Following in the wake of the announcement that Liu Xiang, Jason Richardson, Asafa Powell and Andreas Thorkildsen have signed up for the Shanghai leg of the Samsung Diamond League on May 19th, the organisers have released an impressive start-list including no fewer than eight Olympic champions and 30 world champions.At the head of the list is Kenenisa Bekele who competes in the 5000m. After dropping out of the Daegu world championships 10,000m, it was thought that Bekele’s reign was over, but he bounced back two weeks later with a sub-27min clocking in Brussels.Then only last month in Dublin he crushed the opposition with a 27:47 10km on the roads, fastest in the world this year, to signal he was as fit as ever. As defending champion in both the 5000m and 10000m, Shanghai will show just how determined Bekele is to retain his Olympic crowns.The men’s triple jump offers the highest quality with all three medallists from last summer’s world championships looking for an early-season psychological advantage. World champion, Christian Taylor of the USA, silver medallist, Great Britain’s Phillips Idowu and bronze medallist, the USA’s Will Claye, promise fireworks. Claye defeated Taylor in the world indoor championships so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in Shanghai.Following injury, the Asian record holder at 17.59m, Li Yanxi, will be hoping to use Shanghai as a springboard for Olympic qualification, something his team-mates, Dong Bin and Cao Shuoshi have already achieved after their excellent marks in the Zhaoqing grand prix in April.The pole vault welcomes the outstanding Olympic champion, Steve Hooker of Australia, who will attempt to get his career back on track after failing to clear a height in Daegu. He comes up against a resurgent Brad Walker of the USA who, five years after carrying off the world title in Osaka, returned this winter to lift the world indoor title. Season leader, Björn Otto of Germany, and Chinese hope, national record holder with 5.75, Yang Yansheng, are also in the field.The men’s 400m hurdles is a three-way clash between the double Olympic champion, Angelo Taylor, former world champion, Bershawn Jackson and the fastest man in the world last year, South African LJ van Zyl. Curiously, it was only van Zyl who was to figure in the final of last year’s world championships when he took bronze while the two be-medalled Americans finished down the field in sixth and seventh. Shanghai could give us some indication of just how permanent American decline is in this their traditionally strong event.Olympic and world 1500m champion, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, steps down a distance to the 800m to face the reigning European champion, Marcin Lewandowski of Poland as well as formidable two-lap specialists, former world champions, Alfred Kirwa Yego of Kenya and South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi.A fascinating addition is the presence of last year’s world youth champion, Leonard Kosencha Kirwa of Kenya. At the age of 16, Kosencha Kirwa clocked the formidable time of 1:44:08, a world youth record, to lift the title in Villeneuve d’Ascq and suggest that once again this East African nation has produced yet another champion for the future.Double Olympic javelin champion Thorkildsen, confronts his nemesis from Daegu in the form of Matthias de Zordo of Germany as well as last year’s Shanghai winner and old adversary, Tero Pitkämäki of Finland, 2007 world champion. This is a big year for Thorkildsen if he wants to claim his place alongside Jan Zelezny of the former Czechoslovakia as one of the greats of javelin throwers. Zelezny is the only man so far to lift three Olympic titles (1992, 1996, 2000) so London takes on immense importance for Thorkildsen. Five Olympics is the longest the USA has had to go without a win in the shot at the Olympics (1972 – 1988). But they have failed to lift gold at the last three Olympics and after being out of the medals in Daegu, they must be desperate to end the drought.Shanghai sees the American squad at full strength with world and Olympic medallists, Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson and 2012 world indoor champion, Ryan Whiting, looking to dominate. Last year’s world leader, Dylan Armstrong of Canada, may have other ideas.The face-off between Carmelita Jeter and Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 200m has already been flagged up, but quality clashes abound in other disciplines like the 1500m.The youngest of the Dibaba sisters, Genzebe, 21, comes off a highly successful indoor campaign where she lifted world indoor 1500m gold and set an excellent personal best of 4:00:13, fifth fastest in history. That time is over five seconds faster than her outdoor best from last year, so this latest Dibaba model is also clearly destined for great things. World indoor 3000m gold, Helen Obiri of Kenya and former 800m world champion and fellow-Kenyan, Janeth Jepkosgei, will test the young Ethiopian’s strength and speed.Amantle Montsho of Botswana carried all before her last year, culminating in gold in Daegu. Fellow one-lap finalists, USA’s Francena McCorory and Jamaicans, Shericka Williams and Novlene Williams-Mills are her main rivals in the Shanghai stadium. Apart from Chinese eyes being riveted on Liu Xiang, the women’s discus will also be a focus. Though world champion, Yanfeng Li, is not in the line-up there is considerable interest in two hopefuls, Fei Yang and Xinyue Su, who will face current world number three, Sandra Perkovic of Croatia.