After the excitement of last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, a new outdoor athletics season begins in earnest with the Diamond League opener in Doha, Qatar.
While new stars are sure to come to prominence over the next year, many of last year’s greatest storylines continue in Doha, as returning Olympic champions and world record holders meet for the first time in 2022.
This outdoor season culminates with the World Athletics Championships that take place from July 15-24 in Oregon, USA. But there’s plenty of action to come before that, starting with the season debut of the prestigious Diamond League, where the world’s best track and field athletes will be looking to put down markers for the year ahead.
Here are six stars you won’t want to take your eyes off when the action begins in the Qatar Sports Club on 13 May.
READ MORE: Diamond League season preview
Mondo Duplantis, men’s pole vault
The first name on the list needs little to no introduction. Having raised the bar - both literally and figuratively - in terms of what is deemed possible in his sport, Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis has two things on his mind this season - more medals and more world records.
Coming off of a stellar indoor season in which he set not one but two world records, Duplantis will be looking to transfer his form to the outdoor competitions. The reigning indoor and outdoor world record holder added Olympic gold to his long list of accolades at Tokyo 2020, and enters Doha as the defending Diamond League champion.
If you think all of this success could lead to a lack of motivation, think again. Duplantis is on the hunt for more medals, including one available to him this season that he has never won before - World Championships gold.
Is there a better place to get his season off to a flyer than in Doha, the city where he settled for silver at the last World Championships? And in the form he’s in, who would bet against yet another outdoor world record falling into his hands.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, women’s 400m
After the drama of a Rio 2016 400m final where she dived (or fell) over the line to win gold, Shaunae Miller-Uibo proved her championship credentials by winning a second 400m title at Tokyo 2020.
The 28-year-old Bahamian lines up in Doha with a personal best (48.36 seconds) which is over a second better than all but two of her competitors in Qatar.
Miller-Uibo also has something of a score to settle this year, after she finished second in the last World Championships in Doha in 2019, third in 2017 in London and second again in 2015 in Beijing.
Doha represents the perfect opportunity to show the world she’s in the form of her life, with the Words in Oregon on the horizon.
Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi, men’s high jump
One of the greatest storylines from Tokyo 2020 begins a new chapter in Doha, as high jumpers Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi face off against each other for the first time since they shared Olympic gold last summer.
Having built a friendship that saw them console and encourage each other through their darkest, injury-blighted moments, they found themselves tied for first place during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic final.
When an official asked them whether they wanted to jump-off to see who would win gold, Barshim asked him, "Can we have two golds?"
The official agreed and one of the most memorable tales in Olympic history was written.
Now the two meet again in Doha - as dual gold medallists - with another season ahead of them and another part of their story to tell.
Dina Asher-Smith, women’s 200m
It’s safe to say that Dina Asher-Smith’s 2021 season didn’t go to plan. The reigning world 200m champion was injured in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020 and was forced to withdraw from her favourite 200m event after pulling up in the 100m.
But Doha represents a chance for the British record holder to get straight back on track, as she revisits the city of her 2019 World Championships triumph in a year where she will also be looking to defend that title.
At this week’s Diamond League, she will face two athletes with a faster PB than her - Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson and the USA’s Gabrielle Thomas. But you always have the impression that when injury-free, Asher-Smith is capable of matching or besting anyone on her day.
Can she get her outdoor season off to a winning start? We’ll have the answer tomorrow.
Faith Kipyegon, women’s 3000m
The world may be more used to seeing Kenya’s double Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon racing to gold in the 1500m, so the fact she lines up in the 3000m in Doha is an intriguing prospect.
However, perhaps this is all part of a wider plan as the 28-year-old has already stated that she hopes to move up to 5000m when she has achieved all she has to achieve at 1500m.
Kipyegon also has one World Championships gold and two silvers to her name, with the last coming in 2019 where she finished second in Doha.
She is set to return to the 1500m for the Golden Gala in Rome on June 9, so this foray at 3000m will be something to truly savour.