Manyonga, Simbine and Samaai among headliners for London two-dayer

Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images

Friday's record-setting Herculis meeting in Monaco was but an aperitif for a bumper weekend of athletics which will see Africa's best athletes headlining the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London too.

South Africa's best sprinter Akani Simbine as well as long jump stars Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai are set to star at the Muller Anniversary Games, which will take place at the already iconic Olympic Stadium in England's capital.

Simbine should be in action twice on Saturday in the 100m. First, the 24-year-old will line-up in the heats alongside the likes of 2011 world champion Yohan Blake and a string of in-form Americans including Christian Coleman, Ronnie Baker, Isiah Young and Michael Rodgers.

Should all go according to plan, then Simbine will run again in the final at 15:50 (CAT) where he will undoubtedly look to prove that he remains a contender for big wins on the international circuit.

Simbine's fellow South Africans Wenda Nel (in the 400m hurdles at 15:04, CAT) and Sunette Viljoen (in the javelin throw from 15:09, CAT) will also be in action on Saturday with similar goals to him, finding form close to their best to better their chances of sealing places in next month's Diamond League finals.

Meanwhile, of further African interest on the opening day in London will be whether Botswana's Baboloki Thebe can dip into the 44s during the 400m at 15:55 (CAT) to give himself a chance of placing well and which of the continents 5000m stars come out triumphant at 16:05 (CAT). Current world champion Muktar Edris will be the favourite, but either of his Ethiopian compatriots Yomif Kejelcha or Hagos Gebrhiwet could win too ... and then there's the Kenyan threat of Cyrus Rutto, Bethwell Birgen and Richard Yator, not forgetting that Birhanu Balew -- the Ethiopia-born Bahraini -- ran a personal best and world lead of 13:01.09 in Lausanne earlier this month.

If the opening day in London doesn't provide enough intrigue then day two on Sunday will.

Again heats will be needed to trim down a field, this time in the women's 100m hurdles which will feature Nigerian star Tobi Amusan, who has one of the fastest season's bests, and South Africa's Rikenette Steenkamp who'd see it as a success to reach the 16:39 (CAT) final.

Meanwhile, the long jump competition from 15:31 (CAT) will essentially be a farewell for British jumper Greg Rutherford, who will retire at the end of the season. He won Olympic gold in the stadium in 2012, but would have to roll back the years to get the better of either Luvo Manyonga or Ruswahl Samaai. The South Africans duo bring out the best in each other and just a week ago -- during the Athletics World Cup in the selfsame stadium -- Manyonga jumped a series of 8.51m, 8.48m, 8.50m, and 8.50m to win gold.

It also suggests the scene of his crowning as world champion in 2017 is a happy hunting ground.

"I was crowned world champion here so it's like a coming back home feeling. Producing those distances last weekend [at the Athletics World Cup] shows I am in good shape. I am looking forward to a great competition, an exciting event, and to just go out there and enjoy it and have fun," Manyonga said during the pre-event press conference.

In non-Diamond League events on Sunday, South Africans Antonio Alkana and Ncincihli Titi will test their form in the 110m hurdles and 200m respectively, while Justus Soget, Vincent Kibet (both Kenya) and Youssouf Hiss Bachir (Djibouti) will fancy their chances in an 800m race.

Intriguingly, a handful of Africans will take part in a second Diamond League meeting for the weekend.

Nijel Amos won the 800m race in Monaco on Friday, but it was a non-Diamond League event there, whereas the race in London counts for points. The Motswana hasn't claimed any yet this season so needs a strong run to give himself a chance of qualifying for the finals next month. Standing in his way of another victory at 15:58 (CAT) will be Kenyans Wycliffe Kinyamal and Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir and the always competitive Pole, Adam Kszczot.

Similar to Amos, Marie-Josee Ta Lou also won at Stade Louis II but that was in the 100m to rubber-stamp her 2018 pre-eminence while Sunday's sprint is across 200m. While she does lead the series standings, the likes of Shericka Jackson (Jamaica), Jenna Prandini (USA) and world champion Dafne Schippers (Netherlands) will keep the Ivorian on her toes at 16:29 (CAT) -- while her compatriot Murielle Ahoure will hope to sneak into finals contention.

The final event of the weekend, the Millicent Fawcett Mile, should also provide fireworks. Laura Muir will be the local favourite and is aiming to break a national record set by South African Zola Budd 33 years ago when she represented Great Britain on the international scene.

However, the presence of 5000m world champion and last year's mile winner, Hellen Obiri, along with world medallists Jenny Simpson (USA), Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) and Winny Chebet (Kenya) should make for an action-packed race to close the Anniversary Games off on.