July 2, 2014
The first of two Diamond League meets in three days takes place on Thursday in Switzerland at the Athletissima Lausanne (Paris is Saturday).
The meet is absolutely loaded from a field event/sprint standpoint. The HJ stars led by Bohdan Bondarenko and Mutaz Essa Barshim will go for the world record; following the reduction of his doping ban to one year for cooperating with USADA, Tyson Gay returns to face Justin Gatlin in the men’s 100 (Gay hasn’t raced since last year’s Lausanne where he won the 100 in 9.79 seconds); Yohan Blake runs a DL 200 for the first time in nearly two years; Kirani James vs LaShawn Merritt in the 400; the three fastest women in the world in the women’s 100 (Tori Bowie, Michelle-Lee Ahye and VCB); the unbeatable Valerie Adams in the shot; Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault and Caterine Ibarguen in the triple.
You can read the IAAF preview that focuses on thoese events here: IAAF Lausanne Preview.
Mid-d and distance wise, Paris on Saturday, where Galen Rupp will make a 5000 American record attempt, is more star-studded than Lausanne, but there are still some big names on hand including Matt Centrowitz and Silas Kiplagat in the men’s 1500, Genzebe Dibaba and Mercy Cherono in the women’s 3000, and Brenda Martinez and Eunice Sum in the women’s 800.
We preview the mid-d/distance events below and examine Centrowitz’s Diamond League struggles, a possible threat to Sum and why Dibaba won’t be able to break the world record.
Men’s 1500 (2:48 p.m. ET): Matthew Centrowiz Goes For A PB Against Silas Kiplagat
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|BIRGEN Bethwell||06.08.1988||KEN||3:30.77||3:31.22||9th in Oslo DL mile on June 11; 7th at Kenyan Commonwealth trials|
|CENTROWITZ Matthew||18.10.1989||USA||3:31.96||3:35.44||World silver medalist skipped USAs to run fast here; 8th at Pre (5/31) and Oslo (6/11)|
|CHEBOI Collins||25.09.1987||KEN||3:31.53||3:32.30||4th at Kenyan Commonwealth trials; 6th at Pre and Rome (6/5)|
|CHEPSEBA Nixon Kiplimo||12.12.1990||KEN||3:29.77||3:34.64||Worlds 4th-placer was 13th (in Doha 5/9) and 8th (Kenyan Commonwealth trials 6/7) in last 2 races|
|GEBREMEDHIN Mekonnen||11.10.1988||ETH||3:31.45||7th at Worlds last year; 6th in Oslo mile|
|IGUIDER Abdelaati||25.03.1987||MAR||3:31.47||3:32.09||Olympic/World indoor bronze medalist ran 3:49.09 mile at Pre; just 9th in last race in Marrakesh, Morocco in 3:38|
|INGEBRIGTSEN Henrik||24.02.1991||NOR||3:33.95||3:38.53||European champ set NR with 3:50 mile at Oslo DL; won 3k at Euro Team Champs on 6/22|
|KIPLAGAT Silas||20.08.1989||KEN||3:29.27||3:29.70||Won last time out at Rome DL; 3:47 for 2nd at Pre mile; also 2nd in Doha on 5/9|
|KWEMOI Ronald||18.09.1995||KEN||3:34.6h||3:34.6h||18-year-old was surprise winner of Kenyan Commonwealth trials; makes DL debut here|
|MAGUT James Kiplagat||20.07.1990||KEN||3:30.61||3:30.61||3rd at Kenyan Commonwealth trials; 5th at Pre|
|MAIYO Hillary Kipkorir||02.10.1993||KEN||3:35.43||3:36.21||Rabbit|
|MEKHISSI BENABBAD Mahiedine||15.03.1985||FRA||3:33.12||4-time global medalist in steeple ran 2:17.18 for 1k on June 27|
|ÖZBILEN Ilham Tanui||05.03.1990||TUR||3:31.30||3:32.09||Quick 2:15 1k on June 17 but just 6th (1500) + 12th (800) at Euro Team Champs 6/21-22|
|ROTICH Andrew Kiptoo||24.12.1987||KEN||3:43.43||Rabbit|
|TESFAYE Homiyu||23.06.1993||GER||3:31.98||3:31.98||Ethiopian-born German was 3rd in Oslo, 2nd at Euro Team Champs; 5th at Worlds last year|
|WOTE Aman||18.04.1984||ETH||3:30.86||3:30.86||World indoor silver medalist was 3rd at Pre; later 7th in Rome and 3rd in Marrakesh on June 8|
The most interesting storyline here from an American perspective is how will Matt Centrowitz do? Centrowitz skipped USAs to try and run fast in Lausanne and if he can’t accomplish that he’s going to look pretty foolish. While we still don’t like the fact that Centrowitz blew off USAs (there are seven more Diamond League meets after Lausanne — it’s not as if Centrowitz won’t have other opportunities to run fast), we do think he has a good shot to improve on his 3:31.96 PR.
First, Lausanne is clearly a place Centrowitz feels comfortable. He ran his PR here in 2012 and the fact that he skipped USAs for this meet (instead of running at USAs and waiting for Monaco on July 18 — where Asbel Kiprop ran 3:27.72 last year to lead six men under 3:32) suggests that he likes the track in Lausanne — or that he’s ready to go fast right now.
Second, Centrowitz has been running faster so far this year than he did at through the same time period in 2012 (when he was fourth at the Olympics) and 2013 (silver at Worlds). Check out the chart below: (Note: We didn’t look at 2011 since Centrowitz was still at Oregon and hence wasn’t running a lot of fast 1500s/miles.)
Matt Centrowitz in early-season 1500s/miles
3:57.44 mile (8th – Pre, 6/1)
3:37.27 1500 (6th – Oxy, 5/17)
3:35.44 1500 (1st – Oxy, 5/15)
3:37.22 1500 (4th – Harry Jerome, 6/10)
3:51.79 mile PR (10th- Pre, 6/1 )
3:50.53 mile PR (8th – Pre/5/31)
In 2012, Centros started slowly and was only second in his third 1500 at USAs. In 2013, he ran a PR at Pre, followed that with an 800 PR in Portland and then won the 1500 at USAs. 2014 was his best month of May ever and though he struggle over the final 300 in Oslo in his third race on June 11 and faded to a 3:52.23, he’s clearly in good shape. It’s hard to tell whether Centrowitz is running faster in 2014 than previous years because there’s no championship to peak for or simply because he’s still improving. It’s likely a bit of both.
Side note: Centrowitz’s mile at the 2012 Pre Classic was from the International Mile, not the Bowerman Mile. That’s right: Centrowitz, the bronze medalist at Worlds the previous year, ran in the B heat at Pre as he was coming back from an early season injury. Amazingly, Centrowitz ran just 3:57 and was eighth in the International Mile but still got up for fourth in the Olympics two months later.
The argument against Centrowitz running a PR is that he’s not good in paced races. For a man who’s won two World Championship medals, his 3:31.96 PR isn’t blazing and he’s broken 3:34 just three times.
He’s sort of the opposite of Andrew Wheating. We recently heard it said by his coach Mark Rowland we believe that Andrew Wheating has run world-class times but isn’t world class. Centrowitz has only occasionally run world-class times but is world class.
Given his championship pedigree, Centrowitz is shockingly mediocre in Diamond League races. The numbers speak for themselves.
Centrowitz’s finishes in 13 career DL races: 11th, 10th, 11th, 3rd, 8th, 4th, 10th, DNF, 8th, 16th(!), 12th, 8th, 8th.
Centrowitz’s finishes in 3 career Worlds/Olympics: 3rd, 4th, 2nd
Those numbers make Centrowitz’s decision to skip USAs even more puzzling. Since he can’t run Commonwealths or Europeans, the USAs is the only championship race Centrowitz could have run this year (he could have done the Contintental Cup as well but he would have had to run USAs to be eligible for selection). Perhaps Centrowitz wants to get in as many DL races as he can this year to improve in paced races. Or perhaps he has a large bonus in his Nike contract if he breaks 3:30. The main point is this: Centrowitz had better run fast in Lausanne or he’ll have skipped USAs for nothing.
Who will win?
Looking at who will win the race, the smart pick is Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat, who is the opposite of Centrowitz: he runs like a stud on the Diamond League circuit but doesn’t always match that performance in championship races. Kiplagat did win the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and took silver at Worlds in 2011, but he was just 7th at the 2012 Olympics and 6th at the 2013 Worlds. That’s normally a great string of success for a runner, but Kiplagat has seven wins on the DL circuit over the past three years (tied for the most with Kiprop). You’d expect a guy who wins that much to finish better than sixth at the global championships during that span. Still, Lausanne is a DL event and since Kiplagat hasn’t finished lower than second in his last six DL races (winning last time out in Rome on June 5), he’s the favorite here.
Women’s 3000 (2:13 p.m. ET): Genzebe Dibaba Looks For Payback
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|AYANA Almaz||21.11.1991||ETH||8:24.58||8:24.58||Bronze at Worlds in 5k last year; 14:37 for 2nd in Rome last time out|
|BAHTA Meraf||26.06.1989||SWE||8:58.55||Eritrean-born Bahta won Mt. SAC 5k then 14:59 at Payton Jordan; 4:03 1500 in Hengelo on June 8|
|CHEPTAI Irine Chebet||04.02.1992||KEN||8:56.20||9:11.30||8th at Kenyan Commonwealth trials in 5k; just 17th in Doha DL 3k on May 9|
|CHERONO Mercy||07.05.1991||KEN||8:21.14||8:21.14||World silver medalist won 3k in NY on June 14 and 5k at Kenyan Commonwealth trials on June 7|
|DIBABA Genzebe||08.02.1991||ETH||8:26.21||8:26.21||World indoor record-holder ran world-leading 14:34 5k in Rome, 5:27 2k on June 17|
|GEZAHEGNE Kalkidan||08.05.1991||BRN||8:38.61||8:42.54||2010 World indoor 1500 champ was 3rd in NY in 8:42|
|HAROYE Alemitu||09.05.1995||ETH||8:45.93||8:45.93||19-year-old ran 14:52 5k in Rome, 8:45 3k in Doha in only ’14 races|
|JELAGAT Irene||10.12.1988||KEN||8:28.51||8:28.51||4th at World indoor 3k; 4:04 1500 at NY DL on June 14|
|KIBIWOT Viola Jelagat||22.12.1983||KEN||8:24.41||8:24.41||4th at Worlds in 5k; 3rd in Rome 5k in 14:40|
|KISA Janet||05.03.1992||KEN||8:51.63||8:59.03||14:52 in Rome|
|NDIWA Stacey Chepkemboi||06.12.1992||KEN||4th at Kenyan Commonwealth trials in 1500|
|OLJIRA Belaynesh||26.06.1990||ETH||8:40.73||Bronze at Worlds in 10k last year; 11th at Boston Marathon in 2:24 in April|
|PLIŚ Renata||05.02.1985||POL||8:40.42||8:52.55||7th at World indoor 3k; 4:10 1500 in Sweden on June 26|
|SAINA Betsy||30.06.1988||KEN||8:40.65||8:40.65||2012 NCAA XC champ ran 10-sec PB of 8:40 in NY; 2nd in BAA 10k on June 22|
|TEFERI Senbere||03.05.1995||ETH||8:41.54||8:41.54||19-year-old took World Junior bronze in 1500 in ’12; 5:34 2k in Ostrava June 17|
|TIROP Agnes Jebet||23.10.1995||KEN||8:39.13||8:47.26||18-year-old took 2012 World Junior bronze in 5k; 5th in Kenyan Commonwealth trials at 5k|
There are two ways to look at this race.
One, this race is basically a rematch of the Rome DL 5,000 on June 5, where world indoor 3k champ/world record holder Genzebe Dibaba pulled away to win in 14:34. 2013 World 5k bronze medalist Almaz Ayana (second, 14:37), World 5k 4th-placer Viola Kibiwot (third, 14:40) and World 5k silver medalist Mercy Cherono (fourth, 14:43) all return from Rome as well and should provide strong competition, but after her dominant indoor season and a win in Rome, Dibaba has to be considered the favorite here.
The second way to look at it given the fact that it’s a 3000 is that it also is a pseudo-rematch of May’s Doha 3000. That was the meet that shattered Dibaba’s aura of invincibility as she was only sixth and three women in this field – Cherono, Ayana, and Kibiwot – beat her. Apart from that hiccup (where she only ran 8:26 after leading much of the race), Dibaba has been unbeatable in 2014 so expect that to continue here.
Dibaba has clearly focused on breaking records this year (she broke WRs at 1500, mile and 3000 indoors and recently took two cracks at the world 2k record of 5:25). The question is whether Dibaba can get close to Hellen Obiri‘s 8:20.68 from Doha in May (the fastest time outdoors not run by a Chinese woman on September 12-13, 1993) or even 8:16.60 (Dibaba’s indoor world record from February). It would certainly help to have Obiri pushing her — indeed, we’re a little bummed that Obiri won’t be able to race here as she’s in the LOADED Paris 1500 on Saturday instead.
We’re disappointed that Dibaba doesn’t have the chance to break the world record for 3000 outdoors.
The world record is 8:06.11 by Wang Junxia, a time no one has come within 14 seconds of since, and the top six marks are all held by Chinese women strongly believed to have been doping. In fact, the women’s 800 and 1500 world records are also extremely suspicious (1:53.28 by Jarmila Kratochvilova of Czechoslovakia and 3:50.46 by Qu Junxia of China) which means that it’s highly unlikely we’ll be seeing a world record in those distances in the near future. It’s a shame because chasing world records is one of the only exciting storylines during an off year. On the men’s side, David Rudisha broke the 800 world record twice during the last off year (2010) and there’s been talk this season aboutAsbel Kiprop chasing Hicham El Guerrouj‘s 3:26.00 world record in the 1500. Those are the kinds of possibilities that keep the sport interesting without a major championship but unfortunately the women’s world records are so out of reach that it’s silly to even discuss them. We feel bad for Dibaba and also Obiri, whose 8:20.68 in Doha would be the world record in an idea world.
Side note: It’s actually laughable how some of those records are still on the books. On September 8, 1993 Wang Junxia ran 29:31 to break the 10,000 world record. On September 10, she ran 4:01 for 1500. On September 11, she ran 3:51 for 1500. On September 12, she ran 8:12 for 3000. And on September 13, she ran 8:06 for 3000. That’s four inhuman performances in six days with a 4:01 thrown in for good measure.
Women’s 800 (3:08 p.m. ET): Eunice Sum and Molly Beckwith Look To Stay Hot, Brenda Martinez Looks To Rebound
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|AKKAOUI Malika||25.12.1987||MAR||1:57.64||2:00.58||Won Moroccan 400 title on June 21 (54.67)|
|ARZAMASOVA Marina||17.12.1987||BLR||1:59.30||1:59.65||3rd at World indoors|
|ASSEFA Tigist||01.01.1994||ETH||1:59.97||1:59.97||17-year-old broke 2:00 in France on June 27|
|BECKWITH Molly||04.08.1987||USA||1:59.12||1:59.35||Consistently around 2:00 this season; SB to take 3rd at USAs|
|BÜCHEL Selina||26.07.1991||SUI||2:01.66||2:02.84||4th at World indoors but just 2:02.84 since then|
|JEPKOSGEI Janeth||13.12.1983||KEN||1:56.04||2:00.20||2007 World champ has yet to break 2:00 this year; came closest in Oslo on June 11|
|JERUTO Agatha||02.04.1994||KEN||2:00.95||2:00.95||7th in Oslo; 2:01.27 in France on June 27|
|MARTINEZ Brenda||08.09.1987||USA||1:57.91||1:59.24||World bronze medalist hasn’t been in same form in ’14; just 5th at USAs|
|POISTOGOVA Yekaterina||01.03.1991||RUS||1:57.53||1:58.55||Olympic bronze medalist ran 1:58.55 on May 30; making DL season debut|
|SHARP Lynsey||11.07.1990||GBR||2:00.09||2:00.09||Euro gold medalist and British champ|
|SUM Eunice Jepkoech||10.04.1988||KEN||1:57.38||1:59.02||World champ has won 11 straight 800s including all three DL events in 2014|
Helped by the absence of 2011 World/2012 Olympic champ Mariya Savinova of Russia, who has not raced at all in 2013, Kenya’s Eunice Sum has dominated the women’s 800 so far this year. Sum has won all three Diamond League 800s this year and has looked fairly comfortable in doing so. Hard to believe Athletics Kenya tried to pull her from the Rome Diamond League meet this season because of a “dip in form.”
So who can stop Sum in Lausanne? Not Ajee Wilson. The newly-crowned U.S. champ isn’t racing again until Glasgow next weekend and even if she did would have a hard time defeating Sum, who beat Wilson by .69 in Rome and .66 in Oslo in the last two DL meets. The best bet to topple Sum in this field is Russia’s Olympic bronze medalist Yekaterina Poistogova. Poistogova, who was a disappointing fifth at Worlds in Russia last year, changed coaches after a poor indoor season where she failed to make the finals in Russia with an embarrassing 2:05 showing and now works with Savinova’s coach, Vladimir Semenovich. The switch appears to be working. Poistogova is #2 on the 2014 outdoor list after a 1:58.55 in Sochi on May 30 and she’s 4-for-4 since switching coaches. However, Sum is still the heavy favorite and represents a big step up from the European competition Poistogova has been facing.
The two Americans in the field are going in opposite directions. 2013 bronze medallist Brenda Martinez was 10th in the Oslo 800, eighth in the New York DL 1500 in 4:06 (behind four other Americans) and just fifth at USAs. Molly Beckwith, meanwhile, broke 2:00 for the first time since 2012 on June 17 in Ostrava and followed that up with a 1:59.35 for third at USAs. Beckwith’s PR is 1:59.12 so she is definitely ready to threaten that and perhaps run 1:58.
Men’s 3000 steeplechase (3:28 p.m. ET): Conseslus Kipruto Returns
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|BIRECH Jairus Kipchoge||14.12.1992||KEN||8:02.37||8:02.37||2014 World leader won last 2 DL meets in Oslo and Rome|
|HUGHES Matthew||03.08.1989||CAN||8:11.64||8:29.65||Pay attention Centro: Hughes won Canadian champs on June 28 and will race here 5 days later|
|KEMBOI Clement Kimutai||01.01.1992||KEN||8:16.96||8:16.96|
|KIPRUTO Brimin Kiprop||31.07.1985||KEN||7:53.64||8:04.64||2008 Olympic champ was 2nd in Doha on 5/9 and 3rd in Rome but just 10th in Oslo|
|KIPRUTO Conseslus||08.12.1994||KEN||8:01.16||World silver medalist makes season debut here|
|KIPSANG Lawrence Kemboi||01.01.1993||KEN||8:19.90||8:19.90|
|KOECH Paul Kipsiele||10.11.1981||KEN||7:54.31||8:05.47||4th at Worlds last year; 4th in Oslo, 2nd in Rome|
|MUTAI Abel Kiprop||02.10.1988||KEN||8:01.67||8:15.83||Olympic bronze medalist has yet to run fast in 2014|
|NDIKU Jonathan Muia||18.09.1991||KEN||8:07.75||8:10.72|
|YEGO Hillary Kipsang||02.04.1992||KEN||8:03.57||8:09.07||3rd in Oslo last time out|
The final distance event of the meet is the men’s steeplechase.
It should be an interesting race. 21-year-old Kenyan Jairus Birech, who has taken over the event this season, running a world-leading 8:02 and winning the last two Diamond League events, leads the field. 2008 Olympic champ Brimin Kipruto is in the field as is Paul Kipsiele Koech but we’re interested in seeing how 19-year-old Conseslus Kipruto does in his 2014 debut on the circuit.
Last year, as an 18-year-old, Kipruto emerged as the apparent future of the event as he won in Shanghai, Eugene, Oslo and Ostrava before getting second at Worlds. He’s been out with an injury so far this year. Could he possibly show up in top shape? We’ll find out.