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17 brits in action at penultimate diamond league 

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The penultimate IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season sees 17 British athletes head to Zurich tomorrow evening (Sept 1) for the first of two finals, with double Diamond Race points up for grabs for those in the reckoning for an overall title.

One potential Diamond Race champion is middle-distance specialist Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young), who showcased the potential that many have spoken of this season in Paris as she pulled away from the field to break the tape in 3:55.22, a time two seconds quicker than her own previous national record, set at London’s Anniversary Games. The world-leading time saw her elevate to second in the Diamond Race standings with one race remaining, with eight points the gap between herself and first.

Joining Muir over the distance is compatriot and fellow Olympic finalist Laura Weightman (Steve Cram), with competition to the pair coming from Diamond Race leader Faith Kipyegon (KEN) and Jennifer Simpson (USA), Olympic gold and bronze medallists respectively. The race is set to be paced by 2011 European indoor champion Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter).

British 100m and 200m record holder Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) will hope to close out her season in style having enjoyed a monumental year of success, becoming 200m European champion in Amsterdam back in July prior to 4x100m bronze glory in Rio. Still only 20, the Blackheath & Bromley athlete will look to lower her lifetime best over 200m as she pits herself against the world’s best in Olympic champion Elaine Thompson (JAM), world champion Dafne Schippers (NED) and world multi-medallist Allyson Felix (USA).

Three of the top four ranked British long jumpers will compete in Switzerland, with Lorraine Ugen (Shawn Jackson), Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) and Jazmin Sawyers (Alan Lerwill) all in action on the runway. The past twelve months have seen all three athletes win medals on either the world or European stage, with world indoor bronze medallist Ugen showing no signs of an Olympic hangover as she jumped to a season’s best of 6.80m in Paris last weekend.

The British trio will face off against all three Olympic medallists in Tianna Bartoletta, Brittney Reese (both of the USA) and Ivana Spanovic (SER). A thrilling final in Rio saw Bartoletta pinch the title of Olympic champion from Reese by 2cm, whilst bronze medallist Spanovic rounds off the year with Olympic bronze, European gold and a Diamond Race title, with her current tally of 56 points now uncatchable.

In the field, British champion Jade Lally (Andrew Neal) comes up against Olympic champion and Diamond Race victor Sandra Perkovic (CRO) in the discus. The British champion has been consistently throwing in the region of 60m and upwards this season, and will look to trouble her best of 65.10m in a field which also contains world champion Denia Caballero (CUB) and Olympic silver medallist Melina Robert-Michon (FRA).

The British presence in the men’s 400m will be felt through Martyn Rooney (Rana Reider) and Matt Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley). Rooney will end the year having retained his European title from 2014 with victory in Amsterdam, whilst British champion Hudson-Smith reached the Olympic final with a terrific lifetime best of 44.48 in his semi-final. The pair will face Olympic bronze medallist LaShawn Merritt (USA) and Isaac Makwala (BOT), who are first and third in the Diamond Race standings respectively.

The women’s 800m sees all eight Olympic finalists in action, with Lynsey Sharp (Rana Reider) the sole British representative. Sharp posted a personal best (1:57.69) in the final in Rio as she finished sixth, and the Commonwealth silver medallist will aim to better that time at Stadium Letzigrund as she takes on a world class field which includes Olympic champion Caster Semenya (SRA) and world champion Maryna Arzamasava (BLR).

The final Diamond League 100m hurdles of the year sees Cindy Ofili (James Henry) in action once again. The 22 year old enjoyed a promising debut Games, finishing agonisingly close to bronze as the USA swept the board, whilst her form in the two Diamond League meetings since Rio has shown no signs of rustiness, with a 12.66 clocking at the Stade de France coming within six hundredths of a second of her lifetime best. Competition comes from the formidable Kendra Harrison (USA), a world record holder in the discipline who has recently spoken of her ambition to go sub-12 in the event, and European champion Cindy Roleder (GER).

Also close to a medal in Rio was athletics team captain Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge), whose bold run from lane two in the 200m final saw him finish just three thousandths of a second from bronze. In his first race since, the British 200m champion goes in the 100m alongside compatriot Chijindu Ujah (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo). Like the rest of the field both British men are sub-10 athletes, with the in-form Ben Youssef Miete (CIV), European champion Churandy Martina (NED) and Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod all present in the field.

Despite there being no Diamond Race points up for grabs in Zurich, current Diamond Race leader Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold) will hope to post another strong time before the second of the finals in Brussels - the final stop on the circuit – a meet the Scot will head to with the aim of sewing up the 400m hurdles title. The 4x400m Olympic bronze winner has looked sharp this season, with her second fastest time of the year (54.45) coming in Lausanne last week following a lifetime best clocking of 54.09 at Monaco’s Herculis meeting earlier in the year.

The women’s pole vault, held the evening before the main program in the unique setting of Zurich train station, will feature Olympic finalist Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson). The British champion’s indoor best, set in 2012, currently stands at 4.87m, and the 25 year old will have to come close to that height once again if she’s to take victory. Also competing in the non-Diamond Race event are Olympic champion Ekaterini Stefandini (GRE) and Sandi Morris (USA), a silver medallist in Rio.

Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer), a product of the Weir Archer Academy, competes in her first Diamond League as she lines up in the U20 mixed classification 400m. The T54 athlete has posted bests over five distances this season, including a 63.72 lifetime best over one-lap. She’ll be joined by T54 classmate Elizabeth Williams over the distance, Williams having shaved a near ten seconds off her 400m best this year with a 66.42 clocking back in June.

Other international highlights include: Renaud Lavillenie, Thiago Braz, Sam Kendricks (all in the pole vault), Ruth Bieta (high jump), Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs, Tom Walsh (all competing in the shot), Christian Taylor (triple jump), Thomas Rohler, Keshorn Walcott (both javelin), Kerron Clement (400m hurdles), Ruth Jebet (3000m steeplechase), Paul Chelimo and Hagos Gebrhiwet (both in the 5000m).

More information on the Zurich Diamond League can be found HERE.

Live coverage of the event can be found on Eurosport 2 tomorrow evening at 19:00.