The Wanda Diamond League Final is nearly upon us! After a qualification journey which stretched over five months, 13 meetings and four continents, the world's best athletes are now set to battle it out for the Diamond Trophy at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. With just a few days to go until the two-day season finale at Hayward Field, we take a look back at the 2023 Road to the Final.
Road to the Final 2023: Throws
2021 Diamond League champion Ryan Crouser was on a mission to regain his title in 2023, and he came into the season in fine fettle, having shifted his technique and broken the world record in May. That form showed throughout the summer, as the American grabbed wins in Lausanne, Silesia and London to establish a firm lead at the top of the standings. Leonardo Fabbri also picked up a rare win on home soil in Florence, but it is Oregon-born Crouser who goes into Eugene as the firm favourite on Sunday.
Crouser's compatriot Chase Ealey was also expected to dominate this year after she achieved the rare feat of a perfect Diamond League season on her way to the title in 2022. It proved a rougher ride than expected, as Portugal's Auriol Dongmo won the opening two meets in Rabat and Paris and Canada's Sarah Mitton claimed her first ever Diamond League win in Oslo. It wasn't until Zurich that Ealey truly showed her champion class, as she battled back in a thrilling competition to beat Mitton and secure qualification for the final.
After two Diamond League titles in a row, things looked to be going smoothly for the USA's Valarie Allman in the early season as she picked up victories in Florence and Paris. But a surprise victory for the Netherlands' Jorinde Van Klinken in Oslo blew the women's discus wide open in mid-season, and from then on, everybody wanted a piece of the action. Six-time Diamond League champion Sandra Perkovic returned to winning ways in Stockholm, before China's Feng Bin delighted the home crowd with a win in Xiamen. With world champion Laulauga Tausaga also on the startlist in Eugene, it is anybody's guess who will take the Diamond Trophy.
In the men's discus, Slovenia's Kristjan Ceh initially continued his brilliant run from 2022, extending his winning run to eight meetings with wins in Doha, Rabat and Stockholm. Yet the 2022 Diamond League champion eventually met his match in London, where he was beaten by long-time Swedish rival and former Diamond Trophy holder Daniel Stahl. The two men will go head to head once again in Eugene, and it promises to be a cracker.
India's Neeraj Chopra enjoyed another successful season in 2023, adding a World Championship gold medal to his Olympic and Diamond League titles to establish himself as the leading light in the men's javelin once again. His title defence in the Diamond League started equally smoothly with a world lead of 88.67m at the season opener in Doha and another win in Lausanne in mid-season. Yet the javelin remains a highly competitive event, and two-time Diamond League champion Jakub Vadlejch also staked his claim to the title with back-to-back wins in Monaco and Zurich in the second half of the season. In Eugene, Chopra will be chasing a second successive title and the elusive 90-metre mark, but he will need to have one eye over his shoulder at the likes of Vadlejch.
The women's javelin will likely be the first discipline to be decided in Eugene this weekend, and it is Japan's Haruka Kitaguchi who heads to Hayward Field as the favourite. Kitaguchi opened her campaign with a win in Paris and, after Mackenzie Little's triumph a few weeks later in Lausanne, went on to dominate the rest of the season. In Silesia, she set a new national record of 67.04m, and in Zurich she went even further with a world-leading 67.38m.