Men’s 200 metres
The men’s half lap features a face-off between the reigning silver and bronze medallists from last year’s world championships, Jamaican Warren Weir and Curtis Mitchell.
Weir followed up his bronze medal performance at the 2012 Olympic Games with a runner-up finish behind Usain Bolt in Moscow last year. Illustrating his growing consistency and confidence, the 24-year-old twice clocked a personal best 19.79 in 2013.
Mitchell meanwhile, the World bronze medallist, improved to 19.97 last season to stake his claim as the U.S. No. 1 in the event.
In Kingston last Saturday, their last pre-Doha outings, Weir was a distant fourth in the 100m (10.30) while Mitchell, in his season’s debut, was beaten into second place by a scant 0.01 by Rasheed Dwyer, 20.53 to 20.54.
Dwyer, who has a 20.15 career best from last year, is also in Friday’s field and will be looking to impress on a larger stage.
The field also includes reigning European champion Churandy Martina of the Netherlands, who was fifth at the 2012 Olympics and another quick Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade (19.85, 2012), a Moscow 4x100m relay gold medallist.
Qatari hopes lie with Femi Ogunode, the 2014 world indoor 60m bronze medallist, who will be making his outdoor debut.
Meeting record: 20.02, Walter Dix (USA), 2012
Start Time: 20:36
Men’s 400 metres
The men’s 400m will feature the season’s third rematch of last year’s World Championships medallists.
LaShawn Merritt of the U.S. was the picture of dominance in Moscow last summer with his commanding 43.74 victory for his second global title. Behind him, compatriot Tony McQuay edged Luguelin Santos by just 0.02 seconds in 44.40 to win the battle for silver over the young Dominican. In 2012 Santos surprised the world with his silver medal run at the 2012 Olympic Games when he just 18.
This year the trio have already raced twice, with Merritt and Santos each taking a victory. Merritt won at the Drake Relays in Des Moines in 44.44 with Santos third (44.72), but the Domican returned the favor in Kingston on Saturday, winning 44.82 to 44.86. McQuay was well back in each contest but is getting faster with each race.
Joining the trio will be a rising star in the event, Czech Pavel Maslak, who followed up his fifth place finish at last year’s World Championships with a powerful run to win the World Indoor title last weekend. Maslak, just 23, is also the reigning European champion indoors and out.
Asian Champion and 2013 World Championships finalist Youssef Ahmed Masrahi from Saudi Arabia leads the Arab athletes’ attack.
Meeting Record: 44.19, LaShawn Merritt, USA, 2012
Start Time: 19:26
Men’s 800 metres*
With Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha forced to the sidelines with injury, the focus of the two-lap contest will fall on Nijel Amos of Botswana, the man who chased the Kenyan to the finish in his legendary world record run in London’s Olympic Stadium, and late entry Mohamad Aman of Ethiopia, the reigning world champion.
Aman, still just 20, won his second consecutive world indoor title in commanding style two months ago and is seen by many as the most serious threat to Rudisha’s throne. Aman beat Rudisha in Zurich in 2012 –the last man to have beaten the Kenyan–but he needed a superb 1:42.53 national record to do it. He’s since gotten faster with a 1:42.37 run in Brussels last year to break into the event’s all-time top-10.
Amos was just 18 and a freshly-minted world junior champion when he arrived in the British capital. Few would have imaged that he’d leave the London track as Olympic silver medallist and world junior record holder. But he did, albeit on a stretcher, tied with Sebastian Coe as history’s third fastest man after his 1:41.73 performance. Injury slowed him last year but he’ll be arriving confident after a recent 400m PB.
Qatar will be well represented by national record holder Abdulrahman Musaeb Bala (1:43.93), the 2013 Asian champion, and rising star Jamal Hairane. Kenya will be well represented by Job Kinyor (1:43.76 PB, 2nd in Doha in 2012) and Ferguson Cheruiyot (1:43.22, 2013) while Briton Andrew Osagie, another London 2012 finalist, will also be in the field on the heels of his second successive world indoor bronze medal-winning run.
Meeting record: 1:43.00, David Rudisha (KEN), 2010
Start Time: 19:56
*not a Diamond Race scoring event in Doha
Men’s 1500 metres
Kenyans have dominated the 1500 metres in Doha, winning the race 13 of the 14 times it’s been contested since the meeting’s inception in 1997. This year an intriguing line-up could put a halt, at least temporarily, that that dominance.
Not that they won’t come heavily armed. 2008 Olympic champion and reigning world champion Asbel Kiprop, last year’s winner, will return to defend. Nixon Chepseba, the 2011 winner who finished just outside of the medals in Moscow, is also in the field, along with Silas Kiplagat, the 2011 world silver medallist who took top honours in Doha in 2012.
All three are established prolific racers and won the Diamond Race in the event in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively.
They’ll be challenged by a pair of relative newcomers who have already claimed some of the sport’s highest accolades.
There is Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, the impressive winner at the world indoor championships two months ago and last season’s Diamond Race winner. Just 21, he also an 800 metre bronze medal from last year’s world championships to his credit as well.
Perhaps commanding most attention will be Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi, who raced to surprise Olympic gold two years ago. The enigmatic 26-year-old has only raced on five occasions since his shock victory at the London Games, and only once last season before a viral infection cut his season short and kept him from the world championships.
Other medallists in the field include South African Johan Cronje, 2013 world bronze medallist; Ilham Tanui Ozbilen of Turkey and Ethiopian Aman Wote, respectively the 2012 and 2014 world indoor silver medallists; and Mekonnen Gebremedhin of Ethiopia, who raced to 2012 world indoor bronze.
Qatar will be well represented by Hamza Driouch, the 2012 world junior champion.
Meeting record: 3:29.63, Silas Kiplagat (KEN), 2012
Start Time: 19:14
Men’s 110 metre hurdles
The men’s high hurdles contest features a podium reunion from last world championships led by gold medallist David Oliver of the US.
Oliver, the 2010 and 2013 Diamond Race winner, dominated the proceedings in Moscow last year to collect his first world title clocking 13 seconds flat, the year’s fastest performance. With a career best of 12.88, Oliver has gone significantly faster and remains one of only four men who have broken the 12.90 barrier.
A prolific racer, Oliver has already collected three wins in four outings this season and brings a 13.23 season’s best to Doha.
Finishing behind the powerfully-built American in Moscow were teammate Ryan Wilson and Sergey Shubenkov of Russia, like Oliver first time world championship medallists. Wilson’s name is a familiar one on the circuit where he’s been a regular fixture since 2006. He too has raced four times already with a 13.30 season’s best.
Shubenkov, at 23, is very much the event’s rising star. His breakout came in 2012 when he captured the European title in 13.09, a national record and still his career best. Doha will mark his first outdoor race.
Other to watch is 22-year-old Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, silver medallist at the world indoors in March.
Arab interest lies with Abdulaziz Al-Mandeel of Kuwait, silver medallist at last year’s Asian Championships.
Meeting record: 12.95, David Oliver, USA, 2008
Start Time: 19:46
Men’s 3000 metres steeplechase
Kenyans have won the steeplechase seven of the eight times it’s been contested in Doha and they’ll come well armed to keep that dominance alive.
Leading the pack will be Ezekiel Kemboi, the 2004 and 2012 Olympic champion who’s also taken home world titles in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
There is Brimin Kipruto whose credentials include 2008 Olympic champion, 2007 world champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist. In Monaco in 2011, he clocked 7:53.64, just 0.01 shy of the world record to become the second fastest in history.
And then there is steeplechase journeyman Paul Kipsiele Koech, the meet record holder and at 7:54.31 the third fastest men ever in the event. Koech won the Diamond Race in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
After the Big-Three comes even more fire power. Abel Mutai, the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and world finalist last year, is also in the field, along with Hillary Yego and Gilbert Kirui, last year’s fifth and seventh fastest men, respectively.
Challengers to Kenyan supremacy include Moroccan Hamid Ezzine, a finalist at the 2012 Olympics and last two world championships and Uganda record holder Benjamin Kiplagat (8:03.81). Qatari hopes lie with veteran Ali Abubaker Kamal, a 2008 Olympic finalist.
Meeting record: 7:56.58, Paul Kipsiele Koech, (KEN), 2012
Start Time: 20:18
Men’s high jump
For local fans, no event will command as much attention as the men’s high jump where Qatar’s biggest athletics hero, freshly-minted world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim, takes centre stage. The event also features perhaps the strongest field of the night.
The start list features a near-complete reunion of the large London 2012 podium with winner Ivan Ukhov, silver medallist Erik Kynard of the U.S., as well as Canadian Derek Drouin, one of two men who shared Olympic bronze with Barshim, all in the field.
Drouin, who also took bronze at the world championships last year, has already laid down an early season marker with his sensational 2.40m leap at the Drake Relays late last month.
Ukhov has soared even higher. In February he topped 2.42, a height which only World record holder Javier Sotomayor has surpassed either indoors or out. Barshim defeated Ukhov at the World Indoor Championships last month so you can expect the fiercely competitive Russian to seek some solace with revenge in the Qatari’s backyard.
Don’t discount Bahamian Donald Thomas or another American, meet record holder Jesse Williams, respectively the 2007 and 2011 World champions.
Notable: Barshim has yet to win on home turf; he was third in 2011 and runner-up last year.
Meeting record: 2.33, Jesse Williams (USA), 2011
Start Time: 18:40
Men’s Long Jump
Veteran Ignisious Gaisah of the Netherlands and newcomer Luis Alberto Rivera of Mexico, respectively the 2013 world championships silver and bronze medallists, lead a wide-open field in the men’s long jump.
Gaisah, who leaped to world silver back in 2005 and world indoor gold in 2006, has shown exemplary longevity and consistency at the world level, while Rivera is a relatively new name on the global stage, making his breakout with an 8.46 victory and national record at the World University Games one month before claiming a podium finish in Moscow.
The field also boasts three other recent global medallists. South African Godfrey Mokoena was the 2008 world champion indoors, and also leaped to silver medal-winning performances at the 2008 Olympic Games, 2009 world championships and 2010 world indoor championships.
Most intriguing is the entry of Christian Taylor, the reigning Olympic champion in the Triple Jump. His credentials in the longer of the horizontal jumps are obviously proven –with his 17.96 leap to win the 2011 world title he became the fifth farthest jumper in history– but he has yet to make a splash in the long jump. He’s hoping to change that this season with an expanded focus on both jumps.
Others to watch include Chris Tomlinson of Great Britain, the 2008 world indoor silver medallist, and Greek record holder Louis Tsatoumas (8.66 PB, 2007) who finished fourth at the world indoors two months ago.
Meeting record: 8.41, James Beckford (JAM), 1999
Start Time: 17:25
Men’s Discus Throw
Figuring prominently here, as he has in nearly every competition for much of the past decade, is Estonian Gerd Kanter, the most prolific Diamond League participant in a single event.
A voracious competitor, the twice world (2005, 2011) and 2008 Olympic champion has competed in 26 of 28 Diamond League meets since the series debuted in 2010, collecting nine victories, 18 scoring (top-three) finishes and the 2012 and 2013 Diamond Races in the event.
Although his 73.38m career best dates back to 2006, he always finds himself in the mix, as a world bronze last year, and 2012 Olympic bronze and European silver can attest.
Asian hopes are riding on the powerful shoulders of Ehsan Hadadi of Iran, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist. Pole Piotr Malachowski, the Diamond Race winner in 2010 and world silver medallist a year ago, likes the Doha circle. He won here in 2012, his 67.53m effort more than a metre better than Hadadi and nearly two farther than Kanter.
Others to watch include Frank Casanas of Spain and India’s Vikas Gowda, both finalists in London 2012 and Moscow last year.
Meeting record: 69.47, Virgilijus Alekna (LTU), 2006
Start Time: 17:30
As of 5 May