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Stuff that matters

The double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah has the talent, the track, and the conditions to finally break Florence Griffith Joyner’s 100m world record at the Diamond League final in Zurich, her fellow sprinter Andre De Grasse has predicted.

A fortnight ago Thompson-Herah ran 10.54 sec in Eugene – the second fastest time in history and just 0.05sec off Flo-Jo’s record. And De Grasse, who won 200m gold in Tokyo, believes it is possible she can make history given the warm weather and the newly resurfaced track at the Letzigrund Stadium.

“The track is really nice,” said De Grasse. “I did a couple sprint sessions on it on Tuesday so I think it’s possible. I saw Elaine run at Prefontaine on a very fast track and she ran exceptionally well. So I think with the right conditions, the way the weather is, the crowd, I think everything is just gonna amplify that. It’s definitely possible.”

Thompson-Herah, who spent lockdown studying Griffith Joyner and Usain Bolt’s old races to look for technical improvements, is now the fastest woman alive as well as the 100m and 200m champion. But she believes there is still room for improvement. “I need to nail my start for the 100m and I haven’t nailed it yet,” she said.

The Jamaican will meet Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, who is close to her best again after sustaining a hamstring injury five weeks out from the Olympics. Barely an hour later, Asher-Smith will resurface in the 200m, where she will face the 18-year-old Namibian sensation Christine Mboma and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson.

In total 17 Olympic champions will be competing in Zurich –including the world record holders Karsten Warholm in the 400m, Mondo Duplantis in the pole vault and Sifan Hassan in the 1500m. Each event will have a prize fund of $60,000 – with $30,000 going to every winner, along with a Diamond League trophy and a bye to the 2022 world championships in Eugene.

British eyes will particularly focus on the women’s 800m, where the Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson has a great chance of winning her first Diamond League in the absence of Athing Mu.

But the race of the night could come in the women’s 1500m where the Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon and the Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion Hassan are both going for a world record. There will be plenty of people to watch it too, with the race director Andreas Hediger saying “way more” than 20,000 tickets have been sold.