It is the head to head everyone wants to see. World 100m champion and Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley versus the man who beat him to the title in Tokyo two years ago, Marcell Jacobs. But will it happen?
After trash talk on social media in recent months, the pair were due to meet at the Diamond League in Rabat last weekend but Jacobs pulled out with a minor injury. On Friday (June 2), though, he will be competing on home soil.
Kerley, of the United States, won the 100m in Rabat in 9.94 with Jacobs sitting on the sidelines as he sorted out a sacral nerve issue. “It’s the result of a misstep and not an injury,” said the Italian. “I’m in strong physical shape technical and ready for a great outdoor season. The challenge is only postponed.”
Jacobs has come under the spotlight elsewhere lately too after it emerged his former nutritionist Giacomo Spazzini was given a 15-year doping ban, only to have it rescinded when anti-doping authorities decided he was not under the jurisdiction of WADA rules.
Also in the 100m line-up on Friday are Trayvon Bromell, Ferdinand Omanyala, Akani Simbine and Samuele Ceccarelli, an Italian who made big improvements to beat Jacobs to the European indoor 60m title in Istanbul in March.
With the Stadio Olympico in Rome being upgraded ahead of the 2024 European Championships, the action on Friday will unfold at the Luigi Ridolfi Stadium in Florence. A number of top British athletes will be in action too.
Laura Muir faces world and Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya plus Ireland’s Ciara Mageean and in-form Diribe Welteji of Ethjiopia in the women’s metric mile.
Dina Asher-Smith and fellow Brit Imani Lansiquot are in a 100m field that includes Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, European champion Gina Lückenkemper of Germany and Abby Steiner of the United States.
A stacked women’s long jump line-up sees European indoor champion Jazmin Sawyers up against Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, host nation hope Larissa Iappichino, Ese Brume of Nigeria, Tara Davis-Woodhall of the United States and Ivana Vuleta of Serbia.
Femke Bol leads a women’s 400m hurdles line-up that includes US talent Shamier Little and, intriguingly, last weekend’s Götzis heptathlon winner Anna Hall. It will be interesting to see how the latter goes as her best is 54.48 from 2022 and she has run 12.75 for 100m hurdles and 51.03 indoors for 400m.
Distance running fans will want to tune in as well as the men’s 5000m features 14 men who have broken 13 minutes. The first time that barrier was breached incidentally was when Said Aouita did it at this very meeting in Rome in 1987. This time the main contenders are Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, Selemon Barega, Berihu Aregawi and Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia, Mo Katir of Spain and Grant Fisher of the United States.
The women’s steeplechase also has a strong line-up with Winfred Mutile Yavi, Sembo Alemayehu and world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech.
Elsewhere, Erriyon Knighton headlines the men’s 200m, Grant Holloway and Devon Allen are in the men’s 110m hurdles, Valarie Allman is in the women’s discus, while Katie Moon and Sandi Morris are in the women’s pole vault.
For UK viewers the event is broadcast on BBC Three from 7-9pm on Friday.
Up-to-date start lists here.
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