Kerron Clement of USA competes in the Men's 400m Hurdles on day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
by Nenad Djurovic, AIPS Young Reporter, Serbia
DOHA, May 1, 2017 - The 8th edition of the Doha Diamond League can easily use a very effective slogan: ‘No Bolt? No Problem!’
The prestigious meeting scheduled on Friday at the Qatar Sport Club Stadium, will not feature the fastest man on the planet, nevertheless some of the best athletes in the world will make the event intriguing.
To be fair, it must be mentioned that the organizers have negotiated Usain Bolt’s presence in Doha, but the trainer opposed the participation because too early into a very long season. A season mainly focused on the World Championship due in London in late of August, possibly the last officials race for Bolt before retirement.
Without Usain, the limelight on Friday will be for athletes such Us Olympic Champion Kerron Clement and LaShawn Merritt, the two big attractions of the 400m.
Conselsus Kipruto, the 3000m steeplechase gold medalist in Rio, will lead the large Kenyan team and he will take part of the 3000m flat.
“The Doha Diamond league is probably the most important sport competition in the Middle East, for sure the most exciting event hosted in Qatar - says Dr Thani Al-Kuwari, President of the Qatar Athletic Federation and Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, during the press conference for this event.
“Our aim is to organize this meeting to the highest possible standards and provide the very best conditions for athletes and spectators”, he added.
Unfortunately, spectators in Doha won’t be able to see Ivana Španović, the long jump European Champion holding the best result of the season (7.24 m). The Serbian announced her absence a few weeks ago. Despite this defection the women field will still feature world class athletes.
The most intriguing race will probably be in the 200m where Jamaican Olympic and World Champion Elaine Thompson will clash with Dutch Dafne Schippers.
The pole vault will be another thrilling moment of the night with the Greek Ekaterini Stefanidi dueling with Cuban Yaresley Silva.
But of course, the locals will be delighted by their own idols like Olympic hero at Rio 2016, the high jump silver medalist Mutaz Barshim. Barshim will lead a pack of hopeful Qataris that includes Abderrahman Samba, who recently ran the fastest 400m hurdles of 2017 (48.31) and 2016 Olympian javelin thrower Ahmed Bedeir.
“The level of the Doha Diamond League is very high - says Bedeir - I expect the competition to be very tough. I have been training hard and cannot wait to compete and I hope to honour Qatar and make everyone proud.”
“Our athletes have been training very hard over the winter –added Secretary General of the Qatar Athletics Mohamed Al-Fadala-. The Doha Diamond League will be just their second appearance this season but we have a very talented team and we are confident that they will all achieve important results.”
With 16 reigning Olympic and World Champions, and a total of 44 global medalists competing on Friday it will be a tough task for the Qataris.
The Qatar team will also feature the promising sprinter (100m) Mariam Farid, the 19 years old Ambassador for the 2019 IAAF World Championship in Qatar. And having a woman as one of the leading competitors for the Country is already a success.
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