Weltklasse Zürich 2019 – Event by Event
Athletics pundits predict a bright future for Noah Lyles (USA). The 22-year-old athlete already claimed two IAAF Diamond League titles in 2017 and 2018 in the 200m. This year, it may be time for a first 100m Diamond Trophy. A season’s best of 9.86 and a 200m win in Paris in 19.65 indicate that he is ready for it. After competing on track tomorrow night, he will return to the arena’s stage during the closing ceremony to perform the official Weltklasse Zürich song «Souvenir», together with pole vaulter Sandi Morris and the band Baba Shrimps.
Meeting record holder Yohan Blake (JAM) is back at Letzigrund Stadium after seven years. In 2012, he won the 100m in 9.76. Among others, the 2011 world champion will be facing the reigning world champion – Justin Gatlin (USA). The Zurich crowd will be excited to see national record holder Alex Wilson pushing off the starting block.
Nijel Amos (BOT) won the IAAF Diamond League meeting of Monaco in 1:41.89, a new world leading time, last month. Since 2012, no one had run a sub-1:42 race. Amos’ time equalled his result at the London Olympic Games, where he had taken silver. The 25-year-old intends to collect his fourth Diamond Trophy in Zurich. The only other 800m athlete with a sub 1:43-season’s best is Ferguson Rotich. The Kenyan won the IAAF Diamond League race in London, and is a serious opponent for Amos.
Selemon Barega (ETH) returns to Zurich as a defending IAAF Diamond League champion. His personal best of 12:43.02 and an impressive finish make him a favourite for the 5000m again, this year. His fellow countrymen Haile Bekele, current world leader (12:52.98), and two-time indoor world champion Yomif Kejelcha will try their best to make things as hard as possible for Barega. The current 5000m season’s best of half marathon European champion Julien Wanders is 13:13.84. The native of Switzerland’s French-speaking part will give it his all to improve it tomorrow night.
The last individual race of the Weltklasse Zürich night will feature a brand new European record holder. Karsten Warholm (NOR) improved the Continental record twice this year, most recently in London (47.12). Up-and-comer Rai Benjamin (USA), however, is closing in on him with a gap of only four hundredths and a win in Stanford. The two will fight an exciting duel. Kyron McMaster (IVB) is a two-time IAAF Diamond League champion. On both occasions, in 2018 and 2017, he defeated Warholm convincingly. Zurich’s Kariem Hussein managed to secure his spot on Switzerland’s team for the Doha world championships recently. Running in the IAAF Diamond League final race will be a particular treat for him.
The line-up for the men’s high jump competition will be led by Ilya Ivanyuk (ANA). With a season’s best of 2.33m, he is currently the strongest athlete. After fighting a ligament injury, world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) squeezed into the field of the twelve top jumpers and therefore the entry list for the final event in Zurich at the last minute. He is hitting top form in time for the world championships in his home country.
Juan Miguel Echevarria is 22 years old and Cuba’s somewhat eccentric 2018 world indoor champion. He won two IAAF Diamond League 2019 competitions, including Lausanne. Beating him will be a serious challenge for 2017 world champion Luvo Manyonga. Echevarria plans on snatching the Diamond Trophy from his South African colleague. But the two should also keep an eye on current world leader Zarck Visser (RSA/8.41m), who will definitely not stand idly by the duel between the two.
Armand “Mondo“ Duplantis (SWE) is the rising star of pole vault. The 19-year-old athlete, who grew up in the US, took gold at the European Athletics Championships last year. He cleared 6.05m in the process then went on to add several 6-m jumps in 2019. He is looking forward to the showdown with his colleagues, the world’s best pole vaulters. They include world champion and current world leader Sam Kendricks (USA/6.06m) and Piotr Lisek (POL). Lisek will clearly enter the final event with a lot of confidence after winning the two most recent IAAF Diamond League competitions. In Monaco, he had cleared 6.02m.
The popularity of the men’s javelin throw has seen quite a boost in recent years. And three German athletes have contributed much to the success of the event. They all can throw a javelin further than 90m, and they all confirmed their appearance in Zurich: Olympic champion Thomas Röhler, world champion Johannes Vetter, and IAAF Diamond League champion Andreas Hoffmann. Hofmann leads the trio as far as season’s bests are concerned (89.65m), Röhler won the most IAAF Diamond League competitions this year, and Vetter just made an impressive 89.28m comeback after an injury. Another favourite for the competition is current world leader Magnus Kirt (EST/90.61m).
Local hero Mujinga Kambundji’s new national record earned her a wild card for this year’s Weltklasse Zürich race. She clocked 22.26 at the national championships in Basel on Saturday, after winning the 100m final in 11.00 a day earlier. The line-up for the race in Zurich is an all-star cast of Olympic, world, and European champions. Elaine Thompson (JAM) took Olympic gold in Rio in 2016, and she is leading the season’s top list (22.00). Shaunea Miller-Uibo (BAH), a 400m specialist, is the defending IAAF Diamond League champion. Other athletes to watch out for include 2015 and 2017 world champion Dafne Schippers (NED) and triple 2018 European champion Dina Asher-Smith (GBR).
Bahrain‘s Salwa Eid Naser will be hard to beat. So far, none of her colleagues could defeat her this season. The 21-year-old athlete, who was born in Nigeria and was called Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu, collected four wins over the course of the IAAF Diamond League season. The margin separating her from the second-fastest athlete entered for the Zurich race (Shakima Wimbley/USA) amounts to more than a second. No wonder, Salwa Eid Naser counts on winning her first Diamond Trophy tomorrow night.
Sifan Hassan (NED) recently set a much-noticed new world record in the mile (4:12.33), and she ran the fastest 1500m race of the summer. Her leading 3:55.47, however, is only 17 hundredths of a second faster than the season’s best of world record holder Genzebe Dibaba (ETH). A breathtaking duel is definitely in the cards. Konstanze Klosterhalfen would like to turn it into a three-way fight. The German talent ran the sixth-fastest 3000m race of all times this year, clocking 8:20.07. U20 European champion Delia Sclabas will represent Switzerland in this race.
The 2019 season produced a new world record in the women’s 400m hurdles. Dalilah Muhammad (USA) improved the 16-year-old record to 52.20 at the US trials one month ago. Clearly, whoever wants to win the Zurich race, will have to beat her. 20-year-old rising star Sydney McLaughlin, who suspended her studies in order to pursue a professional athletics career, is the only other athlete to run a sub 53-second race so far, this year. Reigning European champion Lea Sprunger (SUI) would like to use the race in front of her home crowd to improve her own season’s best after experiencing a difficult start into the season.
Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) not only won three out of four IAAF Diamond League races this year, she also leads the top list with a margin of more than eight seconds. Her season’s best: 8:55.58. In addition, she holds the world record (8:44.32). All in all, Chepkoech, who had placed fourth at the 2016 Olympic Games, is considered the top favourite for this year’s Diamond Trophy. Her toughest opponents include world champion Emma Coburn (USA), and Norah Jeruto, the second-fastest steepler of this season. They will both want their say in the race.
Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela is the only triple jumper who jumped further than 15 m this summer. She did so twice, once in Lima (15.11m) and once in Paris (15.05m). In addition, the Olympic silver medallist from 2016 and 2017 world champion won two IAAF Diamond League competitions. She will be challenged by Liadagmis Povea (CUB) and Shanieka Ricketts (JAM), who both have a season’s best of 14.77m.
The eight top performers of the IAAF Diamond League are the eight top athletes in the world’s top list. And all of them will compete at Letzigrund Stadium tomorrow night. Lijiao Gong of China (175cm/110kg), 2017 world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist may be setting the tone for the competition. She currently leads the world’s top list with 19.84m. Closest on her heels are Chase Ealey (USA/19.67m) and Danniel Thomas-Dodd (JAM/19.55). Both athletes could absolutely win the competition in Zurich.
Competing in Switzerland seems to suit Christin Hussong. Lausanne’s Athletissima was the first IAAF Diamond League triumph for the German athlete. In Zurich, however, there will be four throwers who launched their javelin further than 67m this year, including Huihui Lyu (CHN), the current world leader with a season’s best of 67.98m. The season of two-time Olympic and reigning world champion Barbora Špotáková has had its ups and downs so far. She will look to improve on that. Heptathlete and Swiss national record holder (58.31m) Géraldine Ruckstuhl will be competing with a wild card.