Brussels Diamond League Preview
Eighty-five medallists from the recent Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships are set to compete at the 46th edition of the Memorial Ivo Van Damme at the King Baudouin in Brussels on Friday 2 September. The figure includes thirty-nine World Championships medallists in Eugene, 23 Olympic medalists, and 23 European Championships medallists.
Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, Armand Duplantis and Allison Dos Santos will be the headliners in the Belgian capital.
Men’s shot put (city event):
Two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Joe Kovacs broke the meeting record with 22.61m to win the men’s shot put city event competition held at the Fish Market, one of the main tourist attractions of the Belgian capital in the city centre.
This year’s Commonwealth Games champion Tom Walsh from New Zealand took the early lead with 21.60m in the first round. Kovacs threw 22.61m in the second round, improving the previous meeting record by 17 cm. Kovacs threw beyond the 22m mark with 22.48m, which is also better than the previous meeting record set by his compatriot Darrell Hill in 2017 with 22.44m in another city event held at Grand Place.
Jacko Gill took third place with 21.32m in the fifth round beating European champion Filip Mihaljevic, who threw 21.13m in the opening round. Italian champion Nick Ponzio produced a throw of 21.06m in his fourth round to take fifth place ahead of Adrian Piperi (20.88m).
Joe Kovacs: “I think there is more in the tank, but hopefully in Zurich or Zagreb I can get out a few big throws and get towards the 23 metres line. I need to relax, but not relax too much. It’s fun for us. We love being in a stadium for a championship, but this is an exhibition. It’s fun, and makes it enjoyable for everyone”.
Men’s pole vault:
Armand Duplantis will make the fourth appearance of his career at the Memorial Van Damme. After finishing seventh as a teenager in 2018, he claimed two wins improving the meeting record both times in 2020 with 6.00m and 2021 with 6.05m.
Duplantis won his first world outdoor gold medal breaking the world record with 6.21m and his second consecutive European title in Munich with 6.06m. He has remained unbeaten in his 18 indoor and outdoor competitions this year and cleared the 6 metres 14 times (seven outdoors and seven indoors). He won six Diamond League competitions in Doha (6.02m), Eugene (5.91m), Oslo (6.02m), Stockholm (6.16m), Chorzow (6.10m) and Lausanne (6.10m) making every win look easy.
Armand Duplantis: “I love the vibe of Brussels. You feel the energy of the stadium. Records don’t come to order. All the pieces have to fall into place, physically and mentally, but the weather and wind also play their part. It is one of my favourite places to jump. I will literally set the bar as high as possible.”.
Chris Nilsen won the Olympic silver medal with 5.97n in Tokyo and finished runner-up to Duplantis with 5.94m at the World Championships in Eugene. Nilsen took second place to his Swedish rival in Brussels last year with 5.85m. He joined the exclusive club of 6 metres jumpers when he set his national record of 6.05m at the indoor meeting in Rouen.
The Olympic podium is completed by Thiago Braz Da Silva, who won the bronze medal in Tokyo with 5.87m. This year the Brazilian pole vaulter won the world indoor silver medal in Belgrade with 5.95m and placed fourth at the World Championships in Eugene with 5.87m.
Renaud Lavillenie returns to Brussels where he won three times in 2013 (5.96m), 2014 (5.93m) and 2015 (5.95m). This year the Frenchman placed fifth at the World Championships in Eugene with 5.87m.
The Belgian hopes are carried by national record holder Ben Broeders, who set the national record with 5.85m in Merzig and won his first Diamond League competition in Paris with 5.80m beating Lavillenie on countback.
Pal Haugen Lillefosse from Norway will be looking to continue his good season after winning the European bronze medal in Munich.
Women’s 100 metres:
Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce won her fifth world title in the 100m in Eugene in 10.67 and the silver medal in the 200 metres in 21.81. The 35-year-old Jamaican sprint legend dipped under the 10.70 barrier this season clocking 10.62 in Monaco, 10.66 in Chorzow and 10.67 four times in Nairobi, Paris, at the World Championships in Eugene and Szekesfehervar. She had to pull out of the Lausanne Diamond League race due to hamstring discomfort. Fraser Pryce moved up to third on the all-time list with her PB of 10.60 in Lausanne last year and has held the Memorial Van Damme record with 10.72 since 2013.
At 35 Fraser Pryce feels in the shape of her life:
“I feel so good that it should be a shame not to run here and take advantage of that good feeling. I had a small muscle contracture in Lausanne but it is not too bad. My tests yesterday and this morning were good. I am really looking forward to running at the Memorial Van Damme I am consistently running a very fast season with times ranging between 10.60 and 10.70. My PB is 10,60 and I firmly believe that a few hundredths can be shaved off. Once you run times like 10.50, everything is possible. I want to continue until at least the Olympic Games in Paris 2024”, said Fraser Pryce.
Fraser Pryce will go head-to-head against her Jamaican rival Shericka Jackson, who won the silver medal in the 100m in 10.73 and the gold medal in the 200 metres in 21.45 setting the second fastest time in history over the longer distance at the World Championships in Eugene. After Eugene Jackson improved her PB by two-hundredths of a second to 10.71 in the Monaco Diamond League meeting and placed second in Lausanne In 10.87.
The other sprint stars lining up are three-time world medallist Marie Josée Ta Lou from Ivory Coast, Sha’Carri Richardson and Aleia Hobbs. Ta Lou finished seventh in 10.93 in the 100m final in Eugene. In the weeks after Eugene, she improved her African record to 10.72 in Monaco and finished third in Lausanne in 10.89.
Sha’Carri Richardson did not qualify for the World Championships in Eugene but she set a seasonal best of 10.85 at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in New York. The 22-year-old US sprinter set the seventh fastest time in history with her PB of 10.72 in Miramar last year. Richardson is currently ninth In the Diamond League standings and needs fourth place to qualify for Zurich. Richardson beat Elaine Thompson Herah in Lucerne last Tuesday.
Hobbs won the most recent 100m Diamond League race in Lausanne in 10.87 and finished second in Chorzow in 10.94 and fourth in Monaco in 10.81, but she needs to score points to seal her spot in the Diamond League final in Zurich. The 2018 US champion finished second at the US Championships in Eugene in a wind-assisted 10.72 and sixth in the World Championships final in 10.92.
Men’s 400 metres hurdles:
World champion Aliison Dos Santos will seek his sixth Diamond League win this season after claiming victories in Doha (47.24), Eugene (47.23), Oslo (47.26), Stockholm (46.80) and Chorzow (47.80). The Brazilian hurdler won the Olympic bronze medal in a South American record of 46.72 moving to third in the world all-time list. Last July he won the world gold medal in Eugene improving his PB to 46.29. Only Karsten Warholm and Raj Benjamin ran faster than Dos Santos in history with 45.94 and 46.17 respectively. Dos Santos could attack the meeting record held by André Phillips with 47.51 since 1986.
Dos Santos will face Wilfried Happio from France, who finished fourth at the World Championships in a lifetime best of 47.41, missing Stephane Diagana’s national record by 0.04.
US Khalifah Rosser will be looking to continue his breakthrough season, in which he finished third at the US Championships in 47.66, fifth at the World Championships in Eugene in 47.88, second at the NACAC Championships in Freeport in 47.59 and won at the Athletissima in Lausanne in 47.68.
The hopes of Belgian fans are carried by Julien Watrin, who won the world bronze medal and the European silver in the 4×400 relay this summer.
Men’s 200 metres:
Erriyon Knighton will make his debut at the Memorial Ivo Van Damme. The 18-year-old US sprinter broke Usain Bolt’s world under 20 record clocking 19.88 in the semifinal and 19.84 in the final at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene. He finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 19.93.
Knighton moved up to fourth in the world all-time with his PB of 19.49 and finished second to Noah Lyles in 19.69 at the US Championships. He clocked 19.77 in the semifinal of the World Championships in Eugene before winning the bronze medal with19.80. In his first three European races in the Diamond League and in the Continental Tour he won in Szekesfehervar in 19.88 and finished second in Monaco in 19.84 and sixth in Lausanne in 20.13.
Knighton is currently sixth in the 200m qualifying standings for the Diamond League Final in Zurich ahead of Aaron Brown, Joseph Fahnbulleh and Eseosa Desalu. He will need a win in Brussels to secure his spot in the final.
Erryion Knighton: “It is my first time in Brussels. My first impression is that it is a very beautiful city. Two years ago I would never have dreamed that I would be able to travel the world, to discover so many new cities and countries. It’s a blessing. The comparison to Bolt does not bother me. It is just an honour to be mentioned in the same breath with such a legend. All that history does not really keep me awake at night. I want to run as fast as I can. That’s all”.
Knighton will face Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh, who won two NCAA titles in the 100m and 200m and finished fourth in the 200m at the World Championships in Eugene in 19.84, Alexander Ogando from the Dominican Republic, fifth in the Eugene final in 19.93, Jereem Richards from Trinidad and Tobago, Commonwealth Games champion in a national record of 19.80, Reynier Mena from Cuba, who improved his PB to a national record of 19.63 in La Chaux de Fonds and won in Szczecin in 19.95, and Eseosa Desalu from Italy, Olympic champion with the 4×100 relay and winner in the 200m in Brussels in 2020 in 20.39.
Women’s high jump:
World champion Eleanor Patterson from Australia will renew her rivalry against the other two medallists of Eugene 2022 Yaroslava Mahuchik from Ukraine (silver) and Elena Vallortigara (bronze). Patterson won the world indoor silver medal behind Mahuchik in Belgrade clearing 2.00m for the first time in her career last March. She got injured at the start of the outdoor season, but she came back to win the first Diamond League competition of her career in Stockholm with 1.96m. She cleared a lifetime best of 2.02m to win the world gold medal beating Mahuchik on countback. Patterson continued the season with a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games with 1.92m.
Mahuchik also won two gold medals at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade with 2.02m and the European outdoor Championships in Munich with 1.95m. At this year’s edition of the Diamond League, the Ukrainian jumper won three competitions in Eugene (2.00m), Rabat (1.96m) and Paris (2.01m) and finished fifth in Stockholm with 1.89m and second in Chorzow with 1.92m.
Mahuchik and Gerashcenko are the only two athletes who have secured their spots for the Diamond League final.
Vallortigara claimed the world bronze medal with 2.00m in Eugene beating Iryna Geraschchenko on countback. The Italian high jumper set the second-best performance of her career four years after setting her lifetime best of 2.02m at the Anniversary Games in London.
The line-up also features Nicola Olyslagers from Australia, Olympic silver medallist in Tokyo with 2.02m and world championships finalist in Eugene with 1.96m, Safina Sadullayeva from Uzbekistan, fifth at the World Championships in Eugene with 1.96m and winner in the Diamond League meeting in Chorzow with 1.92m, Marija Vukovic from Montenegro, who won the European silver medal in Munich with 1.95m on countback, and 2017 world silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko.
Women’s 100 metres hurdles:
World silver and bronze medallist Brittany Anderson and Jasmine Camacho Quinn will be challenged by Olympic silver medallist Kendra Harrison and fresh European champion Pia Skrzyszowska from Poland.
Camacho Quinn won the world bronze medal in Eugene in 12.23 in a close photo-finish with second placer Anderson. The Puerto Rican hurdler won five Diamond League races this year in Eugene (12.43), Rome (12.37), Stockholm (12.46), Chorzow (12.34) and Lausanne (12.34).
Jasmine Camacho Quinn: “I will have a tough competition with Kendra Harrison and Britany Anderson… We bump into each other at almost every meeting. We love those duels and don’t avoid each other. We push each other. We want to bring a big spectacle to Brussels too. We don’t like mediocrity. We want to give a show”.
Anderson finished second in Doha in 12.44 and Rome in 12.50 and fifth in Lausanne (12.59).
Harrison won silver medals at the World Championships in Doha 2019 and in Tokyo 2021 and held the world record for six years with 12.20. The US hurdler clocked a seasonal best of 12.27 in the semifinal of the World Championships in Eugene, but she stumbled and was disqualified in the final.
Skrzyszowska set the Polish record with 12.51 in the Chorzow Diamond League and won the European gold medal in Munich.
The line-up is completed by Devynne Charlton from the Bahamas, world indoor silver medallist in the 60 metres hurdles in Belgrade in 7.81, Commonwealth Games silver medallist in Birmingham in 12.58 and NACAC Championships in Freeport in 12.71, Nadine Visser, two-time European Indoor champion in 2019 and 2021 and winner in Brussels in 12.69, and Anne Zagré from Belgium, fourth at the European Championships in Zurich 2014.
Women’s 3000 metres steeplechase:
Ethiopia’s Werkusha Getachew and Barhein’s Winfred Yavi could break the world record in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase.
Getachew won the world silver medal in Eugene in her PB of 8:54.61 before claiming the first Diamond League victory of her career in Monaco in 9:06.19.
Yavi finished fourth in two consecutive editions of the World Championships in Doha 2019 and Eugene 2022. She won the Diamond League race in Paris in 8:56.55 and finished second in Eugene in 8:58.71.
Beatrice Chepkoech is also lining up. The Kenyan athlete set the world record clocking 8:44.32 at the Monaco Diamond League in 2018.
The lineup features Olympic gold medallist Peruth Chemutai from Uganda, European gold medallist Luiza Gega from Albania and Mekides Abebe from Ethiopia, world bronze medallist in Eugene and Olympic fourth placer in Tokyo, and US Courtney Frerichs, Olympic silver medallist and national record holder with 8:57.77 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene in 2021.
Women’s 1500 metres:
Laura Muir will be looking to crown a successful season, in which she won her second consecutive European gold medal in the 1500m in Munich, the world bronze medal in Eugene ain in the 1500m and two Commonwealth Games medals (gold In the 1500m and bronze in the 800m). The British middle-distance star won the 1500m in Brussels in 3:58.49 in 2018.
Muir will go head-to-head against European silver medallist Clara Mageean from Ireland in a re-match of the European final in Munich. The lineup also features five Ethiopian athletes with a sub-4 minutes PB: Freweyni Hailu, who finished fourth in the 1500m at the Olympic Games and clocked 3:56.28 in Monaco, Diribe Welteji, fourth in the 800m final at the World Championships in Eugene, Axumawit Embaye, world indoor silver medallist in 1500 in Belgrade last March, and Ayal Dagnachew, who won the world under 20 gold medal in Nairobi and clocked a PB f 3:59.87 in Ostrava last May.
Men’s 800 metres:
The men’s 800 metres reunites the three medallists of the World Championships in Eugene: Emmanuel Korir from Kenya (gold), Djamel Sedjati from Algeria (silver) and Marco Arop from Canada (bronze). Korir set his seasonal best of 1:43.71 to win his first world title one year after claiming the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. Korir crowned a successful 2021 season with his win in the Diamond League final in Zurich. The Kenyan athlete will chase his second Diamond League win this season following his victory in Chorzow in 1:45.72.
The line-up also features Mariano Garcia from Spain and Jake Wightman from Great Britain, who won the gold and silver medals respectively at the European Championships in Munich, and Ferguson Rotich, who won the Olympic silver in Tokyo 2021 and world bronze in Doha 2019. Wightman also won the world gold medal in the 1500m in a PB of 3:29.23 in Eugene and a silver medal in the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Men’s 5000 metres:
World 5000m silver medallist Jacob Krop will take on world seasonal leader Nicholas Kimeli, world 10000m silver medallist Stanley Mburu and Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha.
Krop finished second in the 5000 metres at the Golden Gala in Rome setting the ninth fastest time in history with 12:46.79. He finished second in the 5000m at the World Championships in Eugene in 13:09.98 and third over the same distance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 13:08.48.
Kimeli set the fastest time in the world this year when he won in the Diamond League in Rome with 12:46.33.
Mburu won the world under 20 silver medal in the 5000m in Tampere and finished second in the 10000m at the World Championships in Eugene in 27:27.90.
Yomif Kejelcha won the world silver medal in the 10000 metres in Doha 2019 and set his PB with 12:46.79 in Brussels in 2018.
The other athletes to watch are US middle distance runner Grant Fisher, fourth in the 10000m and sixth in the 5000m at the World Championships in Eugene, and Thierry Ndikumewenayo from Burundi, winner in the 3000m in Monaco in a national record of 7:25.93 and second in the 5000m in Paris in 13:05.24, Oscar Chelimo from Uganda, world 5000m bronze medallist in Eugene, Luis Grijalva, fourth in the 5000m at the World Championships in Eugene, Domnic Lobalu from South Sudan, winner in the 3000m in Stockholm in his lifetime best of 7:29.48 and fifth in Monaco in 7:31.54,
Women’s 400 metres:
Mary Moraa from Kenya will face former Dutch record holder Lieke Klaver. Moraa won the world bronze medals in the 800 metres at the World Championships in Eugene in 1:58.71 and the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 1:57.07. She started her career as a 400m and won a world under 18 silver over this distance in Nairobi in 2017.
Klaver finished fourth at the World Championships in Eugene and sixth at the European Championships in Munich. The Dutch athlete set two national records in Eugene clocking 50.24 in the heats and 50.18 in the semifinals and won the European gold medal in the 4×400 relay.
Belgian 400m record holder Cynthia Bolingo will line up in the 400 metres in front of her home fans. Bolingo won the European Indoor silver medal in the 400m in Glasgow 2019. After some difficult years, Bolingo made her come back at this year’s European Championships in Munich, where she finished seventh in 50.94 and fourth in the 4×400 relay in 3:27.69.
Women’s javelin throw:
The three medallists from the World Championships and the European Championships will line up in a great women’s javelin competition. Double world champion Kelsey Lee Barber from Australia will take on world silver. NACAC champion Kara Winger and world bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi, who won two Diamond League competitions in Paris and Monaco, European champion Elin Tzengko from Greece, the world under 20 champion and European silver medallist Adriana Vilagos and world record holder Barbora Spotakova, who won the European bronze medal in Munich at the age of 41.
Men’s triple jump:
African record holder Fabrice Hugues Zango will clash against Zhu Yaming in a re-match of the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the World Championships in Eugene. Zhu Yaming won the Olympic silver medal in Tokyo beating Zango, who became the first athlete from Burkina Faso to win a medal at the Olympic Games. Zango claimed the first world silver medal in Eugene with 17.55m, while Zhu placed third with 17.31m. They will clash against Cuba’s Lazaro Martinez, who won the world indoor gold medal in Belgrade with 17.64m and set his outdoor PB with 17.50m in Lausanne last week, world indoor bronze medallist Donald Scott from the USA, Jean-Marc Pontvianne from France, European bronze medallist in Munich and Tobia Bocchi from Italy, who finished fourth at the European Championships.
Women’s long jump:
Belgian heptathlon star Nafissatou Thiam was planning to compete in the high jump but she decided to switch to the long jump. Tham will jump in front of her home fans after a dream summer in which she won two gold medals in the heptathlon at the World Championships in Eugene with 6947 points (the second best performance of her career after her PB of 7013 points) and at the European Championships in Munich with 6628 points after setting a seasonal best of 1.98m in the high jump. Thiam set her PB of 6.85m in the long jump in the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in 2019.
Olympic bronze and world silver medallist Ese Brume will take on NACchampion Quanesha Burks, world indoor under 20 record holder Larissa Iapichino from Italy, who finished fifth at the European Championships in Munich, and this year’s world indoor champion Noor Vidts from Belgium.
Men’s hour run:
Former world half marathon record holder Kibiwot Kandie will attack the world record of 21.330m in the men’s hour run. Mo Farah set the world record on the Brussels track in 2020. The other top names are 21 km specialist Sebastian Kimaru Sawe, who won the Rome-Ostia last March with 58:02 and the Seville Half Marathon with 59.02, 59:28 half marathon performer Joshua Belet, world under 20 5000m bronze medallist Levy Kibet and Australian half marathon record holder Brett Robinson.
Men’s 400 metres:
The Borlée brothers Kevin and Dylan, who won the world bronze medal in Eugene and finished second at the European Championships in Munich, will line up against 2018 world under 20 Jonathan Sacoor in a non-DL 400m race and Alexander Doom.