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USA’s Harrison Heading for Paris Diamond League – and Another World Record

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Kendra Harrison, who broke the 28-year-old world 100 meter hurdles record last month after failing to qualify at the US Olympic track and field trials, is heading into Saturday’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League meeting in Paris with another world record in mind.

Harrison, who lowered the 1988 mark of 12.21sec – set by Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova – to 12.20 at the London Anniversary Games, returned to action at last night’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, where she beat a strong field in 12.42 and subsequently announced that she had ambitions to go faster than ever this season.

“I don’t consider being the new world record holder as any pressure, on the contrary it has my confidence very high,” she said. “My objective for the remainder of the season is to win the next two Diamond League races and hopefully get another PB, another world record.”

Although none of the three United States medalists from Rio will be in Paris – gold went to Brianna Rollins in 12.48 – the field in the Stade de France will still be top quality, which is partly a reflection of the huge strength in depth the US has in this event.

Harrison will be challenged by compatriots Dawn Harper-Nelson, the 2008 Olympic champion and London 2012 silver medalist, Jasmin Stowers, who ran a personal best of 12.35 last year, and Sharika Nelvis, who has run 12.34.

Seven newly-minted Olympic gold medalists will feature in tomorrow’s Meeting de Paris – and the pressure is on as many face once again the rivals with whom they shared the Rio podium.

In what promises to be one of the highlights, the women’s 3,000m steeplechase will feature the gold, silver and bronze medalists from Rio in Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet, Kenya’s world champion Hyvin Kiyeng and Emma Coburn of the US.

Having produced the second and third fastest times ever this year, both just about a second off the 8:58.81 Gulnara Galkina of Russia recorded in winning the Beijing 2008 title – what might the naturalised Kenyan Jebet do here in this Rio-reboot?

The women’s 1500m, stacked with talent, also looks a stand-out event – of the top 10 finishers in Rio, only Ethiopia’s silver medalist Genzebe Dibaba is absent, and the main challenge to Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon could come from numerous directions including bronze medalist Jenny Simpson, her US compatriot Shannon Rowbury, who finished fourth, or The Netherlands’ fifth-placed world indoor champion Sifan Hassan, now back in top form after the injury which got her outdoor season off to a delayed start.

One to watch here is Britain’s Laura Muir, who paid for her ambition in the Rio final as she faded to seventh place, but showed last year in Oslo and again in London a month ago that she knows how to win Diamond League races.

Spain’s 37-year-old women’s high jump champion Ruth Beitia has reconsidered her decision to retire after Rio 2016 – just as she did following London 2012 – and is a late entry to a field that already includes the Bulgarian who took silver behind her in the Olympic Stadium, Mirela Demireva, and Alessia Trost of Italy, fifth in the Olympic final.

Shot put gold medalist Ryan Crouser of the US, a man inspired in Rio, where his Olympic record of 22.52 was preceded in the morning by the biggest ever Olympic qualifying throw, 21.59, meets up again with the silver and bronze medalists, fellow American and world champion Joe Kovacs and Tom Walsh of New Zealand.

All three Rio medalists will be present too in the women’s discus, where champion Sandra Perkovic, who only needs to compete in the final Diamond League event to secure a fifth consecutive overall Diamond Race title, faces France’s silver medallist Melina Robert-Michon and Cuba’s bronze medalist and world champion Denia Caballero.

The women’s long jump will see Rio champion Tianna Bartoletta, whose fifth round personal best of 7.17 earned her a victory by 2cm over defending champion and fellow American Brittney Reese, facing Ivan Spanovic, who set a Serbian record of 7.08 for bronze, for the second time in three days following the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne.

Spanovic got back on top in Lausanne, winning with 6.83 as her US opponent could only manage 6.46 for fifth place.

Meanwhile, the men’s javelin brings together another athlete who earned gold with a dramatic fifth round effort, Thomas Rohler, with bronze medallist and Trinidad & Tobago’s London 2012 champion Keshorn Walcott.

Kerron Clement, the men’s 400m hurdles gold medallist from the US, faces a field which includes Turkey’s bronze medallist Yasmani Copello.

While France do not have an Olympic champion to celebrate there will be three silver medallists on parade in Robert-Michon, decathlete Kevin Mayer – who goes in the javelin – and world pole vault record holder Renaud Lavillenie.

Lavillenie, who will expect a welcome rather different to that he received in Rio’s Olympic Stadium when he was booed during his final and medals ceremony, takes on bronze medallist San Kendricks of the US and Canada’s world champion Shawnacy Barber, who will be eager to make up for his disappointment in finishing tenth in Rio.

By Mike Rowbottom

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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