Culminating a fantastic season in athletics, a couple of Bahamians will get a shot to go after Diamond League (DL) titles this week in Zürich, Switzerland.
The two-day Wanda Diamond League Final, the Weltklasse Zürich, is set for Sechseläutenplatz on Wednesday September 7 and Letzigrund Stadium on Thursday September 8, in Zürich.
There were actually three who qualified, in four disciplines, but Shaunae Miller-Uibo has decided to shut down her season and not go after a fifth Diamond League title. She is the only Bahamian to qualify in two events this year – both the women’s 200 and 400 meters (m).
Qualifying fourth in the women’s 100m hurdles is Devynne Charlton, finishing with 19 points from the qualifying period. She had a second, a fourth, a fifth and a sixth in her Diamond League races in 2022. Charlton will go up against a tough field on Thursday as she will line up next to former world record holder Kendra Harrison of the United States, current world record holder Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, Olympic Champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico, former World Champion Nia Ali of the United States, world championships silver medalist and former World Youth Champion Britany Anderson of Jamaica and former World Junior Champion Tia Jones of the United States. Pia Skrzyszowska, of Poland, and Ditaji Kambundji, of Switzerland, will complete the field. All of the runners with the exception of wild card entry Kambundji have run under 12.55 seconds this year.
Charlton has had a sensational year, setting a new national record in the women’s 60m hurdles in the semifinals of that event at the World Athletics Indoor Championships at Štark Arena in Belgrade, Serbia, and then matching that time in the final for the silver medal; and also setting the national record twice in the women’s 100m hurdles, climaxed by her blazing 12.46 run at the World Athletics Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, United States (US).
In addition to her world indoors silver, she won a silver in the 100m hurdles at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and added a bronze in that event at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) Track and Field Championships in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Charlton has had the two best runs of her career in the 60m hurdles indoors this year and the three best runs of her career in the 100m hurdles outdoors. In relay action, she was a part of the women’s 4x100m relay team that won a silver medal for The Bahamas at the NACAC Track and Field Championships on home soil.
The other Bahamian who will go after a Diamond League title on Thursday will be TyNia Gaither in the women’s 200m.
Gaither qualified seventh in the women’s 200m, finishing with 10 points in the collection of Diamond League regular season meetings. She had two fourth place finishes. Miller-Uibo finished fourth in the standings with 12 points, but as mentioned, she decided to shut down her season after the NACAC Championships in Freeport.
Gaither will line up next to World Champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica – the second-fastest woman ever over that distance, Americans Gabrielle Thomas, Jenna Prandini and Tamara Clark, hometown favorite Mujinga Kambundji, of Switzerland, Ida Karstoft, of Denmark, and Beth Dobbin, of Great Britain. Dina Asher-Smith, of Great Britain, has also pulled out. All of the athletes with the exception of Dobbin have run under 23 seconds this year.
Like Charlton, Gaither has also had a splendid season. She ran her three fastest times in the women’s 200m this year and came close to her personal best in the 100m.
Gaither ran a new personal best time in the 200m in the semifinals of that event at the Oregon World Championships, and then matched that personal best time of 22.41 seconds for the silver medal at the NACAC Track and Field Championships in her hometown of Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Earlier in the season, Gaither set her personal best time at 22.45 seconds at the Baylor Invitational at the Clyde Hart Track & Field Stadium in Waco, Texas, and then topped that time twice in the ensuing months. Be that as it may, she will certainly have her work cut out for her in Zürich. Five of the ladies in the race on Thursday have run faster than her this year.
Anthonique Strachan missed out of the Diamond League Final this year, finishing 29th in the standings for the 100m and 16th in the standings for the 200m, but she will be in action at the Hungarian Grand Prix Series Meet, a World Athletics Continental Tour bronze level event, at Sportcentrum in Pápa, Hungary, this week.
Just the top eight athletes in each of the 32 disciplines in athletics are assured of lanes on the track and positions in the field events.
After four months and 12 meetings, the Wanda Diamond League reaches its climax this Wednesday and Thursday as the world’s best athletes will battle for the prestigious Diamond trophies. Six finals will take place at a city event at Sechseläutenplatz on Wednesday and the remaining 26 event finals will take place at the Letzigrund Stadium on Thursday.
A number of present and former World and Olympic Champions, and medalists, will be in action over the two days of competition, looking to climax the season with fantastic performances.