Doha: Six Global Champions Among Initial Names Confirmed
Ibarguen is one of six reigning world outdoor and Olympic champions to be confirmed across the first three events - long jump, pole vault and 100m hurdles - with more top names to be unveiled in the weeks leading up to the one-day spectacle which will be held under the lights next month.
The Khalifa International Stadium will launch the outdoor season and will draw the curtain on the year when the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 are held at the same iconic sports venue from 28 September to 6 October, the first time the IAAF World Championships will be staged in the Middle East.
The Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) President and Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) Dr. Thani Al Kuwari said: "It gives us great pleasure to announce that some of the leading names in the track and field world will be seen in action on May 3 2019. Qatar feels proud to host the names that matter in the track and field world."
He added: "This year's IAAF Diamond League opener will be the tenth time that Qatar will host this prestigious one-day event. Also, this year's IAAF Diamond League opener will be held at Qatar's iconic sports venue - the Khalifa International Stadium. The same venue will host the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 later this year."
The QAF President said: "We welcome all sports fans to come to Doha enjoy the best of athletics in what will be a memorable year for us. Qatar is the sports hub of the region and we can't wait for the action to begin at our special sports venue - the Khalifa International Stadium."
One of the standout clashes of the meeting will be the long jump which features two reigning Olympic champions: Caterine Ibarguen and Tianna Bartoletta from the United States. Ibarguen is the reigning Olympic champion in the triple jump but the Colombian had the beating of the long jump specialists at both the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels last year and the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava. Ibarguen will be looking to begin the new season in the form she concluded her 2018 campaign.
"I am thrilled to launch my season in Qatar,” said Ibarguen. “It is a country where athletics is popular and I am confident I can perform to the best of my abilities at the start of the season.”
Not since May 2012 has Ibarguen faced Bartoletta when the Colombian came out victorious for the third time in their three competitions but since then, the American has won three Olympic titles - two in the 4x100m relay and one in the long jump - as well as the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in 2015.
The line-up also features Great Britain’s Shara Proctor, who won silver behind Bartoletta at the 2015 World Championships, and Australia’s Brooke Stratton who leads the 2019 world list with 6.74m.
The pole vault also features two reigning global outdoor champions: world champion Sam Kendricks fro the United States and Olympic champion Thiago Braz from Brazil who returned to form during the indoor season with a 5.80m clearance.
Kendricks also competed extensively through the indoor season and finished top of the world indoor list with 5.93m alongside Poland’s world silver medallist Piotr Lisek who will launch his outdoor season in Doha.
“Jumping at Khalifa international stadium is a great honor.” Said Kendricks “It’s exciting to compete in the venue hosting the World Championships this year. I know the world class field of jumpers will make it a sight not to miss for the fans in Doha.”
In the first track event to be announced, reigning Olympic 100m hurdles champion and 2018 Diamond League champion Brianna McNeal from the United States will be looking to improve on her runner-up finish from twelve months ago when she finished second to world record-holder Kendra Harrison - 12.53 to 12.58.
Harrison is absent this year but McNeal, who is the fourth fastest sprint hurdler of all-time with 12.26, will face a typically competitive line-up including Australia’s reigning world champion Sally Pearson and Jamaica’s Danielle Williams, who preceded Pearson as the world champion in Beijing in 2015.
The field also features European champion Elvira Herman from Belarus, African champion Tobi Amusan from Nigeria and Sharika Nelvis who won the US indoor 60m hurdles title in a world-leading 7.85.
McNeal said: "I am looking forward to going to Doha for the IAAF Diamond League opener. I want to do well there because the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 will be held at the same venue. It will give me and other athletes a great opportunity to assess the venue and facilities of what I am told is a superb sports venue."
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