2017 Anniversary Games Preview: Brazier, Amos & Kiprop Headline a Ridiculous Men’s 800; Mo Farah & Laura Muir Try to Defend Home Turf vs. the Americans

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By LetsRun.com
July 8, 2017

The 2017 IAAF World Championships are less than a month away, but if you can’t wait until then, consider Sunday’s Müller Anniversary Games a preview. Contested on the same London Stadium track that will play host to the world’s best in August, many of track and field’s biggest stars will be in action on Sunday, including Mo Farah, Allyson FelixLaura Muir, Fred KerleyElaine ThompsonKeni Harrison and Mariya Lasitskene.

The distance events should be very exciting. UK champ Chris O’Hare leads a solid field in the men’s 1500, but the men’s 800 is the non-sprint highlight as Donavan BrazierAsbel KipropNijel Amos and Adam Kszczot are all entered. The women’s mile is almost as good as Muir takes on Jenny SimpsonKate Grace and Hellen Obiri. Farah faces Eric JenkinsRyan Hill and Hassan Mead in the men’s 3000.

In addition, there are some big-time showdowns including Kerley vs. U.S. champ Ameer Webb in the 200, Thompson vs. Dafne Schippers in the 100, Katerina Stefanidi vs. Sandi Morris in the pole vault and a USAs rematch between Aries MerrittDevon Allen and Aleec Harris in the high hurdles.

We give you the meet details and preview the four mid-d/distance events below.

What: 2017 Müller Anniversary Games

Where: London Stadium, London, England

When: Sunday, July 9. DL track events (and the international TV broadcast) begin at 9:00 a.m. ET.

How to watch: This meet will air live in the United States on Universal HD from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. ET. In Europe, it’s on Eurosport, except for the UK, where it’s on TV for much longer on some combination of BBC One/Two (12:15-16:30). For full TV/streaming details, see below.

Schedule/entries/results * TV/streaming information *2016 LRC coverage

Televised Events – ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN
9:03 a.m. ET 400m hurdles Men Entries
9:10 High jump Women Entries
9:13 200m Men Entries
9:22 110m hurdles Men Heat A Entries
9:27 Javelin Women Entries
9:31 110m hurdles Men Heat B Entries
9:37 Long jump Women Entries
9:40 100m Women Final Entries
9:49 400m Women Entries
9:58 800m Men Entries
10:07 100m men Men Entries
10:17 100m hurdles Women Final Entries
10:28 110m hurdles Men Final Entries
10:38 1 Mile Women Entries
10:48 3000m Men Entries

Women’s 800 (8:40 a.m. ET): Charlene Lipsey goes for her first European win

NameCountryPBSB
Alexandra BellGreat Britain2:00.532:02.20
Kendra ChambersUSA2:00.762:01.10
Esther Guerrero PuigdevallSpain2:01.202:01.57
Hedda HynneNorway2:00.942:01.05
Charlene LipseyUSA1:57.381:57.38
Shelayna Oskan-ClarkeGreat Britain1:58.862:00.17
Angela PettyNew Zealand1:59.062:00.44
Laura RoeslerUSA1:59.041:59.54
Lynsey SharpGreat Britain1:57.691:58.80
Adelle TraceyGreat Britain2:00.352:00.35
Chrishuna WilliamsUSA1:59.592:00.34

Lipsey, fresh off a 1:57.38 runner-up performance in Lausanne on Thursday, is in the best form of anyone in this field and will be favored to win again in this non-DL event that will not air on the international TV broadcast (but will be on the BBC). The only question is how Lipsey will handle her second race in four days, but considering she ran 1:58.01 in the final at USAs (her third race in four days) and the only other woman within two seconds of her this year, Lynsey Sharp, is also doubling back from Lausanne, she remains the woman to beat. Sharp, who was 6th at the Olympics last year, has been struggling for most of 2017 (she failed to break 2:00 in her first five races and was only 3rd at the British Trials) but her 1:58.80 in Lausanne was a season’s best.

U.S. finalists Laura Roesler and Chrishuna Williams will also open their European season in this race, but if anyone is going to break up Lipsey and Sharp, our pick is Brit Shelayna Oskan-Clarke. The 27-year-old has won all three of her 800s this year, including a second straight British title last week. She also took down Sharp to win this race last year.

LRC prediction: Lipsey wins this one comfortably, but with no one to chase, she doesn’t come close to 1:57 again.

Men’s 1500 (8:50 a.m. ET): Olympic finalists Ben Blankenship & Ryan Gregson takes on British champ Chris O’Hare

NameCountryPBSB
Kalle BerglundSweden3:39.983:39.98
Bethwell BirgenKenya3:30.773:32.27
Ben BlankenshipUSA3:34.263:35.29
David BustosSpain3:34.773:42.93
Robbie FitzgibbonGreat Britain3:36.973:36.97
Ryan GregsonAustralia3:31.063:34.37
Charlie GriceGreat Britain3:33.603:35.72
Filip IngebrigtsenNorway3:32.433:36.74
Vincent KibetKenya3:31.963:32.66
Brannon KidderUSA3:38.793:38.79
Tom MarshallGreat Britain3:37.623:37.62
Luke MathewsAustralia3:35.573:35.57
Chris O’HareGreat Britain3:34.353:34.35
Andrew RotichKenya3:43.43
Sofiane SelmouniFrance3:36.393:36.39
Jordy WilliamszAustralia3:36.743:36.87

Like the women’s 800, this non-Diamond League event will take place before the international TV window (but again will be on the BBC), which is a shame as it should be a pretty good race. Boston-based Chris O’Hare was dead last in the mile at this meet last year, but he’s been in the shape of his life this spring, setting a PR of 3:34 at Oxy in May and convincingly beating a very strong field to win the British title last week in Birmingham. Ben Blankenship has also been running well of late as he won the TrackTown Summer Series meet in Portland last week and clocked a 3:35.29 season’s best in New York on Thursday. But this will be Blankenship’s third 1500 in eight days, with a lot of travel in between (Portland –> New York –> London). Even though Blankenship generally bounces back quickly, that’s a lot to take on.

Though this field is mostly devoid of Africans, the two fastest entrants both hail from Kenya in Bethwell Birgen and Vincent Kibet. Of the two, Kibet was better in Lausanne (4th vs. Birgen’s 8th), and Kibet also managed a 3:51 mile at the Pre Classic. But the two men have frequently traded victories as Birgen is 4-3 against his rival this year dating back to indoors (they’ve split their four meetings outdoors).

LRC prediction: O’Hare has been brilliant this year and we’ll take him to continue his stellar form on home soil.

Men’s 800 (9:58 a.m. ET): Donavan Brazier takes on Olympic medalists Nijel Amos & Asbel Kiprop

NameCountryPBSB
Nijel AmosBotswana1:41.731:44.24
Donavan BrazierUSA1:43.551:44.14
Mark EnglishIreland1:44.841:45.42
Elliot GilesGreat Britain1:45.541:46.38
Asbel KipropKenya1:43.15
Emmanuel KorirKenya1:43.731:43.73
Adam KszczotPoland1:43.301:45.45
Kyle LangfordGreat Britain1:45.781:45.91
Guy LearmonthGreat Britain1:46.651:48.12
Andrew OsagieGreat Britain1:43.771:45.73
Bram SomThe Netherlands1:43.45
Erik SowinskiUSA1:44.581:44.66
Jake WightmanGreat Britain1:45.821:45.82
Emmanuel Korir is #1

A double NCAA champ as a freshman at UTEP, Korir will take on the big boys in London

Update: Emmanuel Korir is no longer listed on the start list

This is a tremendous field. The last two NCAA champions, U.S. champ Donavan Brazier and Kenyan champ Emmanuel Korir, will face each other in this one, but we could just as easily bill this as a showdown between 2012 Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos — fresh off a 1:44.24 win in Paris last week — and four-time global 1500 champ Asbel Kiprop, running in his first Diamond League 800 since 2015.

Based on their 2017 form, Korir and Amos are probably the men to beat, but anything can happen in an 800, especially one like this with 12 men (plus rabbit Bram Som) on the start line. Luckily, the London Stadium track has nine lanes, but that still means that eight guys are going to be sharing lanes at the start. However, the crowded field should lead to a fast race up front, and both Korir and Brazier, who have struggled tactically in the past, should be eager to get out quickly behind the rabbit to avoid getting caught up in traffic behind them. The long-striding Kiprop may want to stay out of trouble as well, but as a 1500 specialist, he’s more likely to head to the back than the front. Kiprop won’t be under as much pressure in the 800, but a 1:44 or 1:45 would send a message that his fitness is coming around for Worlds.

Of everyone in the field, Korir is the man to watch. With world leader Clayton Murphy out of Worlds and defending champ David Rudisha struggling for form (though he did win in Hungary on Tuesday in 1:44.90), the medals in the 800 are wide open and Korir, thanks to his solo, negative-split 1:43.73, has the fastest SB of anyone who will be running at Worlds. But he’s also the least-experienced of any of the top contenders, which makes this race very important. So far, Korir’s talent has outweighed any tactical mistakes he’s made as he has yet to lose a race at 2017, claiming titles at NCAA indoors and outdoors for UTEP and at the Kenyan Trials on June 24. But this will be the strongest field he’s faced, in front of the biggest crowd he’s ever seen in his Diamond League debut. Should he rise to the challenge and win, he may just become the favorite for Worlds.

Korir will have his hands full, however. Amos is healthy once again and looked great in winning in Paris, while Brazier’s victory at USAs was one of the most impressive races by anyone this year. And we shouldn’t forget Adam Kszczot, the 2015 world champs silver medalist who beat Brazier to win in Rome on June 8. American Erik Sowinski, who almost ran a PR in New York on Thursday (1:44.66), won’t contend for the win but could be dragged to a fast time.

Truly, this should be a spectacular race. U.S. fans will get an answer to the hypothetical “What if Brazier had stayed in college an extra year?” as he takes on NCAA champ Korir, who will run in front of the European fans for the first time. With those two up front, we could be in store for something very quick indeed.

LRC prediction: Korir is a super talent, but he may not even be the biggest talent in this race. Remember, Amos ran 1:41 and earned Olympic silver at the age of 18. Still, we’ll give Korir the nod here but there are several guys capable of winning this thing. If Korir wins here, he’s officially a MEGA revelation and star.

 

Women’s Mile (10:38 a.m. ET): Laura Muir tries to defend home turf against Jenny Simpson, Kate Grace & Hellen Obiri

NameCountryPBSB
Winny ChebetKenya
Angelika CichockaPoland4:25.39
Melissa CourtneyGreat Britain4:52.11
Axumawit EmbayeEthiopia4:26.84
Stephanie GarciaUSA4:28.47
Kate GraceUSA4:22.93
Linden HallAustralia4:28.214:28.21
Jessica JuddGreat Britain4:39.49
Ciara MageeanIreland4:30.64
Jennifer MeadowsGreat Britain
Laura MuirGreat Britain4:19.12
Hellen ObiriKenya
Jenny SimpsonUSA4:22.18
Katie SnowdenGreat Britain5:04.65
Stephanie TwellGreat Britain4:28.16
Laura WeightmanGreat Britain

There are only two Diamond League distance races (men’s 800 and women’s mile) but both figure to be very exciting, with the women’s mile the final women’s event of the night. One of Britain’s biggest stars, Laura Muir, is the headliner, and the goal here is for her to break Zola Budd‘s 32-year-old British record of 4:17.57 in the mile one year after she took down Kelly Holmes‘ British 1500 record on the same track.. Had you asked us after her indoor campaign — which included British records in the 1000 (2:31.93), 3000 (8:26.41) and 5000 (14:49.12), we’d have said Muir was a lock to break Budd’s mark, but after she missed two weeks of running in June due to a stress fracture in her foot, she’s now facing slightly longer odds.

Still, 4:17.57 — worth around 3:58 or 3:59 for 1500 — is very doable, particularly since we know Muir will be going with the rabbit to chase the time. It is fair to ask whether Muir’s fitness is there after some time off from training, but she answered that question with a resounding yes in Lausanne on Thursday, clocking a 1:58.69 PR at 800 meters. But two fast races in four days is a challenge, particularly for someone who hadn’t raced for almost six weeks until Lausanne.

So while Muir may challenge for the win and challenge the record, she may walk away with neither. Muir got the better of Jenny Simpson at the Pre Classic in May, but Simpson responded by winning her fourth straight U.S. title and is headed on an upward trajectory. Kate Grace was second behind Simpson in that race and ran an impressive 4:22 mile at Millrose indoors, finishing behind only Sifan Hassan. But the biggest threat to Muir could well be Olympic 5k silver medalist Hellen Obiri, who nipped Muir by .01 to take second in the 1500 at Pre. Obiri has decimated both of the Diamond League 5,000 fields she’s faced this year, including Genzebe Dibaba (who just ran a 4:16 mile) in Rome, and while the 5000 is her primary event, her 1500 pb is a very strong 3:57.05. If Muir goes all-out from the gun to break the record, we could easily envision Obiri sitting on her before blowing by in the home straight to take the victory.

LRC prediction: Muir’s 1:58 on Thursday is enough to give her the benefit of the doubt, but we expect Obiri to push her hard. We’ll take Simpson for third, but her forte is championship events, not fast Diamond League races.

 

Men’s 3000 (10:48 a.m. ET): Mo Farah’s farewell tour continues

NameCountryPBSB
Antonio Abadia BeciSpain7:52.22
Andy BayerUSA7:43.847:52.79
Reuben BettKenya
Andrew ButchartGreat Britain7:45.007:45.36
Adam ClarkeGreat Britain7:55.138:16.50
Mo FarahGreat Britain7:32.627:41.20
Nick GoolabGreat Britain7:57.647:57.64
Ryan HillUSA7:30.93
Eric JenkinsUSA7:39.43
Davis KiplangatKenya7:48.048:05.45
Riley MastersUSA7:53.11
Sam McEnteeAustralia7:48.357:53.48
Hassan MeadUSA7:38.85
Adel MechaalSpain7:35.287:35.28
Rob MullettGreat Britain7:58.65
Frank NgelelKenya
Marc ScottGreat Britain7:47.577:58.52
Patrick TiernanAustralia7:39.287:39.28

 

With two Diamond League distance races in the past week (Paris 3k, Lausanne 5k), this field isn’t stacked, but Mo Farah is so good that it doesn’t really matter who he faces (the Prefontaine 5000 was totally loaded and Farah still won that one). And though none of the top Ethiopians are here, several of America’s premier talents will be in action, including U.S. 10,000 champ Hassan Mead and 5,000 World Championship team members Ryan Hill and Eric Jenkins. Hill and Jenkins are both particularly well-suited to the 3k as Hill is the World Indoor silver medalist and has a 7:30 pb while Jenkins has been on a tear in the 1500/mile this year. Mead, too, should not be discounted as he’s run 3:37 for 1500 and pushed Hill all the way to the line in the 3k at Millrose last year. Brit Andrew Butchart used this meet as a coming-out party last year (he was second in the 5000 behind Farah) and will give the home fans someone to cheer for along with Farah.

Even at age 34, however, Farah is the obvious pick for the win here, and as impressive as Mead, Jenkins and Hill have been dropping down, it needs to be remembered that Farah’s 1500 PR is 3:28.81 and his 2017 SB (3:34.19) is over a second faster than any of them have ever run. Put a guy like Muktar EdrisRonald Kwemoi or Paul Chelimo in this race and maybe Farah is vulnerable. But picking against Farah is generally foolish, and we’re not going to do it here. Remember, at this meet last year, Farah faced a similar field of in-form Americans (Hill, Jenkins, Bernard Lagat and Ben True) and ate their lunch, winning the 5000 by an outrageous 15+ seconds in 12:59.25. We don’t expect Farah to win by nearly as much this year given the shorter distance, but for anyone to defeat him would be a major upset.

That said, we’re excited to see how the Americans do as Farah is the ultimate measuring stick. Hill and Jenkins should both be World Championship finalists, and if either of them can threaten Farah in this one, they could have an outside shot at a medal in London in a month’s time. NCAA champs Marc Scott and Patrick Tiernan are also entered. Tiernan, who ran a 7:39 pb in Paris last week, is quickly establishing himself as one of the top non-African runners in the world and was only .14 behind Jenkins at the Pre Classic, so he could be in the mix for second.

LRC prediction: Farah wins it with Jenkins second to give NOP a 1-2 finish.


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