Australia’s leading pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall will make his debut in the Diamond League early tomorrow morning in Lausanne, Switzerland amongst an entry list that features world record holder Renaud Lavillenie, world leader Sam Kendricks and teenager Armand Duplantis.
The 20-year-old from South Australia recently made his way to Europe, basing himself in Cologne, Germany while he prepares for his first senior world championships appearance in August.
Since returning to competition after making his Olympic debut in Rio, Marschall has won his second open national title and set a new personal best of 5.72 last month at a competition in Cairns.
"Feeling super excited and very much looking forward to jumping against all the boys that will be there at world champs with me," Marschall said from Lausanne.
"Getting this opportunity to compete in a competition that I watch at home on TV, in awe, is an amazing feeling.
"You can't really estimate what the outcome will be but all I can do is give it a red hot crack.
"A PB would be nice, and let the rest sort itself out.
"I'm still not in Renaud's league yet, but it will be awesome to run shoulder to shoulder with the great man that's for sure."
Marschall narrowly missed out on making the final at the Olympics in Brazil, clearing 5.60 in the qualification round - an experience that will help him tonight in Lausanne.
"It does help, I know what it's like to compete in front of a huge crowd like that and it will certainly help me in terms of eliminating distraction and focusing on the task at hand," he said.
"And also jumping again with all these boys who I have already met will make the job a lot more comfortable."
The most decorated vaulter in Lausanne will be Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie who has been out of sorts on the runway of late with a season’s best of just 5.83 and a poor performance last weekend in Paris.
Marschall, who won silver at the world junior championships last year, will also be up against Duplantis, a 17-year-old from Sweden who has a personal best of 5.90 set back in April at the Texas Relays.
The Swede was the world youth champion in 2015 and won bronze behind Marschall at the U20 championships before his phenomenal performances this season.
He is quickly adapting to life as an athlete on the international circuit where plans to compete are often made just days prior to competition.
"I'm basing myself in Cologne, with my coach Kym Simons," Marschall said.
"Since it's our first time doing this on our own we are kind of just winging it, I've noticed everything is very last minute over here, so just going with the flow.
"Everything is coming together nicely (this season).
"I've made some good technical improvements in training and they are starting to show in competition.
"So I'm looking forward to putting it all together over here and coming away with lots of things learnt."
Looking towards the championships in the English capital, Marschall will be putting into practice his competition routine over the coming weeks.
"I think the main thing for me going into a major competition is to get my pre-competition routine right so that I have nothing to worry about when it comes time to put everything on the track," he explained.
"Also the in-competition routine of getting my head right and controlling the things I can control and not worrying about the other things that I can't.
"But most of all going out there and enjoying it."
Two Australians will run in the women’s mile with Linden Hall keen to build on her run in the Paris Diamond League and Jenny Blundell backing up after a 1500m in Barcelona last week.
Hall, who has a season best of 4:04.37, managed a respectable 4:08.55 at the Paris Diamond League meeting, behind Sifan Hassan who won in 3:57.10 – her third run well under four minutes this season.
A run of 4:10.92 in Spain will hopefully serve as a gentle return to racing for Blundell who has a season’s best of 4:07.72 which was set at the Shanghai Diamond League in May.
The pace will almost certainly be fast given Ethiopian star Genzebe Dibaba has been on a run of chasing world records this season, clocking 1:59 for 800m and 14:25 over 5000m this season.
Kathryn Mitchell features in the javelin competition and will look to build on her form this season that has seen her set a qualifying mark of 63.23 for the upcoming world championships.
She will be joined by compatriot Kelsey-Lee Roberts who recently threw a personal best of 64.06 in Finland to continue on from her domestic form where she won the Australian title in April.
Also throwing is Belarusian Tatsiana Khaladovich who placed fifth at the Rio Olympics and has a season’s best of 66.30 as well as two-time Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova who has thrown 65.14 in 2017.
-- You can watch the action live on Eurosport from 4:00am Friday morning AEST