Retired track star explains why the Diamond League Meeting series needs buffing

ATHLETICS Retired track star explains why the Diamond League Meeting series needs buffing

Abigael Wafula 12:00 - 02.12.2023

Retired Briton sprinter Katharine Merry has given her reasons why the Diamond League Meeting series needs to improve its standards.

Retired track star Katharine Merry has shared her insights on why the Diamond League Meeting standards need to change.

Speaking to Athletics Weekly, the Briton explained that the Diamond League has sparkled this year, but there needs to be more continuity to take full advantage of this impressive product.

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“The 2023 Diamond League Final has, with good reason, gone down as the best standalone two-day meeting ever in terms of quality.

It was a fitting culmination to five months of competition across four continents and 13 events,” she said.

She added that during the Prefontaine Classic, the Diamond League Meeting final, she was doing the in-stadium announcing and knew that they were in for a good weekend. 

This was after the first event, the men’s 400m hurdles, saw Rai Benjamin break the Diamond League record and set a world lead of 46.39, beating Karsten Warholm.

She added that the world records of Gudaf Tsegay and Mondo Duplantis were outstanding, but the fact there were also five Diamond League records, one world under-20 record, nine area records, 14 meeting records, and 14 world-leading marks tells its own story.

“A few athletes had points to prove and, for someone like the 200m Olympic champion Andre de Grasse, running his fastest time of the year (19.76) and landing such a high profile win right at the death will make a big difference to his winter,” she said.

The 2004 Olympic 400m bronze medallist observed that there have been some extraordinary moments throughout the Diamond League season.

“There has been no shortage of stories across the events and it will be interesting now to see if there are any tweaks made to the format for next year.

There were rumblings from the distance runners when the 10,000m was dropped but, then, the 5000m has seen two world records on the women’s side and been one of the most compelling events to watch,” she said.

However, she explained that there was a lot of unhappiness because certain events are not on the circuit, and have been totally ousted and are not able to get any air time, competition or money.

“I do think that it’s one of the standards that a lot of athletes, younger athletes in particular, aspire to. The fact that they are making these start lines is hugely encouraging, too.

That certainly won’t do any harm in trying to attract the younger audience which we keep being told is the key to the sport’s longevity.

Another thing which would help, in my opinion, would be to ensure some continuity across the whole series of meetings. This is one area where I think some work needs to be done,” she said.

She explained that she would love to see the Diamond Leagues all with the same format, with every meeting happening on the same day of the week and at the same time to get regularity for fans to know when the action is happening.

She added that from a fan’s point of view, she lamented that it is too hard too hard for people to find and watch.

“I know all these things are not that easy to do. But you have to try and, to be fair, I believe the sport is very much looking at how it might be able to do that.

I have heard a few athletes bemoan how difficult it can be to get a lane in a Diamond League and that it is becoming more and more exclusive. I don’t mind that, though,” she added.