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The Diamond League makes final stop in Brussels on Friday

Brussels marks the last chance for athletes to qualify for the Diamond League final

Photo by: Pat Holleran/Shannon Digital Imaging

The Diamond League stops in Brussels Friday, the last track meet before the final in Zurich next week. Although no Canadian athletes are competing, there are many storylines to follow in Belgium. For many athletes, Brussels marks the last chance to qualify for the Diamond League final in Zurich next week.

2021 Prefontaine Classic: Sifan Hassan Leads the 5000 Meter. Photo: Pat Holleran/Shannon Digital Imaging

The premier race of the event is the women’s 200m. Outspoken U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson will compete against a loaded field of women, featuring 2019 world champion Dina Asher-Smith and the Namibian sprint duo of Beatrice Masilingi and Christine Mboma, who won gold and silver at the World U-20 world championships in August. Shericka Jackson, who won bronze in Tokyo over 100m and beat Richardson in the 100m distance in Eugene, will start in the lane beside Richardson. This race will be a battle of the young stars to come, as all five athletes are under 27.

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The women’s mile won’t fail to entertain as three-time Olympic medallist from Tokyo, Sifan Hassan, will look to break the meet record of 4:16, as the pacers plan to go through the halfway mark in 2:06 (4:12/mile). Hassan will have some company at the front of the pack, with Axamawit Embaye from Ethiopia (4:18.58) and Linden Hall of Australia (4:21.40), who has been running well since placing sixth in the 1,500m at the Olympics.

2021 Prefontaine Classic: Stewart McSweyn and Jakob Ingebrigtsen Lead the Bowerman Mile. Photo: Pat Holleran/Shannon Digital Imaging

In the men’s 1,500m, gold medallist Jakob Ingebrigtsen made headlines earlier this week when he pulled out of the event, ultimately saving his racing legs for Zurich. Australia’s Stewart McSweyn has beaten everyone this season except Ingebrigtsen, who won’t be there. Look for McSweyn to keep the pace fast to wear down his competition. Watch out for Mohamed Katir and Samuel Tefera, who both underperformed at the Olympic Games and will be looking to bounce back before next week’s finals.

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2021 Prefontaine Classic: Letsenbet Gidey Leads the 2 Mile. Photo: Pat Holleran/Shannon Digital Imaging

The women’s 5,000m is loaded with talent. The race will be a duel between Kenya’s Hellen Obiri and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi. Niyonsaba, who had to switch to longer distances due to the World Athletics DSD rule, has had a season to remember, running the second-fastest two-mile in history at the Pre Classic (9:00.75). She is certainly in shape to break her personal best of 14:54. Obiri was second in the 5,000m in Tokyo behind Hassan and finished behind Niyonsaba at the Pre Classic in Eugene.

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Watch the last stop on the Diamond League circuit before the two-day finals in Zurich next week. Action from Brussels will kick off on Friday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. on CBC Sports.