World indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba from Burundi will take on 2013 world champion and three-time Diamond Race winner Eunice Sum from Kenya in the women’s 800m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Morocco on 22 May.
Providing tough competition for the two African rivals is another global champion – the reigning world outdoor 800m champion – Marina Arzamasova of Belarus, who outsprinted Eunice Sum down the home straight to win gold in Beijing last year.
Including Arzamasova and Sum, the field contains six of the eight finalists from Beijing 2015 World Championships: Morocco’s Rababe Arafi, Britain’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, European bronze medallist Joanna Jozwik and last year’s Rabat winner Renelle Lamote.
The 2012 European champion Lynsey Sharp and world 1500m finalist Malika Akkaoui add further quality to the line-up.
Organisers of the Meeting International Mohammed VI confirmed in a press release that five more Diamond Race winners from last year will be in action at the first IAAF Diamond League meeting on African soil in Rabat.
Following last week’s announcement of the participation of Nijel Amos and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, it means seven of last year’s Diamond Race winners have now been confirmed for the newest meeting on the IAAF Diamond League circuit.
Diamond Race steeplechase winner Jairus Birech returns to Rabat following his victory at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium last year.
Birech will face meeting record-holder Paul Kipsiele Koech, world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto and two-time Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi.
Zuzana Hejnova, twice a winner of the world title and the Diamond Race, leads a 400m hurdles field that includes five finalists from last year’s World Championships.
The Czech star will be up against world bronze medallist Cassandra Tate, Jamaican champion Janieve Russell, Danish record-holder Sara Petersen, African champion Wenda Nel and world indoor 400m champion Kemi Adekoya.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Diamond Race winner and 2013 world champion David Oliver takes on 2011 world champion Jason Richardson, 2015 US indoor champion Aleec Harris and 2014 world indoor bronze medallist Garfield Darien of France.
Panama’s 2015 Diamond Race winner Alonso Edward is part of a 200m field that includes world 100m bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell, 2013 world bronze medallist Curtis Mitchell, Asian record-holder Femi Ogunode and Moroccan record-holder Aziz Ouhadi, who won at this meeting in 2013.
Having won over 3000m in Rabat last year with an African all-comers’ record of 8:22.22, world champion Almaz Ayana will contest the 5000m in the Moroccan capital this year.
The Ethiopian will line up against fix of the top six finishers from last year’s World Championships, including world silver medallist Senbere Teferi, 2013 world silver medallist Mercy Cherono, Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot and Commonwealth silver medallist Janet Kisa.
Two of the men in the 400m field joined the illustrious sub-44-second club last year.
Botswana’s Isaac Makwala and Jamaican record-holder Rusheen McDonald, with respective PBs of 43.72 and 43.93, will join the likes of US champion David Verburg and Olympic 4x400m champion Chris Brown of The Bahamas in chasing the meeting record of 45.06.
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
- 6 May – Doha, QAT
- 14 May – Shanghai, CHN
- 22 May – Rabat, MAR
- 28 May – Eugene, USA
- 2 Jun – Rome, ITA
- 5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
- 9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
- 16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
- 15 Jul – Monaco, MON
- 22-23 Jul – London, GBR
- 25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
- 27 Aug – Paris, FRA
- 1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
- 9 Sep – Brussels, BEL