31 May, 2019

Six world champions confirmed for Muller Anniversary Games

Six world champions from London 2017 have aligned as a star-studded field emerges for the Müller Anniversary Games.

Founded in 2013 as a legacy to the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, the Anniversary Games is a world-leading athletics meeting held at the iconic London Stadium.

Sizzling sprint fields have already declared across men’s and women’s 100m events.

Triple European champion Dina Asher-Smith (GBR) will take on Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV), Olympic champion Elaine Thompson (JAM) and Dafne Schippers (NED).

European champion Zharnel Hughes (GBR) is joined by European silver medallist and 9.94 man Reece Prescod (GBR) in men’s 100m field, with second fastest-ever man over 100m Yohan Blake (JAM) and Andrew De Grasse (CAN) also on the slate.

And with 50 days to go until the Anniversary Games, six of global icons of athletics have been added to the bill for 20-21 July.

Wayde Van Niekerk (RSA)

Cape Town’s finest returns to the world stage, still the man to beat, with the Muller Anniversary Games forming a crucial part of his comeback season.

The 26-year-old’s dreams came true three years ago when he became two-lap Olympic champion in Rio and smashed Michael Johnson’s 17-year world record.

His last major race was in London as he lived up to top billing at the 2017 World Championships, opening up half a second on the field to claim victory.

Having battled his way back from an injury sustained in October 2017, Wayde will be out to prove a point, with a year to go until Tokyo and Michael Norman targeting his world mark.

In his only other appearance at the Anniversary Games, 44.63 won him gold back in 2015.

Sally Pearson (AUS)

London means the world to Pearson, and the 32-year-old won’t give an inch as she returns for the Muller Anniversary Games.

11 years on from her first Olympic medal in Beijing, the Aussie oozes pedigree and her defining moment came in the capital in 2012 as she stormed to an Olympic record.

She was back the very next year for the inaugural Anniversary Games and won the first two 100m hurdles titles on offer at the star-studded event.

So winning at the London Stadium was muscle memory as she swooped to global glory in 2017, searing home in 12.59 and adding a Diamond Trophy to the haul two weeks later.

Kendra Harrison has been a dominant force at the Anniversary Games, winning the last three titles, meaning Pearson will be keen to reassert her authority. 

Karsten Warholm (GRE)

Everything Warholm touches turns to gold – he’s an irresistible persona and talent who promises to dominate world athletics for some time.

London will remain inextricably linked to his rise after gold at the World Championships, outlasting Olympic champion Kerron Clement to take it in 48.35.

His expression of pure shock and delight went round the world, as well as the Viking hat he donned during celebrations, but there was nothing surprising about his subsequent form.

Warholm claimed European outdoor gold in Berlin with a time of 47.64 and was only a millisecond slower in a searing Anniversary Games debut victory.

British crowds were treated to another masterclass as he added European indoor gold in Glasgow, while an outdoor opening of 47.85 in Stockholm suggests he’ll be in full flight come July.

Mutaz Barshim (QAT)

The London Stadium always comes alive when field events are in session and in Barshim, fans will be treated to a master at work.

Barshim, London 2012 high jump bronze medallist, has a peerless Diamond League record as a three-time Trophy winner who has earned victories around the global circuit.

The confident Qatari star has a fine record in Britain, culminating in a 2.35 triumph at the World Championships which he said he was expecting, but revelled in all the same.

Gold at the Anniversary Games remains a gap on his CV, however, competing in 2013 and 2015 and finishing third on both occasions.

And as the 27-year-old zeroes in on Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m world record, which has stood for a quarter of a century, sparks should fly in Stratford.

Katerina Stefanidi (GRE)

The word legend is overused in sport, but when it comes to Stefanidi it’s a moniker that stands the test of time.

The Greek pole vaulter has been there, seen it and done it, continuing to look imperious long after the 2016 Olympic triumph that saw her clear 4.85 in Rio.

Stefanidi has won three successive Diamond Trophies and is reigning world champion, a title she swooped to in stunning style in London two years ago with a 4.91 clearance.

She is a former Anniversary Games champion, victorious in 2016 after a near miss the previous year.

The 29-year-old has since added European outdoor gold but with Sandi Morris still hot on her heels with a year left until Tokyo, the Muller Anniversary Games is a vital staging post.

Christian Taylor (USA)

Double Olympic champion Taylor, a giant of the pit, returns to London with yet another major title in his sights.

Born in Georgia, the long jumper was out of University of Florida and went on to spend some time at the High Performance Centre at Loughborough under coach Rana Reider.

His familiarity with Britain didn’t end there – far from it – as he blew away the London 2012 field to take gold with a leap of 17.81.

Taylor came back to London five years later to become a world champion and he was equally dominant, half a metre ahead of all rivals aside from compatriot Will Claye.

And as Taylor, Anniversary Games champion back in 2016, plots a path to Tokyo, he couldn’t help but make another pit stop in London.  

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