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Lyles, Semenya target Diamond League trophies

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34   //    29 Aug 2018, 22:19 IST

Zurich, Aug 29 (AFP) US prodigy Noah Lyles heads the field at the first of the two Diamond League finals, in Zurich tomorrow, when he comes head-to-head with Turkey's world and European champion Ramil Guliyev.

Lyles remains the undisputed favourite going into the men's 200m final, having already clocked up four wins on the Diamond League circuit this season.

But Guliyev, along with Aaron Brown and Jereem Richards, will no doubt be breathing hard down the neck of the American, the defending Diamond Trophy champion.

"I acknowledge that Ramil Guliyev is running fast," said the 21-year-old Lyles, who ran a personal best of 19.65sec in Monaco in July.

"I knew I had to get to the Diamond League Final. Now I'm here, winning is more important than running fast."

The 200m is just one of 16 Diamond League disciplines to be decided at the sell-out Letzigrund Stadion, with the remaining 16 disciplines to be decided in Brussels on Friday.

The women's blue riband event sees Britain's newly-crowned European champion Dina Asher-Smith, who struck triple gold in Berlin after also winning the 200m and taking the 4x100m relay with her British team, take on a strong field over 100m.

Asher-Smith will line up alongside Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers, Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, and proven Ivorians Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Murielle Ahoure.

"There's no place to hide in the Diamond League!" admitted Asher-Smith.

"Sometimes it's not just about winning and losing, it's about the journey," the Briton said, before adding: "I hope to end my season on a high."

South African Caster Semenya will look to wrap up the trophy in the women's 800m.

"My main aim tomorrow is win the trophy," said the 27-year-old, the double Olympic champion (2012, 2016) and three-time world champion (2009, 2011, 2017) who is now unbeaten over the 800m since her elimination in the semi-finals of the 2015 worlds in Beijing.

But Semenya has also come under the spotlight this season off the track as she turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in her challenge of IAAF rules on testosterone levels in female athletes to be introduced in November.

Under the new regulations, "hyper-androgynous", athletes like Semenya would have to chemically lower their testosterone levels to be able to compete, something the 800m runner says is discriminatory and in violation of the IAAF's constitution and the Olympic Charter.

"I respect my opponents and I expect the same thing from them," Semenya said in Zurich.

"My ultimate goal is always to entertain people."

In the field, Greece's double defending title holder Ekaterina Stefanidi will bid to continue the form that saw her clinch European gold, up against American Sandi Morris.

Morris beat Stefanidi in Birmingham, albeit in extraordinarily windy conditions, and the American's season's best is also superior to the Greek vaulter's.

Stefanidi, with the world, Olympic and European titles to her name, is a proven performer, however, making for what should be a thrilling contest. Also competing in Switzerland will be Norwegian teenager Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

Aged just 17, he took gold in both the men's 1500m and 5000m at the Berlin Euros. Following an injury to another racer, Ingebrigtsen received a call-up for a season swansong, racing over 1500m against Kenya's world champion Elijah Manangoi, last year's Diamond champion Timothy Cheruiyot and his older brother Filip Ingebrigtsen.

Diamond Trophy disciplines

Women: 100m, 800m, 5000m, 400m hurdles, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, javelin Men: 200m, 400m, 1500m, 400m hurdles, 3000m steeplechase, long jump, shot put, javelin

PTI
NEWS
Press Trust of India (PTI) is a news agency in India
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