South Africans Caster Semenya, Carina Horn and Luxolo Adams will test themselves against the best athletes in the world on Friday, when the 10th leg of the IAAF Diamond League series takes place in Monaco.
Having set a new national record of 1:54.25 at the Paris meeting last month -- the fourth-fastest time in history and quickest in more than a decade -- Semenya will look to continue her dominance of the women's 800m at 21:25 (CAT) on the Stade Louis II track.
The 27-year-old Semenya faces a stern test from the likes of Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Ajee Wilson of the United States, but the reigning Olympic and world champion is expected to be too strong for the chasing pack which will also include four other Africans in Margaret Wambui, Emily Tuei (both Kenya), Ethiopia's Habitam Alemu and Rababe Arafi from Morocco. .
SA SPRINTERS NEED GIANT-KILLING ACT
Semenya and co. will be followed on track by Adams, featuring in his maiden Diamond League campaign, when he comes up against a stellar field in the men's 200m at 21:35 (CAT).
Lining up against the 21-year-old South African record-holder are world champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey, Commonwealth Games champion Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago and American youngster Noah Lyles, whose 19.69 personal best run at the Eugene meeting is comfortably the season's best too.
Horn, meanwhile, will also have to be at her best when she takes on an elite 100m field at 20:50 (CAT) in the Principality.
The South African record holder, who finally ran a sub-11 (10.98) in Doha in May, will get to measure herself against the in-form Ivorians Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Murielle Ahoure,Nigeria's Commonwealth Games champion Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, 200m world champion Dafne Schippers and Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica.
KENYA'S MIDDLE DISTANCE STARS TO THE LIGHT UP EVENING
As is usually the case at a Diamond League meeting, Kenyan athletes will again come to the fore throughout Friday evening.
Matthew Sawe will get their charge going at 20:10 (CAT) in the high jump while he'll still be in action five minutes later when Commonwealth Games 800m champion Jonathan Kitilit, Alfred Kipketer and Cornelius Tuwei try to outwit Botswana's Nijel Amos -- among others -- in a non-Diamond League two-lapper.
The 1500m at 21:00 (CAT) will again be a direct head-to-head between Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruyiot. Manangoi beat his training partner Cheruyiot to the world 1500m title last summer but the latter athlete has won their battles this season... Apart from their compatriot Charles Simotwo, fellow Africans Abdelaati Iguider (Morocco), Aman Wote (Ethiopia) and Ayanleh Souleiman (Djibouti) will also be on hand to claim victory if the two favourites focus too much on each other.
Kenyans will also be the favourites in the two stacked 3000m steeplechase races. The women's race takes place at 20:35 (CAT) and the series-leader Hyvin Kiyeng would usually be odds-on to claim another win. However, Beatrice Chepkoech beat her in Paris in a personal best-come-world lead of 8:59.36, as did Celliphne Chespol who comes off winning the world U-20 title last week and Norah Jeruto is also in good nick.
The men's race, the final event on the programme at 21:45 (CAT) before world-renowned DJ Martin Solveig rounds off the evening, will see Olympic and Commonwealth champion Conseslus Kipruto attempt to refind his rhythm to beat Benjamin Kigen -- who won in Rabat in a personal best of 8:06.19, the fastest run this year -- as well as Ethiopia's Chala Beyo (who also set a personal best last week), and Morocco's world silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali.
Ultimately, with the race to the IAAF Diamond League finals in its final throes, Friday night's action should be red-hot as already-qualified Semenya, Kiyeng, Ta Lou and co. seek to maintain form while the likes of Horn, Adams and others seek the points they need to seal places in Zürich or Brusssels.