DOHA, Qatar – Jamaican sprint queen Shericka Jackson will headline the list of English-speaking Caribbean athletes that will feature when this year’s World Athletics Diamond League opens on Friday in the Qatar capital.
The meet at the Qatar Sports Club has attracted arguably its best fields ever, with 15 reigning individual Olympic and world champions, plus a host of major championship medalists taking part, hoping to best the five world leading performances, two meet records, and three area and national records set 12 months ago in this city.
Apart from Jackson, two-time men’s world javelin champion Anderson Peters of Jamaica, women’s 400 meters world bronze medalist and Commonwealth Games champion Sada Williams of Barbados, and Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper of Jamaica are also carded to make their appearance at the meet.
Jackson, the reigning women’s world 200 meters champion, will open her campaign over 100 meters, in an exciting line-up that includes former world 200 champion Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain, and American sprint darling Sha’Carri Richardson.
“After starting my season with a few 400 races, I’m excited to drop down in distance to race over 100 in Doha,” Jackson said ahead of the meet. “I know I’m in good shape after running my quickest 400m since 2019 this year, but now it’s time to sharpen up and run really fast.”
Jackson, last year’s Diamond League 200 champion and world 100 silver medalist, sped to a world-leading 10.82 in her first 100 of the year at the MVP Velocity Fest 13, a World Athletics Continental Tour Challenger event, on April 22 on home soil.
Her time was just 0.11 shy of her personal best over the distance, which she set at the Diamond League meet last August in Monaco, and she will be looking to make another strong statement.
Asher-Smith enjoyed an undefeated indoor season earlier this year, reducing the British 60 record to 7.03, and she will have fond memories of this city after setting the British 100 record with a best of 10.83 when she finished second at the World Championships three years ago.
Jackson has won four of the five previous meetings against Asher-Smith over 100, but they will also have to contend with the colorful Richardson, who breezed to a wind-assisted 10.57 on April 8 in the American city of Miramar.
All of the athletes – including Peters – who reached the podium in the men’s javelin at the World Championships last year will give a sense of déjà vu in this event.
Peters threw 93.07 meters to win the event last year in a thrilling competition with world and Olympic medalist Jakub Vadlejch, who set a personal best of 90.88.
Olympic champion and world silver medalist Neeraj Chopra of India will be hoping to play spoiler and throw past his national record of 89.94 set last year, but consideration must also be given to 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott Trinidad & Tobago to cause a stir.
Interest in the women’s 400 will center upon Williams, and the Jamaican duo of Candice McLeod and Stephanie-Ann McPherson taking aim at Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic, one year after she beat Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas at this event.
Olympic bronze medalist Megan Tapper of Jamaica is expected to feature prominently in the women’s 100 hurdles, where she will take on Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico and 2019 world champion Nia Ali of the United States, European indoor champion Reetta Hurske of Finland, and the rising American duo of Alaysha Johnson and Tonea Marshall.
Jah Nhai Perinchief of Bermuda with a personal best of 17.03 is, however, not expected to feature highly in the men’s triple jump, where the three jumpers who earned the medals at the last Olympics and World Championships take to the runaway.
The Diamond League comprises 14 athletics meets and concluded with a slew of finals across two days on September 16 and 17 in the American city of Eugene in the state of Oregon.