Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha headlines a list of no fewer than 14 world and Olympic champions who are expected to grace the Shanghai Diamond League on May 12.
Rudisha, the world record holder over the distance will hope to make it third time lucky after finishing fifth on his Shanghai debut in 2016 and third last year.
Fellow Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot will be hoping to start his Diamond League trophy defence on a the right foot when he parades in the 1500m race.
The stellar line-up includes eight gold medallists from the IAAF World Championships London 2017 and six athletes who struck gold at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, plus nine event winners from last year’s Diamond League and two newly crowned world indoor champions.
Kendra Harrison clinched her first global crown when she took the 60m hurdles title in Birmingham earlier this month, equalling the North American record of 7.70. The outdoor world record-holder will make her Shanghai debut in the 100m hurdles and will face Olympic champion Brianna McNeal (nee Rollins).
The Shanghai crowd will be treated to another tasty head-to-head in the women’s 200m in which two-time world champion Dafne Schippers takes on Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
Schippers will be racing in Shanghai for the first time, while Miller-Uibo has fond memories of the city, having triumphed over 400m for the past two years. The Bahamian set an early world lead to take the Shanghai title in 2017 and went on to claim overall Diamond League trophies for both 200m and 400m, setting a national record of 21.88 in the half-lap final in Zurich when her Dutch rival was fourth.
In the men’s 100m China’s world indoor 60m silver medallist Su Bingtian will take on two world champions, Justin Gatlin and Ramil Guliyev. Su brought the crowd to its feet 12 months ago when he clinched his first ever IAAF Diamond League victory and the Chinese record-holder will be hoping for a repeat performance against the world 100m and 200m champions.
Botswana’s Diamond League champion Isaac Makwala will face world silver medallist Steven Gardiner in the 400m.
Omar McLeod will target a third successive Shanghai victory in the 110m hurdles when he takes on Spain’s Orlando Ortega. Jamaica’s world and Olympic champion broke the 13-second barrier when he triumphed here in 2016 before going on to claim the Olympic crown just ahead of Ortega.
Other reigning IAAF Diamond League champions who will be looking for early points include Dalilah Muhammad in the women’s 400m hurdles and Maria Lasitskene, the world indoor and outdoor high jump champion.
Colombia’s Olympic champion Caterine Ibarguen is targeting a winning return to Shanghai after she won the women’s triple jump here in 2013 and 2015, as will Luvo Manyonga, the South African who leapt to an IAAF Diamond League and African record of 8.61m to take maximum points in the long jump last May before going to win the world title and Diamond trophy in August. Manyonga will face China’s newly minted Asian indoor champion, Shi Yuhao.
Sam Kendricks, another of last year’s world and IAAF Diamond League champions, takes on the host nation’s World Championships fourth-place finisher, Xue Changrui, in the men’s pole vault. Like McLeod, Kendricks is seeking a Shanghai hat-trick after beating world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie with a vault of 5.88m 12 months ago.
Chinese stars will also feature heavily in the women’s throws, not least world and IAAF Diamond League champion Gong Lijiao, who hopes to repeat her season-boosting shot put victory from 12 months ago. Asian record-holder and world bronze medallist Lyu Huihui will also have high hopes in the javelin. More big names will be announced in the next few weeks.