IAAF Diamond League: Caster Semenya headlines Oslo event

Caster Semenya, seen here winning the 800m in Oslo in 2017, will look to add another Diamond League win to her records after triumphing in Eugene a few weeks ago. VIDAR RUUD/AFP/Getty Images

African athletes, including South Africa's Caster Semenya, will only feature in four IAAF Diamond League events at Thursday's Oslo Bislett Games, but they will be the headline events of the evening.

The first involvement of African athletes, during the women's 3000m steeplechase at 20:20 (CAT), will arguably the standout event of the evening; all three medallists from last year's IAAF World Championships in London will be in action.

A week ago in Rome, world champion Emma Coburn and bronze medallist Hyvin Kiyeng squared off against each other with the Kenyan emerging victorious in a meeting record time of 9.04.96.

However, Coburn will have her American teammate Courtney Frerichs (who ran the race of her life to win silver at London 2017) for company in Oslo, so will try to get inside the head of Kiyeng with a tactical race.

Kiyeng's compatriots Daisy Jepkemei and Purity Kirui (the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist) have run well this year, so the Kenyans may have a trick or two up their singlets too.

Next up on the Bislett track, at 20:35 (CAT), will be the women's 100m race, which will feature three African sprinters.

On reputation, Commonwealth Games champion Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago would be the favourite, but the fact is that Ivory Coast's Murielle Ahoure, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (Nigeria) and Carina Horn of South Africa have all run faster this season. All three have broken 11 seconds (Horn for the first time in her career in Doha), and Ahoure's world indoor 60m win proved she has big-race credentials.

So, Ahye and Briton Dina Asher-Smith should consider themselves the outsiders on Thursday evening.

The winner of the next race should be far easier to call, for there isn't a more certain winner in athletics than Caster Semenya in the 800m.

For 'company' on Thursday, Semenya will have Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba and Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia -- the only two who could distract the 26-year-old South African from her now-usual race against the clock.

In that regard, Semenya has a proper challenge on her hands. The track record is held by Jarmilo Kratochvilova who ran 1.55.04 in August 1983, just a few weeks after she set the longest standing world record in athletics.

Oslo doesn't feature prominently on the women's 800m time list, but at least Semenya has a personal best that is better than the second-fastest time ever run on the track -- Pamelo Jelimo's 1.55.41 of June 2008.

Judging by the 1.55.92 Semenya ran in Eugene a few weeks back, that Jelimo mark is a time within her reach on Thursday (at 20:45, CAT) and doing so would reaffirm her peerlessness in the two-lapper.

African athletics fans will have as much as an hour to savour whatever Semenya and her continental compatriots will have dished up, because only at 21:50 (CAT) will their interest be piqued again -- and for the last time -- when the Oslo Bislett Games' historic Dream Mile concludes the evening.

Though Elijah Manangoi won the Commonwealth Games 1500m title in April and was almost unbeatable during 2017, the Kenyan has been humbled quite a few times during the European season.

Manangoi's 2018 tormentor-in-chief, Timothy Cheruiyot, isn't running on Thursday but he'll nonetheless have to battle through the cheers of the crowd for the Ingebrigtsen brothers, Filip and Henrik, while Britain's Jake Wightman won the 1500m in this arena last year.