Diamond Race knowledge for you ahead of Rabat.
1. Valerie to return to the top?
Valerie Adams had won four Diamond Trophies in a row before the beginning of last season. New Zealand's favourite athlete had dominated the women's shot put like few other stars had dominated their disciplines before. Injury saw her miss most of last season, however, and Christina Schwanitz rampaged to victory in the 2015 Diamond Race. With both Schwanitz and Adams absent in Doha, it is Tia Brooks who leads the Diamond Race this season, with the field more open than it has been for years. Adams launches her campaign for a fifth title in Rabat, and can catch Brooks if she takes victory and a ten point haul.
Diamond Race winner in 2013 and 2014, LaShawn Merritt played third fiddle at best last season, as Wyde van Niekerk and Kirani James battled it out for the Diamond Trophy. Merritt was back with a bang in Doha this month, however, and leads the men's 400m Diamond Race ahead of Rabat. With both van Niekerk and James missing, it is a good chance for Merritt to double his points tally, though the likes of 2012 Diamond Race winner Jonathan Borlée and Isaac Makwala are by no means easily beaten.
3. Semenya to surprise Sum again?
Eunice Sum is another athlete who has been dominant in the Diamond Race in recent years, winning the women's 800m three years in a row since 2013. Sum suffered an early shock this season, though, as Caster Semenya surged past her and several others on the home straight in Doha to take victory and the lead in the Diamond Race. Both women return to the track in Rabat, and with Sum in third, the reigning champion needs points if she is not going to let Semenya slip away from her in the early season.
4. The return of Rojas and Ibargüen
Yulimar Rojas came as close to beating Caterine Ibargüen as anyone has in recent years at the season opener in Doha. The legendary Colombian triple jumper, who is on a winning streak stretching back several years, was taken all the way in Qatar as Rojas delivered a brilliant duel. Ibargüen eventually won, but Rojas has the chance to try again in Rabat. If she can deliver the impossible and beat Ibargüen, it will certainly throw the Diamond Race wide open.
5. Birech and Kipruto in Africa
Both Jairus Birech and Conseslus Kipruto have been at the top of the men's 3000m Steeplechase for the last few years. It has been been Birech, though, who has dominated in the Diamond Race, having won the Diamond Trophy in 2014 and 2015 after relieving Kipruto of his 2013 title. Birech suffered an early setback in his quest to take a third consecutive title though, as Kipruto stormed to victory in Doha earlier this month. Rabat will see the two African superstars deliver another superb duel at Africa's first Diamond League meeting. What more could you ask for?