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Rudisha leads Rio golden stars at Shanghai DL

World men’s 800m record-holder David Rudisha eyes title defence when the Rio Olympic Games track and field programme gets underway on Friday.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 30 – World-record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha will  lead a galaxy of international track and field stars for the 2017 Shanghai Diamond League to take place May 13, the second stop on the IAAF’s global circuit of premier one-day meetings.

Rudisha is one of four Beijing 2015 champions who will be looking for some early pointers just three months ahead of his world title defence in London come August. The two-time 800m Olympic champion made his Shanghai Diamond League debut last May and went on to retain the Olympic title in Rio in some style.

This year the Kenyan will be keen to tap into memories of his astonishing world record victory at the 2012 Olympics to spur him on the road to London 2017.

The stellar line-up includes four gold medallists from the Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships and nine event winners from the 2016 Diamond Race, plus an array of last year’s world leading performers.

One of those is sprint hurdler Omar McLeod who produced the world’s fastest time of the season to win the Shanghai meeting’s traditional closing event, the men’s 110m hurdles.

The newly-crowned world indoor champion left two world champions and the world record holder in his wake as he clocked 12.98 to grab the headlines. He went on to win Olympic gold in Rio and will be looking to show similar early season form in Shanghai this May as he gears up for a tilt at the world title in London.

The 22-year-old Jamaican will have to be at his best on 13 May, however, as he faces Spain’s Orlando Ortega, the former Cuban who took the silver medal in Rio and went on to win the 2016 Diamond Race trophy with late season victories in Lausanne and Brussels.

Ortega was second behind world champion David Oliver in Shanghai two years ago but will be looking to make amends in 2017 after being disqualified for a false start last year.

Faith Kipyegon at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene.PHOTO/IAAF

The women’s events will be no less star-studded, not least the women’s 100m which showcases Jamaica’s double Olympic sprint champion, Elaine Thompson, making her first appearance at the Shanghai meeting. Yet another Rio gold medallist, Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas, takes on last season’s Diamond Race winner Stephanie McPherson of Jamaica in the 400m.

A further trio of Olympic champions will grace the women’s distance events: 1500m gold medallist Faith Kipyegon, who broke the Kenyan and meeting record in Shanghai last May.

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Almaz Ayana, who smashed the meeting’s 5000m record two years ago when she clocked the third fastest time ever; and steeplechaser Ruth Jebet, who lowered the Asian and Bahraini record to place second in Shanghai in 2016.

Ayana went on to take the world 5000m title in Beijing and last summer added Olympic 10,000m gold when she smashed the world record in Rio, while Jebet bettered her Shanghai performance three times over four months last summer as she claimed Olympic gold in Brazil and took the world record in Paris.

The 2017 Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 13 May will include 16 events, nine for men (100m, 200m, 800m, 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, discus) and seven for women (100m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m 3000m steeplechase, shot put, discus).

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