Who will sparkle in the Diamond League?


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The Independent Online

The 2014 outdoor athletics season begins in earnest in Doha, Qatar, on Friday night with the first of 14 Diamond League meetings that span the Middle East, Asia, the United States and Europe.

Ten reigning Olympic champions will be in action in Doha alone. As the outdoor season approaches, we take a look at 10 potential story lines for the Diamond League this season.

Will Bolt continue to carry sport on his shoulders?

Speculation has swirled around the world's fastest man because of a foot injury over the winter. Although Usain Bolt has dismissed it as "nothing serious", he will not appear in the Diamond League until June. The whole sport desperately needs him to shine once more this season, and he usually comes good when it counts.

Can Britain's whizz-kids step up to the mark?

Hopes are high for British sprinting this season. James Dasaolu dipped under the 10-second barrier last year and was flying indoors until suffering an injury. If fit, he ought to emulate those feats. Likewise, Adam Gemili and the world indoor champion, Richard Kilty, could join him under that 10sec mark.

Is Rudisha still invincible?

David Rudisha was due to race for the first time in nearly a year since a knee injury derailed his 2013 season after just two races. But the Olympic 800m champion pulled out yesterday with a calf injury, which may reinforce rumours that the Kenyan is no longer at his best.

Will Farah get his Mo-jo back?

Much was made about Mo Farah's marathon debut after he opted to swap the track for the road. That move stalled with a disappointing London Marathon performance, and Farah returns to the track with something to prove. Glasgow in July is his only Diamond League venue, and we shall see if his track speed has been diluted by the road.

Which Dibaba is the best?

Tirunesh Dibaba will head back to the track this summer after her impressive third-place debut in the London Marathon. But she may not even be the best Dibaba in 2014, with younger sister Genzebe, who is set to run the 3,000m in Doha, posting two world records as she blazed a trail during the indoor season.

Can Adams ever be beaten?

The New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams has gone 46 meetings, over four years, without defeat. At some point her standards will slip but she still has a way to go to beat the 11-year winning streak enjoyed by former high jumper Iolanda Balas between 1956 and 1967.

So how fast can Fraser-Pryce go?

The sprint achievements of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are often overshadowed by those of fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt, but her consistency has been remarkable over recent seasons. Fraser-Pryce won the Diamond League for both the 100m and 200m last season. Now all she needs is the world record over both distances.

Drugs will never go away

Drug always flare up at some stage. Last year, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell stole the headlines, while the two-year ban handed to Liliya Shobukhova turns the spotlight back on to perennial offenders Russia.

Javier mark in danger

It is 21 years since high jumper Javier Sotomayor became the only man to beat the 8ft mark with his world record of 2.43 metres. This year that height could be beaten. Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, potentially more famous for jumping drunk, cleared 2.42m in February but could be pushed for the record by Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko.

Lavillenie is aiming high

One long-standing world record that has already gone this season is Sergey Bubka's pole-vault mark, like Sotomayor's record set in 1993. Appropriately, France's Renaud Lavillenie beat it in Bubka's home town of Donetsk with his vault of 6.16m. Lavillenie insists he can go higher yet outdoors.