Li Pin, deputy director of the China Athletics Administrative Center, announces the list of Chinese athletes for the May 12 IAAF Shanghai Diamond League during a launch ceremony on Thursday. （Photo provided to China Daily）
Organizers of the Shanghai Diamond League on Thursday revealed the first batch of track and field stars who will compete in the May 12 meet.
Meet director Ellen van Langen also took time to applaud the achievements and progress of Chinese athletes.
"There is an old expression that 'a single flower doesn't make a spring,' and I'm saying this because at this moment in Chinese athletics, there is not just one flower or one world-class athlete, but many more," said the former track star who won gold for the Netherlands in the women's 800m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
"In the last year, we have heard much good news from Chinese athletes at national games and world championships.
"We've seen how rapidly athletes like Gong Lijiao, Su Bingtian and Xue Changrui are growing in their respective fields.
"The Diamond League is very happy with the progress of Chinese athletes."
Over a dozen top athletes have been confirmed for the Diamond League meet, including Jamaican hurdler Omar McLeod, the reigning world and Olympic champion at 110m, who bagged gold in his previous two visits to Shanghai. Spain's Orlando Ortega, who lost to McLeod by a whisker in Shanghai last year, is also returning.
Justin Gatlin, who became the world 100m sprint champion by beating Usain Bolt at last year's IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, is set to square off against Ramil Guliyev of Turkey and China's sprint sensation Su Bingtian.
Su, who won the Diamond League event last year with a season-best time of 10.09 seconds, started 2018 on a bright note by becoming the first Chinese male sprinter to win a medal in a world championship event when he took silver in the 60m final at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, England.
On the women's side, reigning 200m world champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands will make her Shanghai debut alongside Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who won bronze in the 200 at the 2017 London world championships.
Away from the track, China's Gong Lijiao will look to defend her Diamond League shot put title following a phenomenal 2017 season that saw her win gold in London with a heave of 19.46 meters. Earlier this month, Gong won bronze at the world indoor championships in Birmingham.
"This will be my first outdoor competition of the season so I hope that I can get off to a good start by defending my title," said Gong.
"As Ellen mentioned, Chinese athletes are constantly improving and I hope that through my performance I can show how good we can be on the world stage."
Male pole vaulter Xue Changrui, who pulled out of last year's Shanghai Diamond League due to illness, said he is looking forward to competing this year and learning from his illustrious counterparts, such as 2017 world champion Sam Kendricks of the US.
Other big names set to compete on May 12 include Russian high jumper Mariya Lasitskene, Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen and 800m world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya.