Taylor relishing Diamond League challenge


Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix are among the notable absentees, but there will be no shortage of champions on show when the Diamond League season starts in Doha on Friday.

Sprint king Bolt is set to get his 2016 campaign going in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava on May 20 as he prepares for his final Olympic Games in Rio in August and will compete in the Diamond League meeting in London in July prior to heading to Brazil.

Fellow sprinter Felix will not add to her impressive tally of 11 victories in Doha due to an ankle injury, having clocked a Diamond League record of 21.98 seconds in the 200 metres last year.

However, Christian Taylor, Aries Merritt and Veronica Campbell-Brown will be among the athletes aiming to build momentum ahead of the extravaganza in Brazil when they take to the track in the capital of Qatar.

Olympic and world triple-jump champion Taylor plans to use the Diamond League as a springboard for further glory in Rio.

The American said: "I'm so grateful for a league like this, a circuit like this. It brings together all the top athletes.

"Everyone who is in the IAAF Diamond League are the people who are in world or Olympic finals. For me, mentally, it helped me get my head around belonging. If I can compete with these guys week after week, then I know what will come in August.

"I know the performances will be different - obviously different things happen at championships - but I know I can compete with the best. I'm so grateful for the Diamond League because it shows me where I stand with the rest of the world.

"I've been very fortunate the last four years to be part of it and to win the overall competition. If I'm able to compete with the best in the world to that point, then hopefully my confidence will be through the roof.

"Hopefully I'll be jumping 18 metres again by this point of the season, then take that energy to the [Olympic] Trials and prepare myself for Rio."

Merritt, the 110m hurdles world-record holder, had a kidney transplant last year and is aiming to kick on after winning bronze at the 2015 World Championship in Beijing

Campbell-Brown has seven Olympic medals to her name and the Jamaican will aim to show she is still a force to be reckoned with.

Kenyan trio Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto will also be eager to make their mark in the Diamond League, staged over 14 meetings each offering prize money of US$480,000.