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Paul Chelimo, Joshua Cheptegei, Genzebe Dibaba, Barbora Spotakova and Anita Wlodarczyk have all gone where no other athlete in history has, while with his indoor world record of 18.07m earlier this year, Hugues Fabrice Zango showed he has the potential to one day surpass Jonathan Edwards’ triple jump world record of 18.29m.
With 1500 fans allowed in the stadium, every set of eyes will be trained on Cheptegei when he takes to the track for the men’s 3000m, the final event on the programme. Edged by Duplantis for Male World Athlete of the Year in 2020, the Ugandan 24-year-old has been untouchable on the track since 2019, setting world records at 5000m and 10,000m.
Cheptegei’s current best for 3000m is 7:33.26, but the enlisting of Australia’s Stewart McSweyn – a 7:28 man – as pacemaker suggests the Ugandan is ready to take a massive chunk off that. If conditions are favourable, he looks primed to challenge Daniel Komen’s 3000m world record of 7:20.67, which has stood for 25 years. The world 10,000m champion sharpened his speed last month with a 3:37.36 1500m PB at altitude in Kampala. Olympic 5000m silver medallist Paul Chelimo is likely to be his closest pursuer.
Elsewhere in the distance events, world half marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo will open his season over 10,000m where it seems the 20-year-old Ugandan’s personal best of 27:26.68 is due for serious revision. In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, 2019 Diamond League champion Getnet Wale of Ethiopia will be looking to improve on his best of 8:05.21, having clocked a blazing 7:24.98 for 3000m indoors back in February.
Poland’s world bronze medalist Marcin Lewandowski takes on Ugandan record-holder Ronald Musagala in the men's 1500m. European Indoor 800m champion Patryk Dobek will race the two-lap distance in Ostrava, and the Pole remains undecided between the 800m and the 400m hurdles for the Tokyo Olympics. He should get a good indicator of his medal chances at the longer distance on Wednesday as he takes on seasoned veterans Adam Kszczot and Amel Tuka.
Genzebe Dibaba is the star attraction in the women’s 1500m, her first outing at the distance in which she holds the world record since August 2019. The Ethiopian made an eye-catching half marathon debut last December when clocking 1:05:18 in Valencia, but she failed to finish on her only outing since, an indoor 3000m in February. Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo should be her biggest rival. In the women’s 800m, European indoor champion Keely Hodgkinson should be tough to beat.
Richardson takes on Schippers and Okagbare
In the sprints, the women’s 200m will take top billing, with fans eager to see what Sha’Carri Richardson can produce after her red-hot form in recent weeks. The 21-year-old US sprinter clocked wind-legal 100m times of 10.72, 10.74 and 10.77 already this season and she seems primed to dip below 22 seconds over 200m for the first time. Also in the field is two-time world champion Dafne Schippers and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare.
Olympic 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse will face 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin in the men’s 100m and while both have edged below 10 seconds this year, they will have it all to do to beat 400m specialist Fred Kerley, who clocked 9.91 (2.0m/s) in Miami last month.
Kerley is also slated for the 200m, which takes place 80 minutes after the 100m. In the latter, Kenny Bednarek should prove tough to beat, having run 19.94 behind Noah Lyles at the USATF Golden Games recently.
In the men’s 400m, 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James will be looking to return to his best as the clock counts down towards the Tokyo Games. The Grenadian opened his season with a 44.88-second clocking in Phoenix, USA, last month, though Vernon Norwood is the quickest in the field this year with his 44.64.
Olympic bronze medallist Yasmani Copello headlines the men’s 400m hurdles, while Denmark’s Sara Slott Petersen is the quickest on paper in the women’s event.(05/17/2021) Views: 974 ⚡AMP