25 July, 2019

Road to the Final: Field disciplines come to boil in Birmingham

Birmingham will be centre stage for the thrilling crescendo of the 2019 IAAF Diamond League season.

In no fewer than eight Diamond Disciplines is the city the final stop on the Road to the Final, with so much on the line for the athletes fighting it out at the top of the standings.

At stake is the right to be called Diamond League champion but also a US$50,000 cash prize, a spectacular Diamond Trophy and a wildcard to the IAAF World Athletics Championships.

And with the IAAF World Championships a matter of weeks away, the globe’s greatest will converge on the Alexander Stadium at a level approaching their peak.

Five Diamond League field events will be on show in the West Midlands – here’s a look at where we stand ahead of the nerve-jangling climax on 18 August.

Women’s Pole Vault - Kat's on top

Katerina Stefanidi is leading the charge, narrowly on course for a fourth successive Diamond Trophy in the event with two meets to go. 

The reigning World and Olympic champion claimed maximum eight points from the opening event in Rabat but has both a European and world indoor champion on her tail.

Anzhelika Sidorova edged past Stefanidi in London and claimed back-to-back hauls of seven points in Rabat and Lausanne, while Sandi Morris is just four points behind the Greek star. 

Final: Brussels, 6 September

Men’s High Jump - Wide open 

The return of world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim and the mixed form of reigning champion Brandon Starc has made for a wide open Road to the Final in the high jump.

Indeed current leader, ANA Ilya Ivanyuk, hasn’t won an event outright with six points in Rabat and Shanghai his best haul of the season so far with two events still to go.

Despite spending 18 months on the sidelines, Barshim will aim for a late charge and has special memories in Birmingham where he cleared 2.40 in 2017.

Also in the hunt are Egypt’s Majd Eddin Ghazal, victorious in London, and in-form Belarusian Maksim Nedeskau, fresh from being crowned European U23 champion.

Final: Zurich, 29 August

Women’s Long Jump - Mihambo peerless

European outdoor champion Malaika Mihambo is in the box seat in the long jump as her superb, unbeaten season shows no signs of letting up.

It’s do or die for Mihambo and her rivals in Birmingham as it’s the last chance to secure a top-eight place and qualify for the Brussels final.

The German flew to a 7.07 PB at Diamond League Rome and blew away the field in London too, leaping 7.02.

With star names Ivana Spanovic and Tianna Bartoletta absent, it seems double Diamond Trophy winner Caterine Ibarguen poses the keenest threat to Mihambo’s leadership.

Final: Brussels, 6 September

Men’s Javelin - Hofmann ahead by a nose

As usual it’s Germany setting the pace in the javelin and reigning champion Andreas Hofmann is in the box seat, three points clear of the nearest challenger on 21.

Hofmann brought eight points back from Shanghai and Monaco but the consistency of Chao-Tsun Cheng means his lead is a slight one.

With only four events counting towards the Road to the Final in this event every meet is vital and Hofmann’s compatriot Thomas Rohler remains among the chasing pack. 

Final: Zurich, 29 August

Women’s Discus - Cubans slug it out

Another four-event Diamond Discipline in which supremacy remains up for grabs, it’s two Cubans slugging it out at the summit in discus.

There isn’t a cigar paper to separate 2015 world champion Denia Caballero and Yaime Perez, who swept the board for one-twos in Stockholm and Rabat.

Never count out six-time Diamond Trophy winner Sandra Perkovic, meeting record holder in Birmingham, who has claimed maximum points at no fewer than 42 Diamond League meets.

Final: Brussels, 6 September

See all the drama play out at the Muller Grand Prix Birmingham - tickets are on sale now at www.britishathletics.org.uk.