10 July, 2018

Rabat: Five things to look out for

  • © Jean-Pierre Durand

  • © Jean-Pierre Durand

  • © Giancarlo Colombo

Ahoure and Asher-Smith clash again, El Bakkali goes after crucial points on home soil, former Diamond Trophy winners return to action in the shot put. The Road To The Final heads to Africa this week for the Meeting International Mohammed VI. Here are five things to look out for in Rabat.

1. El Bakkali out to win again on home soil - 3000m Steeplechase

Moroccan star Soufiane El Bakkali delighted the home crowd in Rabat last year as he barrelled to victory in the men's steeplechase. Just weeks later, he would go on to win the silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in London, crowning a fine season for the then 21-year-old. This year, El Bakkali hopes to emulate his home soil heroics in Rabat, and kick start his Road To The Final in the process. A win would propel the young Moroccan into the top eight, raising his chances of a place in the Final and a shot at the Diamond Trophy. 

2. Ahouré and Asher-Smith clash again - 200m

Murielle Ahouré and Dina Asher-Smith delivered a pair of brilliant duels over 100m in Oslo and Stockholm earlier this summer, with Ahouré winning by a whisker in Oslo before Asher-Smith beat the Ivorian in Sweden a few days later. Both have booked their spots in the Final in the 100m, and now turn their attention to the 200m, where they meet again in Rabat. They face a seriously tough field, however, with the likes of Marie-Josée Ta Lou, Shericka Jackson and Diamond Trophy holde Shaunae Miller-Uibo all also looking to pick up valuable points and book their place in the 200m Final. 

3. Vadlejch, Röhler and co. eye place in the Final - Javelin

Victories in Doha and Eugene have made Thomas Röhler the man to beat in the men's javelin so far this season, but the German has not nailed down his place in the Final just yet. Nor would he be resting on his laurels if he had, particularly after a late surprise last year saw Jakub Vadlejch steal the Diamond Trophy from under the noses of Röhler and compatriot Johannes Vetter. Both Vadlejch and Röhler head to Rabat this week knowing that victory could see them secure a spot in the Final in 2018. 

4. Adams and Schwanitz target Trophy - Shot Put

Until last year, the Diamond Trophy in the women's shot put had always been won by Valerie Adams, with the exception of 2015, when Christina Schwanitz took the Trophy in Adams' absence. Last year, though, was the year of Lijiao Gong, the Chinese star who also got off to a winning start this year in Shanghai. In Rabat, both Adams and Schwanitz return to IAAF Diamond League action as they look to join Gong at the top of the standings and begin their respective challenges to regain the Diamond Trophy. 

5. Lavillenie faces finalists - Pole Vault

Renaud Lavillenie finally lost his grip on the Diamond Trophy after seven years last season, and has been engaged in a hard-fought battle with the likes of Mondo Duplantis, Piotr Lisek and his 2017 conqueror Sam Kendricks as he looks to regain his crown. After defeat to Kendricks on home soil in Paris, Lavillenie won in a non-scoring event in Lausanne, and now faces the American again in Rabat. With Kendricks and Lisek already qualified, Lavillenie is under a little pressure to take eight points and ensure that he joins them in the Final next month.