Dina Asher-Smith, Sha’Carri Richardson: Who to look out for at Diamond League opener

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This season’s Diamond League will get underway in Gateshead on Sunday. The event boasts a star-studded line-up, with many athletes using the competition as preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

GiveMeSport Women runs through the Olympic hopefuls worth keeping an eye on this weekend.

Dina Asher-Smith

Dina Asher-Smith is already a star, but the 25-year-old is likely to come out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as one of the biggest names in British sport.

She will fly to Tokyo as a medal favourite in both the 200 metre and 100 metre events, having clinched a world title in the former in 2019. She also finished with a world silver medal across the shorter distance.

This weekend’s 100m race will be Asher-Smith’s biggest test in a while. She is set to come up against reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. The result could be indicative of who takes gold in Tokyo.

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Sha’Carri Richardson

Another contender in the 100m will be emerging talent Sha’Carri Richardson. The American turned professional in 2019 and has since put herself in with a chance for an Olympic medal.

Richardson particularly impressed at the USATF Golden Games this month, clocking back-to-back times of 10.74 and 10.77 seconds in the 100m. She also ran a time of 10.72 last month, making her the sixth fastest woman in history.

This time is just behind Thompson-Herah and Fraser-Pryce, who have both clocked 10.70, albeit some time ago now. This weekend will finally offer the chance to see Richardson go head-to-head against these two legends.

Laura Muir

The women’s 1500m is set to conclude the Diamond League meeting on Sunday – Muir will be the headline act. The Scottish athlete is the reigning European champion across the distance and also holds the British record, clocking a time of 3mins 55.22secs back in 2016.

Muir has been training in the United States during the pandemic, with Sunday’s race set to be her first on British soil in 15 months. It will be crucial for her Olympic preparation – the 28-year-old finished 7th in the 1500m at Rio 2016 and will be looking to improve on this at Tokyo 2020.

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Mariya Lasitskene

Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene will be back in action this weekend, having sat out the majority of the past year due to the pandemic.

The high-jump star, who has three world titles in the discipline, was favourite to win Olympic gold at Rio 2016. She was unable to compete, however, following a ban on the Russian track and field team for systematic doping. Lasitskene will now be raring to go in Tokyo this summer, having been approved as an Authorised Neutral Athlete.

She will face a serious challenge from Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who has risen up the rankings in Lasitskene’s absence. The pair will face each other this weekend in what will surely be a battle for dominance heading into the Olympics.

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Shanieka Ricketts

Shanieka Ricketts will be one of the medal favourites in the women’s triple jump competition at Tokyo 2020. The Jamaican enjoyed a successful 2019, finishing with silver at the World Athletics Championships and the Pan American Games.

Will she be able to upgrade this to gold at the Olympics? Her performance in the Diamond League on Sunday will go some way to indicate whether this is achievable.

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