Five world champions, four Olympic gold medallists and two world record-holders are set to compete at the FBK Games – a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting – in Hengelo on Sunday (6).
Pole vault world record-holder Mondo Duplantis will be raring to go after his 23-meet winning streak came to an end at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Gateshead at the end of last month. Battling tough conditions, the 21-year-old from Sweden gave the bar a slight nudge on his final attempt at 5.80m – what would have been a winning height – and it came down, meaning victory went to two-time world champion Sam Kendricks.
Kendricks won’t be in Hengelo, but Duplantis will have one eye on the US vaulter’s meeting record and Dutch all-comers’ record of 5.91m.
Olympic champion Thiago Braz and Dutch vaulter Menno Vloon, who set a national indoor record of 5.96m earlier this year, are also in the line-up.
Double world champion Sifan Hassan will return to the track on which she set a European 10,000m record of 29:36.67 last year and will again contest the 25-lap discpline. The Dutch distance runner has tested her form over a range of distances this year, clocking 8:33.62 for 3000m indoors, followed by 14:35.34 for 5000m and 2:01.54 for 800m outdoors.
Sifan Hassan in the Hengelo rain
Kenya’s Daisy Cherotich, New Zealand’s world finalist Camille Buscomb and Canada’s Andrea Seccafien will all be hoping to emerge from the race with lifetime bests.
World 800m champion Halimah Nakaayi will open her 2021 campaign over her specialist distance. The Ugandan middle-distance runner takes on a quartet of Britons – Laura Muir, Kelly Hodgkinson, Jemma Reekie and Adelle Tracey – as well as Norway’s Hedda Hynne and France’s Renelle Lamote.
In the men’s event, indoor sensation Elliot Giles lines up for his first outdoor 800m of the year, taking on fellow Brits Max Burgin – who set a European U20 record of 1:44.14 in Ostrava last month – and Daniel Rowden. Tony van Diepen, one of the Netherlands’ top performers at the World Athletics Relays Silesia 21, is also in the field.
Recent Montreuil winner Abel Kipsang goes in the men’s 1500m where he’ll take on Uganda’s Ronald Musagala and Britain’s sub-3:30 performer Jake Wightman.
Asher-Smith, Kerley and McLeod set to produce sprint highlights
Although she has raced there only once before, world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith has fond memories of racing in Hengelo.
It is where, as a teenager back in 2015, she set her first senior national record over 100m, clocking 11.02. Six years on from that performance, and having bagged many more records and medals, the world 200m champion will be hoping for a sub-11-second clocking to improve on the 11.35 season’s best she recorded when winning in Gateshead, running in heavy rain and into a -3.1m/s headwind.
Nigeria’s world and Olympic medallist Blessing Okagbare, who has a season’s best of 10.90, and two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers are also in the line-up.
World 4x400m champion Fred Kerley has so far this year produced his most impressive performances at 100m, clocking 9.91 and 9.96 in recent weeks. In Hengelo, however, he’ll step back up to his specialist 400m discipline and will aim to improve on the 44.60 season’s best he recorded in Doha last week.
Fred Kerley nabs his first career Diamond League victory in Rome
All four hurdles races in Hengelo promise plenty of excitement.
Olympic champion Omar McLeod, racing in Europe for the first time since September 2019, leads the 110m hurdles field. The Jamaican, who has a season’s best of 13.11, will take on European indoor champion Wilhem Belocian, who will be making his 2021 outdoor debut, and USA’s Devon Allen.
World bronze medallist Abderrahman Samba takes on Olympic bronze medallist Yasmani Copello in the men’s 400m hurdles, while European indoor champion Femke Bol contests the women’s event in what will be her first outdoor race over barriers this year.
World leader Jasmine Camacho-Quinn leads the entries in the women’s 100m hurdles and will be keen to make up for her recent appearance in Jacksonville where she was disqualified for a false start.
The women’s discus will be a clash of three global champions as Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic faces world champion Yaime Perez and 2015 world champion Denia Caballero.
Sandra Perkovic, winner of the discus at the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb
The three women were all in action in Doha last week with Perez coming out on top in a close contest. The Cuban threw 63.75m while Perkovic managed 63.60m and Caballero recorded 63.00m. Perkovic went on to win in Montreuil with a season’s best of 66.11m, but the Croatian still trails Perez (68.99m) on this year’s world list.
All three medallists from this year’s European Indoor Championships – Maksim Nedasekau, Gianmarco Tamberi and Thomas Carmoy – will renew their high jump rivalry in Hengelo. Olympic champion Derek Drouin and Oceania record-holder Brandon Starc add further depth to the field.
Elsewhere, African champion Ruswahl Samaai features in the men’s long jump, Botswana’s Isaac Makwala leads the men’s 200m entries and Belgian record-holder Cynthia Bolingo starts as favourite in the women’s 400m.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics