The IAAF Diamond League series has just passed halfway with the eighth meet, Athletissima to be held in the Swiss city of Lausanne over the next two nights. Four Aussies, Kurtis Marschall, Brooke Stratton, Brandon Starc and Linden Hall are in the competitive fields.
Becoming common practice now at some major meets, is an event in the city centre the night prior to the main program. Shot put, high jump, long jump and other events have been tried, but the crowd favorite seems to be the pole vault, if logistically it is possible. Lausanne is following this pathway, taking a high-quality field to the streets this year, when the Place de la Navigation, in downtown Lausanne, will be locked down for the pole vault. Australia’s Commonwealth Games champion, Kurtis Marschall lines up against a terrific field with three six-metre vaulters and another three with lifetime bests over 5.90m. After winning gold on the Gold Coast with 5.70m, Marschall is in peak form already this European campaign with another two 5.70m clearances in Europe in Mannheim and Paris.
The event commences at 2.00am AEST tomorrow morning.
Early Friday morning from 2am AEST the competition moves to the 15,000 seat Stade de la Pontaise. Brandon Starc starts in his second Diamond League of the year and with his recent efforts he looks in shape to improve his personal best. He has really hit his straps in the last 10 days, clearing 2.30m in Madrid, then 2.32m in Hungary this week. In both competitions he challenged the 2018 world indoor champion, Russia’s Danil Lysenko, with both clearing the same heights, only separated on countback. With the world leader, Mutaz Essa Barshim, not entered, Starc has a real chance to finish, at least, on the podium. Also on his mind will be improvement of his 2.32m personal. He has taken four attempts at 2.34m in the last two meets and described his jumps on twitter as “a very good look at 2.34m.”
Starc is in rarefied company amongst Australians with only national record-holder Tim Forsyth, ever going higher than the Sydneysider’s best.
Emerging from the Australian winter is Commonwealth Games long jump silver medallist, Brooke Stratton. She is one of five athletes with a lifetime best over seven metres, including Englishwoman Lorraine Ugen, the Gold Coast champion, who eclipsed that world class benchmark when she leapt a personal best and world leading distance of 7.05m just three days ago.
An enormous field of 18 athletes (including pacesetters) face the starters gun in the 1500m. In the lineup is Melbourne’s Linden Hall, the new national record holder. It is her third start in Europe this season, following runs of 4:02.89 in Stockholm and 4:04.48 in Madrid, and she is expected to continue her push towards the sub-four minute barrier.
David Tarbotton for Athletics Australia