Giant leap for Luvo

PE long-jump ace Manyonga looks to shatter record

Luvo Manyonga competes in the Men's long jump final during athletics on day seven of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on April 11, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia
Luvo Manyonga competes in the Men's long jump final during athletics on day seven of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Stadium on April 11, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia
Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Port Elizabeth-based world champion Luvo Manyonga headlines a star-studded men’s long jump today as the Diamond League heads to Rome for the fourth event in the 14-leg IAAF series.

Manyonga, 27, has already jumped 8.56m this season as he pushes to better the 1991 long-time world record of 8.95m achieved by American Mike Powell back in 1991.

Compatriot Rushwal Samaai, Cuba’s world indoor champion Juan Miguel Echevarria, American Marquis Dendy and Olympic champion Jeff Henderson are among his chief rivals.

US sprinters Christian Coleman and Ronnie Baker are set to renew their rivalry at the same meeting.

Coleman – who finished between Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt in the 100m at the world championships in August and went on to win the world indoor 60m title in February with a new world record -- lost his outdoor 100m season-opener to Baker in Eugene, Oregon, last weekend.

But as the Eugene race was not a Diamond Discipline, the Golden Gala in Rome will offer Coleman a first chance to pick up points on the road to the final.

US 60m indoor champion Baker, who holds the 2018 world best of 9.97sec, defended his 100m crown in a 2.4m/sec wind-aided 9.78 -- the fastest time run this year.

Coleman was second in 9.84, but the 22-year-old said he was still working his way back into shape after a minor leg injury kept him from competing in Shanghai earlier this month.

Among the US duo’s challengers will be Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, South African Akani Simbine and American Michael Rodgers.

American world pole vault champion Sam Kendricks’s bid for back-to-back wins will be challenged by Poland’s Piotr Lisek, third last weekend, with Brazil’s Olympic champion, Thiago, pushing for a way back after he no-heighted in Eugene.
World 100m and 200m women’s silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou won in Eugene, where she ran 10.88 in the 100m to defeat the world and Olympic champions Tori Bowie and Elaine Thompson.

Ta Lou, a 29-year-old from the Ivory Coast, moves up to the 200m in Rome, where Shericka Jackson, 23, of Jamaica looks her strongest rival.

In the women’s steeplechase, US world champion Emma Coburn faces a huge challenge from the Kenyan trio of Beatrice Chepkoech, Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi and Celliphine Chepteek Chespol, all of whom have run faster than her personal best of 9:02.58.

US athletes are favourites in the 100m hurdles – Olympic champion Brianna McNeal, who has already run 12.43 this year, Sharika Nelvis, Jasmin Stowers and 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson, who will retire at the end of this season, are the strong quartet on show.

Croatia’s world and Olympic champion, Sandra Perkovic, looks favourite in the women’s discus, with Russian Mariya Lasitskene dominant in the women’s high jump.

In the women’s discus Croatian star Sandra Perkovic returns to the Olympic Stadium aiming to win for the third time.

The Olympic, world and European champion has won the Diamond League title in her discipline for six years.

The men’s discus sees some big names jostling for their first points with German brothers Robert and Christoph Harting, Olympic champions in 2012 and 2016 respectively, up against Lithuania’s world champion, Andrius Gudzius, and four-time Diamond Trophy winner Piotr Malachowski of Poland.

Norway’s world 400m hurdles champion, Karsten Warholm, faces a field that includes Olympic champion Kerron Clement of the US, Kenya’s 2015 world champion Nicholas Bett and Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba, winner in Doha this month.

The women’s 400m hurdles will be a showdown between Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad and two past Rome winners, Georganne Moline and Janieve Russell.