Martyn Rooney and Emily Diamond amongst world class athletes set for Folksam Grand Prix, Sweden

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Emily Diamond, Finette Agyapong, Amy Allcock and Zoey Clark at the Athletics World Cup in 2018. Photo: MV4R Photography

Fresh from the water-logged track in Geneva, Emily Diamond continues her quality form on the continent tomorrow for the first of this year’s Folksam Grand Prix in Sweden.

The small town of Sollentuna to the north of Stockholm will tomorrow welcome world-class athletes from around the globe for the first Folksam Grand Prix of the season, a European classic meeting.

Despite the weather conditions in Geneva last weekend, Diamond and the rest of a strong British contingent had a glistening day at the oval office, with all 6 female 400m athletes achieving a sub-53 second clocking. British indoor bronze medallist and GB junior Amber Anning finished strong in her heat to clock 52.64, her first taste of a 52 performance. Diamond had a very strong finish in her heat as well, crossing the line in almost the exact same time as Amy Allcock, both hunting down the winner, Deborah Sananes of France.

 Tomorrow Diamond will look to improve on her 52.27 second performance from Saturday afternoon, with fellow one-lap specialists Martyn Rooney and Yousif Rabat joining her for a taste of the Swedish action.

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Emily will go in the 400m A Race at 19.10pm local time, with her 2016 personal best time of 51.23 putting her second fastest in the field on paper. Ahead of her is 2012 European bronze medallist Moa Hjelmer of Sweden with a lifetime best of 51.13 set back in 2012, although she hasn’t run a sub-52 second time since. She competed in Stockholm at the end of last month and clocked 54.18 and also a 23.51 seconds for the 200m in Sollentuna just last week. More likely to add some heat to this 400m A Race is 23-year-old US collegiate Maggie Barrie of Sierra Leone. The Ohio State University student ran a lifetime best of 51.36 seconds in the states last May and clocked 52.36 last week in Šamorín, Slovakia.

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Rooney and Yousif are also top of their class on paper for the Men’s 400m A Race, with their 44.45 and 44.54 performances from 2015. Yousif has clocked 46.05 this season so far in Bydgoszcz, Poland on 12th June and he was part of the quartet alongside Rooney that finished 5th at the World Relays in Yokohama at the beginning of May. Rooney is yet to set a season’s best over the 400m in 2019, but his split time of 45.6 in Yokohama was the quickest amongst the British team. The now 32-year-old decorated GB international has been getting some quick 200m times under his belt instead at the start of 2019, with a 21.65 achieved in Loughborough at the end of May.

Moving to the home straight, there’s a big US presence in the 100m and hurdles, with 2019 World 4x200m champion Chris Belcher one of only two athletes entered with a sub-10 second lifetime best. The 2017 US bronze medallist will be up against Kemar Hyman of the Cayman Islands who finished 5th at the Gold Coast Commonwealth games over the 100m and has a 100m lifetime best of 9.95 set in 2012.

There’s more Caribbean talent in the form of 2013 world champion Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago and 2015 world bronze medallist Jeffery Gibson of the Bahamas going head to head in the 400m hurdles A Race.

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University of Kentucky sprinter Javianne Oliver goes in the 100m alongside Crystal Emmanuel of Canada. Oliver set her lifetime time of 11.10 in Oregon last May and has recently clocked 11.44 in Florida. The Canadian sprint champion’s lifetime best is just a fraction slower, 11.11, but her recent season’s best time of 11.19 in Finland last week demonstrates she’s in top form heading into Sollentuna Grand Prix.

No stranger to the world stage is also Kenyan athlete Mercy Cherono who’ll go in the 1500m in Sollentuna. The 2013 world silver medallist and Commonwealth Games gold medallist over the 5000m, steps down a distance tomorrow in Sweden. She announced her comeback from a long maternity break this February, as she’s been out of the sport for more than 2 years. At her best, the Kenyan clocked 4:01.26 back in 2015, and she aims to get back to her winning ways over the next few seasons.

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