Diamond Trophy holder Ivana Vuleta will go head-to-head with Olympic, world and European champion Malaika Mihambo at the Müller Birmingham Diamond League on Saturday 21 May in a women's long jump event that also features world indoor medallists Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (UKR) and Lorraine Ugen (GBR).
Serbia's Vuleta beat Mihambo in the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich last year to claim her third Diamond Trophy and reclaim the title which the German had taken from her in 2019.
Mihambo, a former European age-group champion, won her first major title at the 2018 European Championships and backed that up with global gold and a 7.30m lifetime best in Doha (2019). She won Olympic gold in Tokyo in a compelling competition during which the top eight women leapt beyond 6.80m for the first time in history.
“In spite of my success in Tokyo, last year had many challenges and it was important for me to get totally healthy before building towards the defence of my world and European titles this year,” said the 28-year-old. “Medals are important, but I always want to improve and to jump further. I’ve trained well throughout the winter, and I’ve enjoyed the process, but now I’m looking forward to getting back into competition and Birmingham will provide me with the opportunity to set a benchmark in a very strong field.”
31-year-old Vuleta (née Španović), a three-time European indoor champion, won the European outdoor title in 2016. The Serbian record holder (7.10m) is an Olympic and two-time World Championships bronze medallist. A proven championship performer, she defended her 2018 global indoor title in Belgrade (March 2022) with a season’s best and world-leading leap of 7.06m.
“I owed it to myself to win in Serbia and it meant so much to achieve that in front of a home crowd,” said the 2021 Wanda Diamond League champion. “I’ve enjoyed a successful career so far, but I have big goals still to achieve – not least improving on my World Championships bronze medals – and I hope to get my season off to a strong start in Birmingham.”
Bekh-Romanchuk, the 2021 European indoor long jump champion, won an emotional silver medal at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in the triple jump – only her second ever triple jump competition - prior to finishing sixth in the long jump on the same day. The World and European Championships silver medallist (outdoors) finished fifth in the Tokyo Olympics and has a best of 6.93m.
“My medal in Belgrade was for my country and my people,” said the 26-year-old. “While my heart remains in Ukraine, I cannot lose sight of my dreams. I finished second in the European Championships in 2018 and the World Championships in 2019, and my aim is to improve on both of those positions this summer, a long jump campaign which I’m looking forward to getting underway in Birmingham.”
Ugen, the British national indoor record holder (6.97m) and second on the all-time list with an outright best of 7.05m (2018), was runner-up to Vuleta at the European Indoor Championships in 2017. She took global bronze in Belgrade with a best of 6.82m, matching her podium performance from the World Indoors in Portland 2016.
“I was delighted to take bronze at the World Indoors, but I know I have to be more consistent with my jumps and I’m confident I can achieve that,” said the 30-year-old, who is also targeting podium performances this summer after twice finishing fifth in the World Championships (2015 and 2017) and fourth in the Commonwealth Games (2018). “This is a huge summer for me. I was just outside the medals at my last World Champs and although I won gold as part of the 4 x 100m relay team for England at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, I want to be standing at the top of the podium for my efforts in the long jump. Opening my season with a strong performance in front of a home crowd at the Alexander Stadium will give me confidence ahead of the rest of the season, including - I hope - Eugene for the worlds and a return to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games later in the summer.”