‘Tis the season, as the Diamond League action returns for the first of 14 meets of the 2022 season on Friday afternoon from Doha, Qatar. There will be four Canadian Olympians looking to bring the early-season heat in Qatar: Olympic gold medallist Andre De Grasse, Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake and Marco Arop.
— Wanda Diamond League (@Diamond_League) May 12, 2022
Some of the major storylines for Friday’s races are the men’s 200m, which will feature the Olympic gold medallist, De Grasse, and bronze medallist Noah Lyles; the women’s 3,000m, with 1,500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon vs. the 2021 Diamond League champion from Burundi, Francine Niyonsaba; the men’s 800m, with Olympic silver medallist from Kenya, Ferguson Rotich, U.S. superstar Donovan Brazier and Canadian up-and-comer Arop. Lastly, the men’s 1,500m, with Olympic silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and the return of Australia’s Stewart McSweyn.
Edmonton’s Arop has been quiet since leaving it all out on the line in the 800m final at the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade. Arop led the final until he ran out of gas in the final straightaway. The 23-year-old middle-distance runner has had a lot of success early in his career, as he’s currently ranked third in the world by World Athletics ahead of the 2022 outdoor season. After coming up short of his goal of the Olympic final in Tokyo, Arop chalked up several wins on the Diamond League circuit last summer. But the sky is the limit for this aspiring young athlete.
Arop will be up against some of the world’s best in Doha on Friday, as North American 800m record holder Donovan Brazier of the U.S. looks to bounce back in 2022 after missing the Olympic Games last summer. Brazier holds a personal best of 1:42.34, but he was far away from that form last season. Brazier focused on the 200 and 400 during the 2022 indoor season to improve his sprint speed on that first lap of the 800. Besides Brazier, Arop will get the chance to face the Olympic silver medallist, Rotich, who is a great tactical and fast 800m runner. Rotich tends not to lead most races, but will often use the sit and kick strategy to win.
The men’s 800m will kick off at 12:50 p.m. E.T.
Besides at the Olympic Games or World Championships, we rarely get to see three women who are the best athletes in their discipline go at it over another distance. Well, that’s what track fans will get on Friday afternoon as Olympic 1,500m champion Kipyegon, 2,000m world record holder Niyonsaba and 2019 world champion and 3,000m steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya will battle over 3,000m. Kipyegon raced 10 times in 2021, and she won all 10 races. She illustrated in Tokyo and at the Eugene DL that she’s world-class and on another level compared to her competitors. Besides constantly beating Sifan Hassan in the metric mile, she hasn’t stepped up to the 3,000m to face world record holders since 2015.
The 3,000m is the perfect distance for Niyonsaba, who ran a blistering 8:19.08 world lead at the Paris DL last season, and showed her strength over 2,000m, setting the world record of 5:21.56. Niyonsaba is currently not allowed to compete under the female classification in events between 400m and the mile due to World Athletics regulations on XY DSD athletes with naturally high testosterone levels. Last season, she showed that she can be dominant no matter the distance, and it will be a tough test against Kipyegon. Chepkoech of Kenya has to feel as if the ball is in her court tomorrow afternoon; she is the current world champion in the 3,000mSC and also holds the world record. She can hang at the front and will most likely need to push the pace from the get-go to wear down the likes of Kipyegon and Niyonsaba.
The women’s 3,000m will kick off at 12:17 p.m. E.T.
The men’s 200m
Three of the four Canadians competing in Doha will be in the men’s 200m. The field is loaded with two of the three Olympic 200m medallists from Tokyo (De Grasse and Lyles), along with Olympic 100m silver medallist from the U.S., Fred Kerley. De Grasse has already opened up his season with a few relay races down in Florida, but this will be his first against world-class competition. Outside of De Grasse, Canada’s Aaron Brown had a great start to the 2022 season, opening up with a 20.05 at the Kip Keino Classic last weekend in Kenya, marking his fastest season opener in recent years.
Another Canadian to watch out for is Jerome Blake, who has taken down the likes of Kerley and Lyles over the 200m already this season, setting personal bests in the 200m (20.04) and 100m (10.00) along the way. This 200m race will certainly be one for the ages, with six men boasting sub-20 personal bests.
The men’s 200m will kick off at 1:10 p.m. E.T.
The men’s 1,500m
The Olympic silver medallist, Timothy Cheruiyot, will race for the first time since winning the Diamond League in this event last September. In his last three appearances in Doha, he’s sub 3:33 and is likely to push the pace in this fast, world-class field. This race will also mark Australia’s McSweyn’s return to international competition, after having a long battle with COVID-19, which kept him out of the 2022 indoor season. Another athlete to keep your eye on is the 19-year-old phenom, Kamar Etiyang of Kenya, who beat Cheruiyot at the Kenyan Olympic Trials last year.
Another athlete that is coming into the race in form is Abel Kipsang, who ran a world-leading 3:31.01 at the Kip Keino Classic last weekend. Kipsang is out for redemption after finishing fourth in the 1,500m at the Tokyo Olympics. There will also be a lot of question marks around Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha and if he can return to his 2019 form. Two weeks ago, Kejelcha ran 12:53 over 5K on the roads, so it’s clear he’s in shape to contend with this fast field.
The men’s 1,500m will kick off at 1:20 p.m. E.T.
How to watch
You can watch all the Doha Diamond League action on CBC Sports on Friday, May 13 between noon and 2 p.m. E.T.