Five events to watch at Diamond League opener in Doha

Justin Gatlin
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The first of 14 Diamond League meets is Friday in Doha, featuring several of the U.S.’ biggest hopes for Olympic track and field gold in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Justin Gatlin went undefeated in the 100m and 200m last season. Allyson Felix (200m) and Dawn Harper-Nelson (100m hurdles) were also fastest in the world in their events in 2014. Sanya Richards-Ross and Francena McCorory are the world’s best in the 400m. Brittney Reese has won every global meet long jump she’s entered since 2009.

They’re all in Doha, along with more Olympic champions including Great Britain’s Mo Farah and Australia’s Sally Pearson.

Start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern).

10:30 a.m. — Women’s long jump
10:35 — Women’s discus
10:40 — Men’s shot put
11:10  — Men’s pole vault
11:25 — Women’s high jump
12:04 p.m. — Men’s 400m hurdles
12:10 — Men’s javelin
12:15 — Women’s 1500m
12:29 — Men’s 800m
12:40 — Men’s triple jump
12:41 —  Women’s 200m
12:52 — Women’s 100m hurdles
1:02 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
1:23 — Men’s 100m
1:34 — Women’s 400m
1:45 — Men’s 3000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s 200m — 12:41 p.m. ET

Olympic champion Allyson Felix opened her individual-event season by finishing third in the Jamaica Invitational 100m in Kingston on Saturday. One could say it was promising, given she was beaten only by Jamaican Elaine Thompson and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare — who are looking like Worlds medal contenders — and was faster than Jeneba Tarmoh, whom she famously tied at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

And because Felix has said she’s focusing on the 200m and 400m this season anyway, after coming back from a torn hamstring at the 2013 World Championships to post the fastest 200m time since the 2012 Olympics in Brussels on Sept. 5.

In Doha, Tarmoh may be Felix’s biggest threat along with the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure. Absent are Jamaican superstars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (the World champion) and Veronica Campbell-Brown (the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion).

Women’s 100m hurdles — 12:52 p.m. ET

This is looking like it’ll be the toughest event in which to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, and four of the candidates are in Doha.

Included are the fastest women from 2014 and 2015 — Dawn Harper-Nelson and Jasmin Stowers — plus the second-fastest woman from 2014 — Queen Harrison — and Kristi Castlin. Absent are reigning World champion Brianna Rollins, plus Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones, who were third and fourth at the 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. contingent in Doha will be challenged by the two best non-Americans of the last five years — Australian Olympic champion Sally Pearson and Great Britain’s Michigan-born Tiffany Porter.

Men’s 100m — 1:23 p.m. ET

Justin Gatlin opens his 100m season against a field that includes World bronze medalist Nesta Carter of Jamaica and Mike Rodgers, the second-fastest American behind Gatlin last year.

Gatlin, who ran five of the six fastest times among an undefeated 2014, will more likely be measured against the men who are not in Doha. We’ve already seen Usain Bolt run 10.12 in April, his slowest 100m time ever in a final. Former world-record holder Asafa Powell clocked 9.84 in Kingston on Saturday, the fastest time in the world this year.

Women’s 400m — 1:34 p.m. ET

The two fastest women from 2014 will go head to head here — countrywomen Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross.

The Olympic champion Richards-Ross has looked stronger so far this year, beating McCorory in Kingston on Saturday and clocking a faster 4x400m split at the IAAF World Relays the week before that.

Men’s 3000m — 1:45 p.m. ET

British Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah headlines this event, which is not contested in the Olympic program.

The competition includes Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet and Kenyan Isiah Koech, who took silver and bronze behind Farah in the 5000m at the 2013 World Championships.

U.S. 4x100m relay team stripped of 2012 Olympic silver medals