The 2018 IAAF Diamond League season comes to an exciting conclusion on Thursday and Friday with the Diamond League Finals in Zurich, Switzerland, and Brussels, Belgium.
The story of the Diamond League in 2018 is the number of athletes who have burst onto the scene and made name for themselves as the next track stars to watch. Some are Olympic hopefuls, while some are already Olympians but looking to take the next step in their careers.
Those names include 2014 Youth Olympian Noah Lyles, 2016 Olympian and new 5,000-meter American record holder Shelby Houlihan and the fastest man in the world this year, Ronnie Baker. But those are just a few of the names competing for Team USA in the finals.
Here are some of the other American contenders to watch by event.
Baker put down a 9.87 personal best last week in Poland to edge fellow American Lyles for the fastest time of the year. Lyles won’t be lining up in Brussels, but Olympian Christian Coleman will, who has been hampered by injuries but has a season-best 9.94 to his credit. Along with U.S. Olympians Michael Rodgers and Isiah Young, Team USA should be able to earn a spot on the podium.
Women’s 100-meter Hurdles
It’s a three-way Team USA race between Rio gold medalist Brianna McNeal, world record holder Keni Harrison and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson, who will be retiring from Diamond League competition after this meet.
Lyles has been the best man in the 200 in the world this year, and faces his toughest competition in the form of Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev. Lyles is as hot as ever in this race, with his fastest times coming in his last three races.
Houlihan has come on strong in the past year, but faces some of the toughest competition she’s ever seen. Chief among them is Olympic medalist Jenny Simpson.
Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor has been the king of the triple jump for the past seven years, winning both Olympic gold medals and three world titles. Standing in his way is Pedro Pablo Pichardo from Portugal, who has the top jump of the year.
Women’s 3,000-meter Steeplechase
Olympic medalist Emma Coburn and Olympian Courtney Frerichs made history in 2017 by going 1-2 at the world championships and winning Team USA’s first women’s steeplechase world medals. But they will have their hands full with a trio of dominant Kenyan runners in Beatrice Chepkoech, Celliphine Chespol and Hyvin Kiyeng.
Men’s Pole Vault
Sam Kendricks is the Olympic bronze medalist and reigning world champion, having gone undefeated in 2017, but the men’s pole vault field is especially deep. Three vaulters have cleared 6.03 meters, which was the outdoor world record as recently as 1995.
South Africa’s Caster Semenya is the world record holder, but Team USA’s Ajee Wilson is an Olympian, national champion and world championship bronze medalist.
Men’s 3,000-meter Steeplechase
The field here is stacked, as nine athletes own the 26 fastest times this year. Team USA’s Evan Jager is an Olympic silver medalist and has put up the second-fastest time of the season.
Fred Kerley has two Diamond League wins at this distance this season. In the eight-man field, only the Bahamas’ Steven Gardiner has a better season’s best.
Men’s Shot Put
It has been a see-saw battle all season between Team USA’s Ryan Crouser, the Olympic champion, and New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh, the Olympic bronze medalist and world champion. Each man won two Diamond League events this season. Walsh and Crouser are 1-2, respectively, in season-best marks among the eight entrants.
Women’s Pole Vault
Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris owns three Diamond League wins this season, and has the season’s best mark of 4.95 meters among the 12 entrants.