Preview: IAAF Diamond League season kicks off in Doha

Doha the ideal opportunity to “get the legs turning”, says London 2012 silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu

Ohuruogu (Mark Shearman)

She got her season off to a strong start by recording her best-ever season-opener in Kingston on Saturday, and Christine Ohuruogu will be hoping for more of the same when she takes to the track in Doha, Qatar, on Friday for the first Diamond League meet of the season.

The Olympic silver medallist heads a British contingent including the likes of Shara Proctor, Robbie Grabarz, Jack Green, Michael Rimmer and Tiffany Porter, and although she’ll be going in with a view to seeing off the likes of Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and world 400m champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana in the 400m event, the former Olympic champion knows not to get too carried away with what might come from this inaugural meet.

“It’s early season for everyone so I am looking to get out and enjoy a good, competitive race,” comments Ohuruogu.

“Doha is the first race of a long season, and in the end it’s just one race. It’s ideal to get your body going and get the legs turning but there is not really much you can pull out in terms of performance this early in the year.”

With the World Championships in August in her sights, and being known for competing strongly when it counts, Ohuruogu insists she’ll never be complacent. “It is something nice to be aware of my ‘Championship form’,” she says, “but sometimes you run the risk of getting a false sense of security and you end up letting your guard down. So I try not to think about it and I keep working hard”.

Felix is unbeaten in 10 races in Doha and despite adding her golden success in London last summer to her list of achievements, the American says there’s plenty more to come from her yet.

“It feels really great to have the 200 metres gold under my belt, but I feel there’s much more to do,” she explains.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s race, she adds: “It is an early season meeting and it’s like a test, but I like to go up against people in competition, so let’s see”

Also in action in Doha is world 800m record-holder and London 2012 champion David Rudisha who goes into the competition as clear favourite for the two-lap event. The involvement of the likes of fellow Kenyan Timothy Kitum, the Olympic bronze medallist, and Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, who is the only athlete to have successfully challenged Rudisha over the last couple of seasons, means victory in Doha won’t come easy for the pre-race favourite, with British duo Michael Rimmer and Andrew Osagie also lining up.

In the high jump competition Olympic bronze medallist Grabarz will go up against local athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim with whom Grabarz tied bronze with at the London Olympics last summer. They will also face competition in the form of Barshim’s younger brother Muamer, as well as Britain’s Samson Oni and the Russian trio of world silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik, Aleksandr Shustov and Sergey Mudrov.

In the women’s 200m, double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is sure to be eyeing the stadium record of 22.35 set by Romania’s Ionela Tirlea-Manolache back in 1999. With a PB of 22.09, it’s certainly a possibility, but the Jamaican will have to see off the likes of compatriot Sherone Simpson and American Charonda Williams, as well as Olympic semi-finalist Margaret Adeoye of Great Britain.

The men’s shorter sprint will see Olympic 100m bronze medallist Justin Gatlin, the experienced Kim Collins of St. Kitts & Nevis and American Michael Rodgers battle it out for the 100m title.

Six of the competitors Brit Tiffany Porter will face in the women’s 100m hurdles are from the United States, and with Lolo Jones, Dawn Harper and Queen Harrison among them it’s sure to be an exciting battle for victory. In the men’s 400m hurdles event, Britain’s Jack Green will face meeting record-holder LJ van Zyl of South Africa as well as London 2012 silver medallist Michael Tinsley of the USA.

Reigning Olympic Champion Brittney Reese will be looking to claim another Qatari victory in the long jump after her first in 2009. British record-holder Shara Proctor is also in long-jump action in Doha, as is Russian Yelena Sokolova, who Reese beat to gold in London, and Olympic bronze medallist Janay DeLoach Soukup.

Clear favourite in the men’s triple jump is Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor, who recently moved to train under his coach Rana Reider in the UK and believes he is ‘mentally stronger’ for having done so, while in the men’s javelin, Olympic and world junior champion Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago will face Norway’s double Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen.

» You can find the startlists for Doha here. Athletics Weekly will be covering the action via Twitter, as well as online and in next week’s issue, out May 16. Find more detailed information on the 2013 Diamond League schedule, including broadcast coverage, in the May 9 issue of AW.

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