• Ryuji Miura has won at this meeting for the past two years, setting a national record of 8:17.46 – while still an U20 – in 2021, before taking a more comfortable victory in 2022.
• World champions Fred Kerley, Wang Jianan and Kelsey-Lee Barber are among the star attractions in the event.
A week after winning on home soil in Nairobi, Kenya’s Amos Kirui will line up against one of Japan’s bright hopes in the men’s steeplechase at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix – a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting – in Yokohama on Sunday, May 21.
Ryuji Miura has won at this meeting for the past two years, setting a national record of 8:17.46 – while still an U20 – in 2021, before taking a more comfortable victory in 2022.
An 8:09.92 performer at his best, Miura will start as an equal favourite in what will be his first steeplechase race of 2023.
Kirui, meanwhile, beat a strong field at the Kip Keino Classic last week in 8:18.45 in the altitude of Nairobi. The conditions in Yokohama should be kinder, but the crowd will be cheering for their home star Miura.
Nozomi Tanaka will also get a warm reception from the crowd when she lines up for the women’s 1,500m. The national record-holder and Olympic finalist has already raced a lot so far this year and may need to produce a season’s best to give her a chance against USA’s Dani Jones, who finished two seconds ahead of Tanaka in an indoor mile back in February.
World champions Fred Kerley, Wang Jianan and Kelsey-Lee Barber are among the star attractions in the event.
Kerley heads to the Japanese city off the back of three victories over the longer sprint distances. He started his 2023 campaign with a 20.32 win over 200m in Melbourne, then ran 44.65 for 400m two weeks later. More recently he won the 200m at the Diamond League meeting in Doha in 19.92.
Sunday’s race will be his first outing of the year at 100m – the distance at which he won the world title last year.
With a best of 9.76, the 28-year-old US sprinter is significantly quicker than all of his rivals in Yokohama, but Japanese duo Yoshihide Kiryu and Yuki Koike will do their best to stay in touch with Kerley, as will Australia’s Rohan Browning.
The field for the men’s long jump appears more evenly matched and should be a highly competitive contest.
Wang Jianan will be contesting his first competition outside of China since winning the world long jump title last year. He competed twice during the indoor season, leaping 8.01m and 8.09m but the Chinese record-holder may need to go farther on Sunday if he hopes to win against a strong field.
World and Olympic finalist Yuki Hashioka has jumped 8.11m already this year, while Japanese record-holder Shoutarou Shiroyama is close to eight-metre form. Australia’s Henry Frayne and China’s Zhang Jingqiang are also in the line-up.
Two-time world javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber will get her international campaign under way. The 31-year-old has competed just once so far this year, finishing second at the Australian Championships with 57.05m but the field in Sunday’s competition will likely inspire her to throw beyond 60 metres.
World bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi is the in-form athlete, though, and she will be cheered on by an enthusiastic home crowd. The Japanese thrower heads to Yokohama off the back of strong showings in Hiroshima (64.50m) and Osaka (64.43m).
Commonwealth silver medallist Mackenzie Little – who beat Barber to the Australian title last month – and Latvia’s world finalist Lina Muze should ensure a competitive contest.