Olympic Champions Perkovic, Sanchez and Walcott to Face Opposition at 2015 Doha IAAF Diamond League
Judging by their early season form, shot putter Joe Kovacs and Olympic discus throw champion Sandra Perkovic are poised to produce the infield fireworks at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League on Friday 15 May at the Qatar Sports Club.
President of the Qatar Athletics Federation, Dahlan Al Hamad, said:
Sandra and Joe’s fabulous early season form bode really well for the prospects of some very good performances in the throwing events next weekend. The strong competition they’ll face and the near perfect conditions we expect could result in performances athletes will be chasing all season.’
The pair are among a group announced by organisers, that includes six reigning world or Olympic champions, who will kick-off their 2015 Diamond League campaigns at the opening competition of the 14-meeting series which gets underway for the sixth straight year in the Qatari capital.
Perkovic, also the reigning World champion, has already thrown beyond the formidable 70-metres mark this season, reaching 70.08m at the Croatian winter championships, a throw exactly one metre shy of her career best. No stranger to Doha, the 24-year-old won there in 2013 with a 68.23m meeting record and has claimed the Diamond Race in each of the last three seasons.
Kovacs meanwhile, the latest star to rise from the loaded US shot put stable, threw a personal best 22.35m in Westwood, California in early April, a put that landed him on the doorstep of the event’s all-time top-10. The effort by the 25-year-old American who is now history’s all-time No. 12 was no fluke; on 25 April 2015, he reached 22.06m, an effort nearly a metre better than anyone else in the world has thrown this season.
Perkovic will take on Australia’s Dani Samuels, the 2009 World champion who improved her career best to 67.99 last year, and Melina Robert-Michon, who claimed World silver in 2013 at age 34.
Kovacs will face German David Storl, who at age 24 already has two World titles (2011 and 2013) and an Olympic silver to his name. Another American, Ryan Whiting, knows Doha well, having set the 22.28m meeting record in 2013 en route to winning that season’s Diamond Race. Whiting took back-to-back World indoor titles in 2012 and 2014, defeating Storl at both.
The fan favourite? Quite likely Reese Hoffa, a four-time winner in Doha who won his second Diamond Race title last season at age 37. The 2007 World champion also struck Olympic bronze in 2012.
Sanchez vs Culson and Jackson over the full lap hurdles
Meanwhile, most eyes will be on Felix Sanchez from the Dominican Republic in the men’s 400m hurdles. The 37-year-old has illustrated phenomenal longevity, first with consecutive World titles in 2001 and 2003, followed by Olympic gold in 2004 and eight years later in 2012.
He’ll be facing a strong field that includes Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson, the Diamond Race winner in 2012 and 2013 and two-time World silver medallist and reigning Olympic bronze medallist. Two-time Doha winner and meeting record holder L.J. Van Zyl of South Africa will also be in the field, along with former World champion Bershawn Jackson of the US, also a past winner in Doha. Van Zyl set the meet standard of 48.11 in 2011 while Jackson who has clocked 48.61 this season, the fastest among entrants thus far, was the winner on the Doha track in 2010.
Vesely vs Walcott in the Javelin
There will be no shortage of star power in the men’s javelin throw field, one that features the reigning Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott from Trinidad and Tobago taking on Vitezslav Vesely, the reigning World champion.
Walcott took the world by storm with his surprise victory at the 2012 Olympic Games, less than a month after claiming the World junior title. Last season he finished second at the Commonwealth Games and took third at the Continental Cup
Vesely, who won in Doha in 2013, will nonetheless start as the man to beat. The 2012 and 2013 Diamond Race winner, the Czech, who is coached by world record holder Jan Zelezny, won the Continental Cup last year and took silver at the European championships, and has an 88.34m personal best to his credit from 2012.
No one in the field, however, has thrown as far as Finn Tero Pitkamaki, the 2007 World champion, whose 91.53 career best from 2005 places him seventh among javelin throwers all-time. After a slight lull, his career rebounded in 2013 when he took silver at the World Championships.
And finally, the women’s 3000m Steeplechase features yet another Ethiopia – Kenya battle. The former will be well represented by Sofia Assefa and Hiwott Ayelew, at 9:09.00 and 9:09.61 respectively the fastest in the field. Assefa took bronze at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships while Ayelew finished runner-up at least season’s Continental Cup.
Defending Kenyan honour will be Lidya Chepkurui, the 2013 World silver medallist who set the Doha meeting record of 9:13.75 in 2013.
Tickets are now available online on Q-Tickets website. There are four ticket pricing levels: General Seats and Family Tribune tickets cost QR50, Finish Line tickets cost QR100 and the entrance fee in the V.I.P. Tribune has been fixed at QR200. For those who only wish to attend the post meeting Live Concert, an extra QR100 ticket is required.
For more information, visit the IAAF Doha Diamond League.