23 April, 2019

10 things to look out for this season

  • © IAAF Diamond League

  • Khalifa International Stadium - the new venue for the Doha Diamond League

  • Stanford University’s Cobb Track & Angell Field, the new venue for the Prefontaine Classic.

There are ten days to go until the tenth IAAF Diamond League season kicks off in Doha on May 3. To mark the moment, here are ten things to look out for on this year's circuit.

1. New stadium in Doha

Ever since the inaugural Diamond League season in 2010, the opening meeting has been held in Doha, at the Qatar Sports Club. 

On the tenth anniversary of the series, that is about to change, as this year's circuit kicks off at the bigger and more bombastic Khalifa International Stadium. The newly renovated arena now holds 48,000 spectators, and will be a key venue at both the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the IAAF World Championships this autumn. 

Yet long before either of those, the Khalifa International will see the starting gun fired on the 2019 Road To The Final, as the world's best athletes descend on Qatar for the Doha Diamond League on May 3. 

2. Kenyan stars in the Khalifa

Whether at the Qatar Sports Club or at the new Khalifa International Stadium, the Kenyan and Ethiopian fans can always be relied upon to create a fantastic atmosphere at the Doha Diamond League. 

The Kenyans in particular should be in full voice this year, as they welcome several of their nation's finest athletes to Qatar. 

Reigning Diamond League Champions Hellen Obiri (3000m), Conseslus Kipruto (3000m SC), Timothy Cheruiyot (1500m)and Emmanuel Korir (800m) will all launch their defence of the Diamond Trophy in Doha. 

With other Kenyan stars such as Elijah Manangoi and world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech also set to compete in Qatar, there is plenty to look forward to for Kenyan fans. 

3. New track in Shanghai

Once Doha is done and dusted, the Road To The Final will move on to Shanghai, where there is also change afoot. 

Though the stadium remains the same at the Diamond League's Chinese meeting, athletes can look forward to a spanking new track at the Shanghai Stadium. 

With the likes of Bingtian Su and Christian Coleman going head to head on May 18, here's hoping that the new track can conjure up some magic in the sprints!

4. New venue for the Prefontaine Classic

Aside from new tracks and new stadiums, we also have a brand new town on the Diamond League circuit this year. 

With Eugene's iconic Hayward Field under renovation for the upcoming IAAF World Championships in 2021, the Prefontaine Classic will switch to a temporary location this season, and be hosted at Stanford University's Cobb Track and Angell Field. 

The venue in Stanford, around 560 miles down the West Coast from Eugene, has previously hosted USATF Championships in 2002 and 2003. 

5. Three contenders for Lavillenie's throne

As the series heades into its tenth season, one athlete remains a cut above the rest when it comes to his Diamond League pedigree. 

Despite having missed out on the Diamond Trophy in recent years, French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie is still the most successful athlete in Diamond League history, having won the trophy seven times. 

Yet Lavillenie increasingly needs to look over his shoulder, with three athletes pushing to catch his record this season. Six-time winners Christian Taylor and Sandra Perkovic both missed the chance to win their seventh Diamond Trophy last season, while Caterine Ibargüen's incredible long jump and triple jump double means she can also now boast of six Diamond Trophies. 

All Diamond League legends in their own right, it remains to be seen whether any of them will draw level with Lavillenie in 2019. 

6. Home stars in Paris

Lavillenie will be one of the two main attractions for home fans when the Road To The Final reaches Paris on August 24. 

Alongside decathlon world record holder Kevin Mayer, Lavillenie will light up the Stade Charléty just a few days before he hopes to regain the Diamond Trophy in the first of two IAAF Diamond League Finals in Zürich.

Though the legendary Frenchman will hope to have secured his place in the Final by then, a home meet in Paris will provide a good chance to throw down the gauntlet to rivals Sam Kendricks and Diamond Trophy holder Timur Morgunov.

7. Asher-Smith takes on the best in London 

Another athlete who can look forward to some raucous home support is Great Britain's Dina Asher-Smith. 

Having challenged for the Diamond Trophy in both the 100m and the 200m last season, Asher-Smith is among the favourites to pick up a gong in the sprints this year. 

In front of her home crowd in London, the British star will face some of the best in the world, with Murielle Ahouré, Dafne Schippers and Elaine Thompson also confirmed for the 100m. 

8. Finals week

As in every year since 2010, the end of the season will see 32 athletes crowned Diamond League Champions across two IAAF Diamond League Finals in Zürich and Brussels. 

Last year's finals were on back-to-back dates, setting the stage for the aforementioned Ibargüen to complete the remarkable feat of bagging two Diamond Trophies in the space of two days. 

This year, any hopeful double champions will once again get a few days to recover between Finals, with the Zürich and Brussels meetings a week apart on August 29 and September 6. 

9. Diamond Debutants

From Omar McLeod to Kendra Harrison, a number of athletes have made a big impact in their first season in the Diamond League. 

This year could see another few emerging stars announce their explosive arrival on the circuit. USA single-lap sensation Sydney McLaughlin is set to compete in the 400m in Shanghai, having broken world junior records in the 400m flat and the 400m hurdles last year. 

All eyes will be on McLaughlin in Shanghai, while fellow rising US stars Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin may also be hoping to make their full Diamond League debuts in 2019, having featured in the pre-programme in Paris last year. 

10. Weekly newsletter

This year, you can stay up to date with everything that is happening on the Road To The Final by signing up to the IAAF Diamond League weekly newsletter.

Click here to subscribe and get your weekly Diamond League fix, with athlete announcements, updated standings and some of the week's crazier stories, delivered directly into your inbox.