LONDON – The long jump duel between South African Luvo Manyonga and Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarría (Cuba) is one of several high-powered IAAF Diamond League clashes at the Mueller Anniversary Games in London on Saturday and Sunday.
On paper, the two are virtually inseparable: Manyonga has jumped 8.35m and Echevarría 8.34m.
The two-day meeting has attracted 20 reigning world and 10 reigning Olympic individual and relay champions to the British capital's iconic Olympic Stadium.
Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan has neither title to her name - yet - but at the moment though, she's the sport's biggest name after her sensational 4:12.33 world record run in the mile in Monaco last Friday, breaking a mark which had stood for 23 years.
In London, she'll be racing in the 5 000m on Sunday, a distance that's arguably even closer to home for the Dutchwoman who in recent years has produced a record of extraordinary range.
Is her 14:22.34 European record in jeopardy? Her 8:18.48 run at the Prefontaine Classic on 30 June, another continental record that elevated her to No 4 all-time over that distance, would indicate that it is.
The field includes three other women who have run faster than 14:30, including world champion Hellen Obiri whose 14:18.37 rates the Kenyan as the fourth-fastest ever.
And after a tumble to the track in Stockholm led to a distant 12th place finish in that Diamond League contest, Obiri will be eager to make amends in London.
On Saturday 800m ace Nijel Amos of Botswana will also return to the track after his sensational 1:41.89 run in Monaco, the second-fastest of his career - behind the 1:41.73 he sped to at the 2012 Olympics on this London track.
Expect a Kenyan armada consisting of Ferguson Rotich (second in Monaco in 1:43.54), Lausanne winner Wycliffe Kinyamal (1:43.78 SB) and 2018 sensation Emmanuel Korir (1:44:01 SB) to give chase.
Korir clocked his 1:42.05 personal best in London last year.
Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, the 2016 Olympic and 2017 world champion, made her eagerly anticipated return from maternity leave a successful one with a 3:59.04 win at the Prefontaine Classic 18 days ago.
Her competitors will include European champion Laura Muir, rising Ethiopian star Gudaf Tsegay, German Konstanze Klosterhalfen and Shanghai Diamond League winner Rababe Arafi.
In the 400m, Nigerian-born Bahraini runner Salwa Eid Naser will start as the favourite to capture her eighth 400m victory of the season, and 12th straight over the distance.
Thirteen days ago, the 21-year-old scorched to a 49.17 win in Lausanne, the second-fastest of her career.
But she was chased to the line by Aminatou Seyni, the 22-year-old from Niger who clipped more than a second from her lifetime best in that race, finishing just 0.02 behind the Bahraini.
With several of the leading US sprint hurdlers opting to focus on next week’s national championships, the focus in the women’s 100m hurdles will fall on Nigeria's Tobi Amusan who will return to the track four days after her 12.49 victory in Sotteville-lès-Rouen.
This performance elevated the 22-year-old to third on the season's list.
The men's 100m will round out the first day's action on the Diamond League programme. The favourites include African champion Akani Simbine, Olympic 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse and Great Britain's Zharnel Hughes, the European champion.
A strong field has been assembled for the men's 5 000m, headed at the moment by Ethiopia's Hagos Gebrhiwet, winner of the 10,000m World Championships trials race in Hengelo on Wednesday where he clocked a world-leading 26:48.95.
Others to watch include Kenyan 10km star Rhonex Kipruto, who'll be making his track debut over the distance.
African News Agency (ANA)