Sha'Carri Richardson seeks return to form at Brussels Diamond League

The American sprinter runs the 200m with Olympic champs Sifan Hassan, Mondo Duplantis and Nafi Thiam among the headliners in action on Friday.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The last push for points ahead of next week's Zurich Diamond League Final takes place on Friday (3 September) at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels.

Despite late withdrawals including Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen (both fatigue) and Elaine Thompson-Herah (tendon discomfort), there remains a stellar cast in place with close to 30 medallists from the recent Olympic Games.

After missing Tokyo, Sha’Carri Richardson runs in the 200m against Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma, reigning world champion Dina Asher-Smith and Jamaica's double Olympic medallist Shericka Jackson.

Sifan Hassan and Mondo Duplantis head the all-star cast with the former running the mile having shelved her bid to break Letesenbet Gidey's 10,000m world record.

Meanwhile, Duplantis returned to winning ways in Paris on Saturday after a rare defeat in Lausanne.

They are among nine gold medallists in the King Baudoin Stadium with two - discus champions Valarie Allman and Daniel Stahl - having already competed in a special event at nearby Bois de la Cambre park on Wednesday.

Home favourite Nafi Thiam, fresh from successfully defending her heptathlon title in Tokyo, ends her season in the high jump against Olympic champion Mariya Lasitskene.

There is also a men's 100m to savour with Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley up against the world's fastest man this year, Trayvon Bromell, and Michael Norman.

Brussels Diamond League 2021: stars to watch

Here are some of the athletes to watch at the Brussels Diamond League in Belgium, which takes place on 3 September.

1: Sha'Carri Richardson, Christine Mboma in stacked 200m

The women's 200m should be a cracking contest even after the late withdrawal of Olympic hero Elaine Thompson-Herah.

The runner set to attract most headlines is Sha'Carri Richardson who runs just her third 200m of the year.

After winning the 100m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, the 21-year-old served a one-month ban for cannabis use which ruled her out of the Tokyo Games.

Richardson disappointed in her hugely-anticipated meeting with the three Jamaican 100m medallists from Tokyo - Thompson, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and Shericka Jackson - at the Eugene Diamond League, trailing home in ninth as Thompson-Herah set the second-fastest time in history.

Now the Dallas native returns to Diamond League action knowing that she needs to win to qualify for next week's Diamond League Final in Zurich.

That will be no easy task with 100m bronze medallist Jackson hoping to put her 200m setback behind her.

The 27-year-old made a terrible misjudgment at the end of her heat, and failed to reach the semi-finals.

Another athlete hoping for better is world champion Dina Asher-Smith who was ruled out of the Tokyo 200m by a hamstring injury.

She did help Britain to 4x100m bronze behind Jackson and Jamaica, but the 25-year-old will be keen to show what she can do in her premier event.

Also lining up is Namibia's Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma who showed she remains in excellent form with victory at the U20 World Championship in Nairobi two weeks ago.

Mboma clocked 21.84 that day, just outside her world junior record of 21.81 set in the Tokyo final.

The track in the King Baudoin Stadium does not have a reputation for fast times, and the women will have to go some to challenge Merlene Ottey's meet record of 21.64 dating back to 1991.

Christine Mboma line Tokyo
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

2: Mondo Duplantis eyes six-metre-plus performance

Twelve months ago, pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis became the first man to clear six metres in Brussels.

He will be hoping to go higher after bouncing back from a shock defeat in Lausanne with victory in Paris.

Tokyo silver medallist Chris Nilsen got the better of the Swede in Lausanne, but the American was only third on Saturday with EJ Obiena of the Philippines second courtesy of a new national record of 5.91m.

Duplantis had three failures at what would have been a new world record of 6.19m in Paris, and it could be that he tries again to break his own mark set in Glasgow just over 18 months ago.

After missing Tokyo due to a positive Covid test, reigning world champion Sam Kendricks will be keen to challenge Duplantis once more after finishing second in Lausanne and fourth in Paris.

Duplantis Paris
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

3: Sifan Hassan is human, steps down to mile

After her incredible six races in eight days which yielded two golds and a bronze in Tokyo, you would be forgiven for thinking Sifan Hassan might need a break.

But the Dutchwoman keeps on racing, winning the 5000m at the Eugene Diamond League before planning to regain the 10,000m world record from Tokyo bronze medallist Letesenbet Gidey.

Hassan smashed Almaz Ayana's world record from Rio 2016 by over 10 seconds in Hengelo in June, but Ethiopian Gidey went five seconds quicker on the same track just two days later.

However, all that racing has finally caught up with the 28-year-old who has switched to the mile saying she does not feel she would be able to run a good 10,000m.

The King Baudoin Stadium holds happy memories for Hassan, who broke the one-hour world record there 12 months ago.

And she could attempt to break her own mile world record of 4:12.33 set in Monaco in July 2019.

Laura Muir, who took silver in front of Hassan in the 1500m in Tokyo, is scheduled to run the 800m in Brussels with Gidey contesting the 5000m.

Hassan Eugene
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

4: Fred Kerley headlines men's 100m, wants to be "a legend like Usain Bolt"

Two converted 400m runners and the fastest man in the world this year are after bragging rights in Brussels.

Tokyo 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley has not won in the short sprint since May's Ostrava Golden Spike, but did run a personal best of 19.79 to pip Kenny Bednarek in the Paris 200m on Saturday.

Speaking at Monday's media conference, the 26-year-old discussed his decision to make the switch from the 400m.

"My trainer and I were convinced that medals were a possibility in every sprinting event. For me the season really took off at the trials and that is why I am in the shape of my life."

Kerley, Wayde van Niekerk and Michael Norman, who also lines up on Friday, are the only three men to have gone sub-10 for 100m, sub-20 for 200m and sub-44 for 400m.

The American added, "I want to be the best at all three distances. What makes someone the best, maybe a world record? I know I have got the potential to break the 400m record.

"I want to be a legend, like Usain Bolt; I see him as a big brother. To me he will always have a spot on the podium of the greatest of all time, he is a big example."

Norman was fifth in the Eugene Diamond League 100m behind Andre De Grasse with Kerley second and Trayvon Bromell fourth.

After disappointment in Tokyo, where he failed to reach the final, Bromell will be hoping to return to the form which saw him clock 9.77 in Florida in June.

Kerley flag Tokyo
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Brussels Diamond League 2021 schedule

All times are CEST local (UTC+2)

Friday 3 September

7.20pm Men's Pole Vault

7.39pm Men's 800m (non-Diamond League)

7.50pm Women's High Jump

8.03pm Men's 400m

8.11pm Women's Mile

8.23pm Men's 100m

8.30pm Women's 5000m

8.40pm Men's Long Jump

8.56pm Women's 100m hurdles

9.04pm Women's 200m

9.13pm Men's 1500m

9.27pm Women's 400m (non-DL)

9.38pm Men's 400m hurdles

9.51pm Women's 800m

How to watch the Brussels Diamond League

The Brussels Diamond League will be streamed live in a number of countries on the Diamond League YouTube page.

In other territories, local rights-holding broadcasters will show either live coverage or highlights of the action.

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