July 2, 2014
The second half of the DL season starts on Saturday as the eighth of 14 stops on the 2014 Diamond League circuit takes palce in Paris as Paris’ Stade de France will play host to the Meeting Areva on Saturday. If you’re a fan of soccer and track, the schedule works out perfectly as all the events in Paris are sandwiched into the two-hour window between that day’s World Cup games. That’s good news because there are several events that you definitely won’t want to miss.
The men’s pole vault should be exciting with the home nation’s world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie competing. But if you’re on LetsRun.com, you’re probably interested in the mid-d/distance events and those should be a real treat.
In the men’s 5000, Galen Rupp will battle the two best in the world right now, Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew and Kenyan Caleb Ndiku, as he takes a shot at the American record (compatriot Ben True will try to break 13:00 as well). We preview that one race in a separate article: 2014 Paris DL: Can Galen Rupp Get the American 5k Record, Will Ben True Join the Sub-13:00 Club?
The men’s 800 pits Nijel Amos, winner of the stacked Pre Classic 800 against two-time World indoor champ Abubaker Kaki and two-time defending World 1500 champ Asbel Kiprop.
The women’s events are just as compelling, as the 3000 steeplechase and 1500 both feature the top five finishers from Worlds last year and the six fastest women in the world in 2014. That means Emma Coburn trying to edge closer to Jenny Simpson‘s American record in the steeple and Simpson herself squaring off against World outdoor/indoor champ Abeba Aregawi and the red-hot Hellen Obiri in the 1500.
We break down the distance events for you below.
Men’s 800 (2:20 p.m. ET) Amos vs. Kaki; Kiprop Tackles his First 800 of ’14
The men’s 800 is one of the most exciting events on the circuit this year, and while it would be great to see world-record holder David Rudisha or world indoor/outdoor champ Mo Aman in this field, the 800 in Paris is plenty intriguing. Part of that is the depth in the event right now. Even without those guys and top Americans Nick Symmonds (injured) and Duane Solomon (not racing again until Monaco on July 18), there will still be a ton of talent on the line in Paris. The favorite is Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and fourth-fastest man of all time, won the 800 against a stacked field in his last race at Pre on May 31.
He’ll be challenged by Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, the 2011 World silver medalist and two-time World indoor champ who was third behind Amos at Pre. Kaki has gotten slower in each of his 2014 races (1:44.09 at Pre, 1:44.57 in Rome on June 5, 1:45.61 in Marrakesh on June 8) but he’s only lost to two men: Amos and Aman. Expect a strong performance here.
And don’t forget about 18-year-old Kenyan Robert Biwott, who beat a showboating Taoufik Makhloufi to win his Diamond League debut in Shanghai on May 18.
Finally, there’s two-time defending World 1500 champ Asbel Kiprop, who’s running his first 800 since the Kenyan championships last June. Kiprop has had a solid season at 1500 (won the DL opener in Doha on May 9; seventh at Pre but bounced back to take third in Rome) but the last two years suggests his 1500 form has little to do with how he races at 800. In 2013, was just ninth in the Rome DL 800 in 1:45.54 and took third in a Rudisha-less Kenyan championships but then ran 3:27.72 for 1500 the next month. In 2012, he sandwiched a poor 1:47.97 800 in Shanghai with a 3:29.78 1500 in Doha and a 3:49.40 mile win at Pre. Could Kiprop challenge the 800 specialists in this one?
LRC Prediction: Amos FTW but we’ll be paying lots of attention fo a slew of guys behind him as this race really intrigues us (can’t wait to see Biwott again, Kiprop at 800, and the return of Kaki).
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|AMOS Nijel||15.03.1994||BOT||1:41.73||1:43.63||Olympic silver medalist beat Olympic-quality field at Pre on May 31|
|BIWOTT Robert||28.01.1996||KEN||1:44.69||1:44.69||18-year-old World Youth champ won in DL debut in Shanghai on May 18|
|BOSSE Pierre-Ambroise||11.05.1992||FRA||1:43.76||1:44.44||7th at Worlds and 4th at Pre but just 4th at Euro Team Champs on June 22|
|CHERUIYOT Ferguson Rotich||30.11.1989||KEN||1:43.22||1:44.82||Won Kenyan Commonwealth trials but only 7th in NY DL on June 14|
|KAKI Abubaker||21.06.1989||SUD||1:42.23||1:44.09||Running well after long layoff: top-3 in all 3 races including Pre + Rome|
|KIPROP Asbel||30.06.1989||KEN||1:43.15||King of the 1500 will tackle his first 800 of the season here|
|KSZCZOT Adam||02.09.1989||POL||1:43.30||1:44.65||World indoor silver medalist was 2nd at Euro Team Champs, 5th in NY DL|
|LEWANDOWSKI Marcin||13.06.1987||POL||1:43.79||1:44.60||3rd at Euro Team Champs 1500, 4th in NY DL|
|LÓPEZ Kevin||12.06.1990||ESP||1:43.74||1:47.26||1:43 man has struggled; just 5th at Euro Team Champs|
|OLIVIER Andre||29.12.1989||RSA||1:44.29||1:44.85||1:44 in Shanghai and Beijing in May but no races since|
Women’s 3000 steeplechase (2:28 p.m. ET) The World’s Top Women Are All Here
All the big names are in this one, with the top six women from Worlds last year and the nine fastest women in 2014 all entered. Based on recent form, it should be another battle between Ethiopians Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, though American Emma Coburn seems to get better with every race and could be ready to challenge them. Assefa has won the last two DL races in Eugene and New York, while Ayalew is #2 on the world list right now with her 9:12 second-place finish at Pre. Coburn was five seconds back of her in that race, but she looked great last weekend in Sacramento as she ran 9:19 (alone for the final kilometer) in hot conditions to win her third U.S. title. That’s likely a superior performance to her 9:17 at Pre and puts her close to the level of Assefa and Ayalew, both of whom she beat in Shanghai on May 18 after they let her go early.
With cool conditions in the forecast, is it totally crazy to think Jenny Simpson‘s 9:12.50 AR is at least a little bit vulnerable? We dont’ think so.
Defending world champ Milcah Chemos, who was awful early in the sesason, is back after failing to finish at Pre — with a month of training, will she be back to her old form in Paris? We highly doubt it.
The runner-up to Chemos last year in Moscow, Lidya Chepkurui, has been improving gradually since a dreadful 9:38 opener in Shanghai and she should be able to run in the low 9:20s here. American Stephanie Garcia, who was third in Sacramento, is also entered and will be looking to better her 9:28 PR performance in New York three weeks ago.
LRC Prediction: Assefa wins again. Coburn is top three. No American record.
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|ASSEFA Sofia||14.11.1987||ETH||9:09.00||9:11.39||Olympic/World bronze medalist is world leader and won at Pre and in NY|
|AYALEW Hiwot||06.03.1990||ETH||9:09.61||9:12.89||World #2 was second at Pre; won in Marrakesh on June 8|
|CHEMOS Milcah||24.02.1986||KEN||9:07.14||9:38.21||World champ wasn’t in shape with 9:38 in Shanghai and DNF at Pre. Is she fit now?|
|CHEPKURUI Lidya||23.08.1984||KEN||9:12.55||9:27.42||World silver medalist is slowly improving: 9:38 in Shanghai, 9:32 at Pre, then 9:27 in NY 6/14|
|COBURN Emma||19.10.1990||USA||9:17.84||9:17.84||Continues to shine in breakthrough ’14: 9:19 in heat at USAs gives her 3 of world’s top 6 times|
|DIRO NEDA Etenesh||10.05.1991||ETH||9:14.07||9:25.69||5th at Worlds last year but just 9:39 in Marrakesh on June 8|
|EL OUALI ALAMI Salima||29.12.1983||MAR||9:23.27||9:23.27||Big year at age 30: 4-sec PR in Beijing and another 4-sec PR in Ostrava on June 17|
|GARCIA Stephanie||03.05.1988||USA||9:28.96||9:28.96||Took 3rd at USAs after 13-sec PR for 4th in NY DL|
|KIRUI Purity||13.08.1991||KEN||9:19.42||9:23.43||Won Kenyan Commonwealth trials; 2nd in NY in 9:23|
|KRAUSE Gesa Felicitas||03.08.1992||GER||9:23.52||9:38.76|
Women’s 1500 (3:40 p.m. ET) Can Hellen Obiri Top a Stellar Field?
This is a mouthwatering matchup featuring the top five from last year’s World Championship final and the six women who have gone sub-4:00 in 2014. Fresh off her first U.S. 1500 title, 2011 World champ Jenny Simpson will take on the woman who dethroned her as world champ last year, Abeba Aregawi of Sweden. Both Aregawi (World indoor champ, two DL wins, 3:57.57 at Pre) and Simpson (win in Tokyo, second behind Aregawi in Shanghai DL, 3:58.28 PR at Pre) have been running great this year, so it’s weird that neither of them is the favorite in Paris. That honor belongs to the other medalist at Worlds last year, Hellen Obiri of Kenya, who has been unbeatable since she took silver behind Genzebe Dibaba in the 3000 at World indoors. Take a look at her results so far outdoors:
Hellen Obiri outdoors in 2014
|April 25th||1500||Des Moines||1st, 4:04.88||Won by 2+ secs|
|May 9th||3000||Doha||1st, 8:20.68||Fastest clean time ever outdoors|
|May 15th||800||Nairobi||1st, 2:00.6h|
|May 15th||1500||Nairobi||1st, 4:10.0h|
|May 24th||4×1500||Nassau||1st, 16:33.58||World record; Obiri’s 4:06.9 split was fastest of race|
|May 31st||1500||Eugene||1st, 3:57.05||PR and world leader|
|June 7th||1500||Nairobi||1st, 4:04.97||Kenyan Commonwealth trials|
We said after Obiri beat Aregawi and Simpson at Pre that there’s no woman better than her on the track right now and she’s done nothing since then that would make us change our minds. She’s our pick for the win.
The Obiri-Aregawi-Simpson battle (we should also include Faith Kipyegon, who ran 3:58.01 to take third at Pre) is just one of several compelling storylines in this race. Let’s bang out a quick list:
1) Can Jenny Simpson get the American record of 3:57.12?
Right now, Simpson is #3 on the all-time U.S. list and just over a second behind doper Mary Decker‘s American record. 1.16 seconds is not an insignificant amount to chop off in a 1500, but with how well Simpson is running and the competition around her in this race, it’s certainly a possibility if she runs well.
2) Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum is the future of the event
She’s just 17, but Seyaum, who was second at World Youths last year, has already run 3:59.53 this year and beat Simpson at the New York Diamond League meet three weeks ago. She entered 2014 with a 4:09.00 PR; how much lower can she go this summer?
3) What can Shannon Rowbury run for 1500?
Rowbury has had a lot of success since switching to coach Alberto Salazar, but most of it has come at the longer distances: second at U.S. indoors in the 3000, an American record at 2 miles at Pre and a narrow loss to American record-holder Molly Huddle in the 5000 at USAs last week. Rowbury, 29, told us at USAs that she’s not done with the 1500 yet and our wonder here is if she’s got enough speed to take a run at 4:00.
Nearly all of Rowbury’s PRs are agonizingly close to major barriers (2:00.47 in the 800, 4:00.33 in the 1500 and 15:00.51 in the 5000) and if she chooses to turn to the 5000 full-time in 2015 or 2016, she may not have many more chances at improving her 1500 PR. Can she improve on the 4:03.36 she ran in New York on June 14 and take a run at 4:00?
LRC Prediction: Obiri wins. We don’t think the AR for Simpson is happening. A sub-4 for Rowbury is possible, but not probable.
|ATHLETE||DATE OF BIRTH||NATION||PB||SB||Comment|
|AREGAWI Abeba||05.07.1990||SWE||3:56.54||3:57.57||World outdoor/indoor champ won in Shanghai and NY but was beaten by Obiri at Pre|
|BELETE Mimi||09.06.1988||BRN||4:00.25||4:01.98||Ethiopian-born Belete ran 9:13 2 mile at Pre but just 4:07 1500 in Hengelo on June 8|
|EMBAYE Axumawit||18.10.1994||ETH||4:04.10||4:04.10||World indoor silver medalist ran just 4:12 in a meet in Sweden last week|
|ENGLAND Hannah||06.03.1987||GBR||4:01.89||4:05.27||4th at Worlds but just 3rd at British champs last week|
|HASSAN Sifan||01.01.1993||NED||3:59.38||3:59.38||5th at Pre; won Euro Team Champs 3k on June 21|
|KIPYEGON Faith Chepngetich||10.01.1994||KEN||3:56.98||3:58.01||20-year-old was 5th at Worlds last year; 3rd at Pre + 2nd at Kenyan Commonwealth trials|
|MUIR Laura||09.05.1993||GBR||4:02.91||4:02.91||2nd at British champs after 2.41-sec PR in Hengelo June 8|
|OBIRI Hellen||13.12.1989||KEN||3:57.05||3:57.05||World leader is on fire: 6 straight wins, including Pre + Kenyan Commonwealth trials|
|ROWBURY Shannon||19.09.1984||USA||4:00.33||4:03.36||4th in NY in 4:03; outkicked by Molly Huddle for 5k title at USAs|
|SEYAUM Dawit||27.07.1996||ETH||3:59.53||3:59.53||17-year-old is special talent: already sub-4:00 and 2nd behind Aregawi (but in front of Simpson) in NY|
|SIMPSON Jennifer||23.08.1986||USA||3:58.28||3:58.28||World silver medalist looked strong in winning USAs last week|
|WEIGHTMAN Laura||01.07.1991||GBR||4:02.72||4:02.72||British champ PR’d at Pre; can she get closer to 4:00 here?|