11 Juli, 2019

Monaco: Five Questions

  • © Philippe Fitte

Will Miller-Uibo and Taylor hit the ground running on the Road to the Final? Can Kirt thwart the Germans? And who will be first into the final in the hurdles? As the IAAF Diamond League reaches the sunny shores of Monaco, here are five questions which need answering at the Stade Louis II on Friday.

Can Miller-Uibo muscle in on the sprint battle? 

Shaunae Miller-Uibo is one of a select group of athletes to have won the Diamond Trophy twice in the same season, having snaffled both the 200m and 400m titles in 2017. 

Having successfully defended her crown in the 200m last year, Miller-Uibo remains a strong candidate to win what would be a fourth career Diamond Trophy at the end of this season, but to do so, she will need to get points on the board - and fast. 

While several others have picked up victories in a magnificently open competition in the women's sprints, Miller-Uibo is yet to pick up points in either the 200m or the 400m this year.

Against a star-studded 200m field which includes the likes of Dafne Schippers, Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Elaine Thompson, the Bahamian will need victory and maximum points in Monaco if she is to move within touching distance of the top eight and a place in the final. 

She can take heart from her previous exploits in the Stade Louis II. This time last year, she smashed the Diamond League record in the 400m with a PB-busting 48.97.

Will Taylor hit the ground running?

Another superstar yet to get points on the board this season is US triple jump sensation and all-round Diamond League legend Christian Taylor. 

The reigning world and Olympic champion has six Diamond Trophies to his name, having dominated the triple jump for over half a decade before a surprise defeat in last year's Diamond League Final to Portuguese rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo. 

Chasing a record-equalling seventh trophy this season, Taylor currently sits outside the top eight, but can rectify that with a strong performance in Monaco, where he jumped an impressive 17.86 last year.

More magic from Hassan in the mile?

The Brave Like Gabe Mile, named in honour of the late American middle-distance star Gabe Grunewald, promises to be quite the contest, with several big names hoping to secure their place in the final with a substantial points haul in Monaco. 

Gudaf Tsegay is the only woman to have qualified for the women's 1500m final so far. The Ethiopian has amassed 19 points thanks to a series of podium finishes, but will be looking to take her first out-and-out victory on the Road to the Final this year. 

Others, such as Dutch star Sifan Hassan and Morocco's Rababe Arafi, know that only a few points would be enough to push them over the line. 

Arafi won in Shanghai earlier this year, while Hassan has turned more heads with her exploits in the long-distance events, running the fastest 3000m for nearly three decades in Stanford. The Dutchwoman knows what it takes to do the business in the shorter event, however, having won the 1500m Diamond Trophy back in 2015. 

Can Kirt thwart the Germans?

The men's javelin has been something of a Teutonic affair in recent years, with Germans Andreas Hofmann, Johannes Vetter and Thomas Roehler pushing each other to ever greater lengths and often leaving their rivals far behind them. 

So it has been on the Road to the Final thus far, with Hofmann and Vetter taking victories in the first two meetings in Shanghai and Oslo. 

Yet of the eight throwers who will line up in Monaco, only one of them has cleared the 90-metre mark this year and he, however implausibly, is not a German. 

Estonia's Magnus Kirt finished second behind Vetter in Oslo, and could well be a thorn - or perhaps a spear - in the side of the dominant Germans in the Stade Louis II. 

Whatever happens, the terrible trio will certainly have their work cut out: alongside Kirt, the field can boast of French decathlon star Kevin Mayer and Czech thrower Jakub Vadlejch, who sensationally snatched the Diamond Trophy from under the noses of Röhler, Vetter and co. in 2016 and 2017. 

Who will be first into the final in the 100m hurdles?

Three meetings on the Road to the Final so far have produced three separate winners in the women's 100m hurdles, with Christina Clemons, Kendra Harrison and Danielle Williams picking up the flowers - and the eight points - in Oslo, Stockholm and Doha. 

None of them have yet amassed enough points to qualify for the final, however. Nor, indeed, has Sharika Nelvis, whose three podium finishes mean she tops the standings with 20 points despite not yet taking a victory´in 2019. 

That can all change in Monaco. Nelvis will be after her first eight-point haul, while Williams, Clemons, Harrison and others can all hope to nail down their place in the final.