The Wanda Diamond League returns this week with the second meeting of the 2023 season in Rabat. After a spate of world class performances at the season opener in Doha earlier this month, there are more spills and thrills in store as the world's best athletes descend on Morocco. Here are five things to look out for at the Meeting International Mohammed VI on Sunday.
Rabat: Five things to look out for
Kerley vs Bromell
Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs may have pulled out of Sunday's meeting, but the men's 100m will be a clash of the titans nonetheless as Americans Fred Kerley and Trayvon Bromell go head to head in a high class field. Reigning Diamond League champion Bromell is hoping to defend his title this season, while world champion Kerley is out to regain the Diamond Trophy which he last won in 2021. The two US stars will be up against it in Rabat, with Jamaican legend Yohan Blake and South Africa's seasoned Diamond League campaigner Akani Simbine also on the entry lists. Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala, who currently leads the world list in 2023 with 9.84, is also hoping to pick up his first ever Diamond League win.
Title defenders in town
For many athletes, Rabat will be the first chance to pick up points on this year's Road to the Final, and there will be several big names hoping to get their title defence off to a winning start in Morocco. Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen claimed his first ever Diamond Trophy in the 1500m last year and will be out to add Rabat to the growing list of Diamond League cities where he has picked up victories. Ukraine's Yaroslava Mahuchikh is in fine form as she begins her campaign in the women's high jump, having cleared 2.00m in Nairobi earlier this month. Like Ingebrigtsen, she too won her first Diamond Trophy in 2022 and is hoping to make it two successive titles this summer. The same goes for Grant Holloway, who takes on the likes of Hansle Parchment, Devon Allen and Rasheed Broadbell in the 110m hurdles.
El Bakkali on home soil
Moroccan 3000m steeplechase star Soufiane El Bakkali cemented his status as a national hero with his Olympic gold medal in 2021, and his enduring popularity at home was on full show at the Rabat Diamond League last year. Cheered on by an eardrum-bursting home crowd, El Bakkali stormed to a world lead and meeting record 7:58.28 in the Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah in 2022. He will be hoping to repeat the feat this year, with the steeplechase once again the headline event at the Meeting International Mohammed VI on Sunday. As reigning Diamond League champion and the winner of four out of five races last season, he goes into his season opener as firm favourite.
Ceh's winning streak
Only a few athletes were more successful than El Bakkali last year, but Kristjan Ceh was one of them. The Slovenian won all five WDL competitions in the men's discus, joining a select group of athletes to have recorded a perfect Diamond League season and breaking the series record in the process. Having begun his title defence with a meeting record and a victory in Doha earlier this month, Ceh is now out to extend his winning streak in the Diamond League to seven and take another major step towards this year's final.
Jackson bouncing back?
Jamaican star Shericka Jackson suffered an early setback in her 2023 Wanda Diamond League campaign with defeat to Sha'Carri Richardson in the women's 100m in Doha. The 28-year-old is getting straight back on the horse in Rabat, however, and will be hoping to bounce back in the 200m. Having won the Diamond Trophy in the half-lap last year, the Jamaican is odds-on favourite to win in Morocco against the likes of Tamari Davis, Kayla White and Anthonique Strachan.