2011 Stockholm Diamond League Preview
LaShawn Merritt Returns, Asbel Kiprop & Silas Kiplagat Will Face Each Other And A Slew Of Americans, And A Great Women's 800 And 5,000

By LetsRun.com
July 27, 2011

The 11th of 14 Diamond League meets takes place on Friday in Stockholm. Compared to the truly incredible Monaco meet, this meet is not as stacked, but there definitely is plenty to get excited about.

Usain Bolt will race the clock in the 200, but the big story of the meet may be the return to action from his ExtenZe male enhancement-related drug ban for LaShawn Merritt.

For the first time since September 20th, 2009, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 world champion at 400 will race. The weird thing is no one has seemingly written a single article this week about Merritt's return, but hey, that's why you come to LRC for our expertise.

We don't even really care about sprint action, but we cover it better than the mainstream media. If the 25-year-old Merritt is anywhere close to the form he was in 2009, then he'll be the king of the 400 in 2011, as it's been down so far this year given his old rival Jeremy Wariner's struggles. Merritt's seaosnal best was 44.14 in 2006, 43.96 in 2007, 43.75 in 2008 and 44.06 in 2009. The world lead for 2011 is just 44.65, set by South Plains junior college champion Rondell Bartholomew in early April at Texas Tech. The 2011 world leader Bartholomew and two other sub-45 guys in 2011 will face Merritt on Friday.

Mid-d and distance-wise, the action in Stockholm should be pretty good, with the men's 1,500 and women's 800 leading the way.

In the men's 1,500, Kenya's the world's best in Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat will duel in a race that contains a ton of Americans. 10 women who have run 1:58 this year will clash in the women's 800, including US champ Alysia Montano and Caster Semenya, as well as the women who was the top middle-distance runner on the year before getting injured - Kenia Sinclair. In the women's 5,000, 2011 Kenyan champ Sylvia Kibet will try to hand the best women's distance runner in the world in 2011, Vivian Cheruiyot, her first loss of the season on the track in a race that will feature another American record attempt by Shalane Flanagan. Plus Paul Kipsiele Koech and two Americans in the steeple. We break it all down for you - even the B heats that feature Nate Brannen, Molly Beckwith and Will Leer.

We preview the mid-d and distance races below for you. All times listed are Eastern Standard Times. Except for the "B" heats, the distance events are listed in the order they take place so you can use this as an Internet viewing guide. The timetable and start lists for all events can be accessed here.

Women's 800: Caster Semenya Races US Champion Alysia Montano, Kenia Sinclair And Some Fast Russian Losers
2:15 pm Eastern


Healthy In 2011, Alysia
Montano Is On Fire

The women's 800 will start to tell us what to expect at the 2011 World Championships. 2009 world champion Caster Semenya, who has experienced a very up-and-down 2011 so far, looked utterly dominant in her last Diamond League appearance in Paris on July 8th. If Semenya ends up being in the same form she was in 2009, no woman will end up beating her. But if she's not in tip-top form, she'll have her hands full, as the 800 has started to pick up of late.

At the Russian champs last week, 9 women broke 2:00-flat and two broke 1:57.00. None of the top three are competing in Stockholm, but the unluckiest fourth placer on the planet in Svetlana Klyuka is competing. Klyuka ran 1:58.03 at the Russian champs and was unable to crack the top three, as third was nearly a second ahead at 1:57.19. The 5th placer at the Russian Trials in Yelena Kofanova also will race in Stockholm. If either woman is close to Semenya, remember there were two women (Mariya Savinova - 1:56.95 and Yuliya Rusanova - 1:56.99) in Russia that beat them by more than a second.

The women who was the most dominant mid-d runner early in the year, Jamaica's Kenia Sinclair, also is returning to action in Stockholm after injuring her calf in the fall in Paris on July 8th. Sinclair is undefeated for the year on the track, including a Diamond League victory in Eugene at 800 and in New York at 1,500. It will be intereting to see how she looks, as historically she's been someone who has run better earlier in the year rather than late. In Eugene, Sinclair beat both Semenya as well as the 2011 US champ Alysia Montano.

Montano is in the Stockholm field - just her 2nd European race of the year. In both of her previous two Diamond League  showings in 2011, Montano was fourth (in Paris on July 8th and in Eugene). Will she look better here than she did three weeks ago in Paris? US third placer Alice Schmidt, who PRed at 1:58.61 on July 19th, is also in the race.

But the leading challenger to Semenya very well could be Morocco's 22-year-old Halima Hachlaf, who was the Diamond League winner at Bislett, where she defeated both Semenya and the Russian champ Savinova as well as the Kenyan champ Janeth Jepkosgei and Brit Jenny Meadows. In beating Semenya, Jepkosgei and Meadows, Hachlaf took the scalps of all three medallists from 2009 Worlds. In Paris three weeks ago, Hachlaf was the runner-up to Semenya.

Quick Take #1: A very good and interesting field. We'll be interested in mainly how Semenya, Sinclair and Montano individually look and how the 4th and 5th placers from Russia stack up against them. That being said, it's important to realize how deep the women's 800 is this year by noting who isn't in the field - the top three at the Russian champs, Kenyan champ and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei, Jenny Meadows and others.

Quick Take #2: We know they aren't in the field, but it's worth noting despite the 1:56 seasonal bests that the top two at the Russian champs aren't unbeatable by everyone but Semenya. Savinova lost to Morocco's Halima Hachlaf at Bislett and Rusanova was just 4th in Hengelo, 5th at Pre and 6th at Bislett.

Quick Take #3: It's worth noting that in looking at Hachlaf's stats, she ran 2:06.06 at age 15. That's very similar to what Tennessee's Chanelle Price ran at age 15 - 2:06.23. We're not sure why we're pointing that out.

More: High class women's 800m on tap in Stockholm - Samsung Diamond League (IAAF)

Athlete DATE OF BIRTH Nation PB SB
10.12.1979
RUS
1:56.00
2:01.62
06.09.1988
MAR
1:58.27
1:58.27
27.12.1978
RUS
1:56.64
1:58.03
08.08.1988
RUS
1:58.25
1:58.25
14.10.1985
UKR
1:58.30
1:58.30
23.04.1986
USA
1:57.34
1:58.33
24.12.1984
CUB
1:58.91
1:58.91
03.10.1981
USA
1:58.61
1:58.61
07.01.1991
RSA
1:55.45
1:58.61
14.07.1980
JAM
1:57.88
1:58.29
14.10.1980
BLR
1:58.11
1:58.12

Final Lap Of Magical
Steeplechase In Monaco

Men's Steeple: Paul Koech Gets Another Chance To Change Kenyan Selectors' Minds
2:35 pm Eastern

This race is all about Paul Kipsiele Koech. In the history of the world, 1/4th of all the sub-8 minute clockings in the steeplechase are by Koech. Koech has one huge liability - he does not run well at altitude, and that means he does not do well at the Kenyan Trials. He was only 7th at the Kenyan Trials two weeks ago, and then he vowed to run fast in Europe, hoping to be put on the Kenyan team for Worlds as a "wild card."

Koech definitely held up his end of the bargain in Monaco last week. He pushed a brutal pace once the rabbits dropped off. The result was one of the most magical races we have seen. Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto was nearly dropped before the bell, but he battled back with an incredible last lap to miss the world record by .01. Koech was rewarded with a sub-8 minute clocking. Athletics Kenya is still saying Koech will not be going to Worlds, but he gets another chance to show here he should be on the Worlds team. He clearly is the class of the field, and we'd love to see him go on a solo 8-minute chase once the rabbits drop out. If he does that, Athletics Kenya may have to reverse its decision.

Richard Mateelong, second at the Kenyan Trials and on the World Championships team, is in the field (he ran 8:07 in Monaco). American Kyle Alcorn will be looking for his first sub-8:20 clocking and Billy Nelson's 8:17.27 US leader. Fellow American Dan Huling, who has an 8:13.29 PR and opened up in the steeple at 8:25 on June 4th but only ran 8:27 in Monaco, also will be looking to get under 8:20 for the first time this year.

Athlete DATE OF BIRTH Nation PB SB
18.03.1985
USA
8:21.46
8:23.27
20.04.1987
KEN
8:10.63
8:16.29
12.04.1982
ETH
8:09.87
8:10.03
16.07.1983
USA
8:13.29
8:25.95
08.11.1983
QAT
8:15.80
8:30.23
14.12.1992
KEN
8:11.31
8:11.31
04.03.1989
UGA
8:03.81
8:08.43
10.11.1981
KEN
7:56.37
7:57.32
15.08.1983
KEN
8:25.04
8:26.49
14.10.1983
KEN
8:00.89
8:07.41
01.01.1985
KEN
8:16.22
8:24.64
18.09.1991
KEN
8:07.75
8:07.75
17.07.1978
RSA
8:11.63
8:12.27
02.04.1992
KEN
8:07.71
8:07.71

Men's 1,500: The World's Best Take On A Slew Of Americans In A Real Treat
3:05 pm Eastern


Domination In Monaco
More Photos Here

The men's 1,500 has a huge field with 18 guys in it, and that is just the "A" race. The "B" race has another 10 guys in it. Might make sense to move a few guys from the "A" race to the "B" race, but what do we know.

We can't get too political because the "A" race is a real treat. Not only does it feature 6 of the top 7 from the Monaco 1,500m last week: 2011 World #1 and Kenyan and Monaco winner Silas Kiplagat, Monaco runner-up Nixon Chepseba, Olympic silver medallist Nick Willis (who set a new national record in Monaco), Collins Cheboi of Kenya, 2009 World Championships silver medallist Deresse Mekonnen, and Aussie Jeff Riseley (everyone but Abubaker Kaki), but then for good measure it also has Olympic Champion Asbel Kiprop and the other Kenyan Worlds team member Daniel Komen.

That makes an incredible field. To make it better throw in Americans Leo Manzano, Lopez Lomong, Russell Brown, and David Torrence (Andrew Wheating is on the starting list, but he posted on Facebook after pulling out of Monaco that he was going to just train until Worlds and we've confirmed that is the case with his agent). It doesn't get much better than this.

Before Monaco, we said the 1,500m there was "all about Silas Kiplagat." After Kiplagat dominated in Monaco we said, "let there be no doubt (that Silas Kiplagat is currently the best 1,500 runner on the planet)." Kiplagat gets the opportunity to show that again here against Asbel Kiprop, the guy whom we see most likely to challenge Kiplagat at Worlds. The last time they faced off at the Kenyan Champs, it was no contest, with Kiplagat wagging his finger at Kiprop down the homestretch. Kiprop ran an 800m PR in Monaco, but as good as Kiplagat is running (he won in Monaco by nearly 1.5 seconds), he is the heavy favorite here.


Kiprop - You Remember This?

American Chances
The Americans will be an interesting subplot. We'll assume Wheating isn't running and focus our attention on Leo Manzano. Manzano was US-ranked #1 in 2010 but started 2011 slowly. He has been getting better at the right time. Somehow, he managed to make the US team for Worlds, and then ran his best race of the season, a 3:33.66 three weeks in Paris. A step in the right direction here will show he is in as good of form as last year, and that would make him a medal threat in Daegu. Lopez Lomong, who will not be going to Worlds, but was a Worlds finalist in 2009, actually has a faster season's best than Manzano this year with a 3:33.59 clocking in Barcelona over the weekend. No doubt Lopez will want Manzano's scalp.

The race is a huge, huge opportunity for Russell Brown and David Torrence. For both it is their first Diamond League 1,500m and an opportunity to run against the big boys. It's hard to run 3:33 unless you are in a 3:33 race, so this is their big chance. It's a great opportunity for Brown particularly, as he didn't even make the final at USAs (Torrence was 6th).

The race also is a big one for Aussie record holder Ryan Gregson. Gregson needs the 3:35.00 Worlds qualifier and with no more Diamond League 1,500s before Worlds after this one, it may be his last good chance (although he is entered in a 1,500m in Finland on August 13th). Gregson started out the season really well with a scorching 1,200 leg at Penn and the "B" mile win at Pre, but has had some setbacks in his training. He wrote in an Australia paper yesterday, "I had a mild setback a couple of weeks ago with a calf strain and traveled to Ireland and Belgium to see a physiotherapist and a podiatrist. They got to the bottom of the issue and I seem to be okay." That does not sound super-confident. In Monaco, we think Gregson shut it down the last lap to save himself for this race, only running 3:51.

Predictions Of "A" Race: 1) Kiplagat has been too good  2) Kiprop  3) Willis keeps on rolling  4) Manzano

Now, let us talk about the "B" race. In our younger years, we'd make a joke here about DIII running, but that is no longer allowed. The "B" race has some implications for our friends north of the Border.

This may be the last good chance for Canadians Taylor Milne or Nate Brannen to make the World Championships team. Brannen, the Canadian champ (and former Michigan Wolverine), won the Canadian Champs and then ran 3:36.75 to win at Harry Jerome, but he - like Milne - probably wants and possibly needs to get the Daegu A qualifying standard of 3:35.00 here (the Olympic A is 3:35.50). This is only Brannen's second race in Europe and likely the one he has been gearing up for, as there are no more men's Diamond League 1,500s before Daegu. Brannen will have to get close to his PR of 3:34.65 to get the A standard. There is some confusion as to whether Brannen (and Milne needs) the A standard. The responders to this message board thread seem to think Brannen and Milne both need to get the A standard to go to Daegu, but we contacted Brannen's management company and 1997 World Championships bronze medallist at 800 Rich Kenah replied and said he thought that Brannen would be able to go with the B but that wasn't confirmed.

American Will Leer, who was 5th at the US trials ahead of both Torrence and Brown, who are in the "A" race, is also in the "B" race. Leer has been stuck in the 3:37s for 4 years now, but he should have optimism that he finally gets under 3:37 in this race. For one, he's run 3:37.01 this year. Secondly, on July 16th, he did beat Lopez Lomong in Belgium, who in turn went on to run 3:33. Thirdly, the "B" race will have the excellent pacing duties of American David Krummenacker, so it might in some ways be a better opportunity than the "A" race because of a better pace and less traffic for someone hoping to run 3:34.
On The Boards: *DN Galan 1500m
*
Help me with Stockholm Preview - Does Nate Brannen Need A qualifier to go to Daegu

1,500 "A" Race - Athlete DATE OF BIRTH Nation PB SB
06.03.1985
USA
3:35.70
3:35.70
25.09.1987
KEN
3:32.45
3:32.45
12.12.1990
KEN
3:31.42
3:31.42
26.04.1990
AUS
3:31.06
3:36.64
03.08.1978
ESP
3:31.57
3:35.80
20.08.1989
KEN
3:29.27
3:30.47
30.06.1989
KEN
3:31.20
3:31.76
19.03.1980
KEN
3:46.40
27.11.1984
KEN
3:29.02
3:32.47
01.01.1985
USA
3:32.20
3:33.59
12.09.1984
USA
3:32.37
3:33.66
20.10.1987
ETH
3:32.18
3:32.90
09.10.1992
KEN
3:32.02
3:32.02
26.02.1984
POL
3:36.68
3:36.68
11.11.1986
AUS
3:32.93
3:33.42
26.11.1985
USA
3:34.25
3:36.15
21.11.1987
USA
3:30.90
3:34.39
25.04.1983
NZL
3:31.79
3:31.79

 

Men's B 1,500m: 1:15 pm

Athlete DATE OF BIRTH Nation PB SB
06.08.1988
KEN
3:34.59
3:34.59
08.09.1982
CAN
3:34.65
3:36.75
10.01.1990
BEL
3:36.90
3:36.90
16.11.1994
QAT
3:39.53
3:39.53
25.11.1983
QAT
24.05.1975
USA
3:31.93
15.04.1985
USA
3:37.01
3:37.01
19.09.1988
ETH
3:34.42
3:36.45
14.09.1981
CAN
3:36.00
3:37.20
22.11.1983
AUS
3:34.39
3:38.13

 

"A" start list below. "B" start list here.

Women's 5,000: Kibet Vs. Cheruiyot, And Will The American Record Fall?
3:25 pm Eastern

From a US perspective, the women's 5,000 will be primarily about "Can Shalane Flanagan get the American record back?"

Twice this summer, she's run 5,000s in the Golden League (once in Eugene and once in Paris) and both times, she's come within 4 seconds of the AR of 14:44.76. In Paris, Flanagan almost got the record and a new personal best, as she missed both by less than a second when she ran 14:45.20 (PR is 14:44.80). If Flanagan PRs, it will be her first track PR since moving to Jerry Schumacher from John Cook.

US World Championship, team member at 1,500 Jenny Barringer Simpson also is racing and will be looking to get under 15:00 for the first time in her career. Since leaving her college coach Mark Wetmore, Barringer Simpson has never approached the form she showed in 2009 when she ran 3:59 for 1,500, won a European 5,000 in 15:05 and placed 5th at the World Championships in the steeple with an AR. After running the second-best 1,500 of her career (4:03.54) in Monaco last week, a sub-15:00 showing here will give her a big confidence boost. Anything over 15:00 likely means she's still not the same runner she was in 2009.

American Lauren Fleshman, who was just 8th at USAs, will be looking for the Olympic A standard of 15:15.00. And then there is the inspirational Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. The 37-year-old Olympic marathoner set a PR in the 10,000 at USAs (31:48.58 for 5th) and in Stockholm on Friday, she'll be looking for a massive new 5,000 PR just three days before her 38th birthday. She must be feeling good about her form, as it's pretty much unheard of in 2011 for someone with an official track PR over 16:00 to be running a Diamond League meet.

From an international perspective, the race should be all about the Kenyans, as 10 of the 17 entrants are from Kenya, including the two of the top 3 from the 2011 Kenyan champs plus the world's best female runner in 2011.

The main story line for the race is "Who will win the clash between 2009 5,000 world champion and 2011 World Cross-Country champion Vivian Cheruiyot and 2011 Kenyan champ at 5,000 and 2009 World Championships bronze medallist Sylvia Kibet?"

Kibet, whom LetsRun.com spent a lot of time with in Kenya a month ago, is on the comeback trail from an early season hospitalization. Based on the fact that she'd only run 15:11 heading into the Kenyan champs, many were doubting her. But her husband had told us she'd do well at the Kenyan trials and she backed him up, as she convincingly won the Kenyan trials, beating the runner-up in 2010 world 10,000 champion Linet Masai in the process by 2 full seconds. Will Kibet's great form continue into Europe? Or will she start to fade she made up fitness so rapidly?

Cheruiyot certainly is the heavy favorite as she's been without a doubt the best female runner on the planet in 2011. Since winning the world title in cross, she's gone undefeated in track, including Diamond League victories at 5,000 in Shanghai and Eugene.

Two-time world junior gold medallist at 3,000, Mercy Cherono, who was third at the Kenyan trials at 5,000 and has run 14:35.13 this year, is also in the race. We don't expect the 20-year-old to win though, as she's been third in each of her last three 5,000s (Pre, Paris and Kenyan champs) after starting the 2011 season with 5th place showings in Shanhai and Hengelo. The woman who was 4th in Eugene behind Cherono, Eugene-based former NCAA star Sally Kipyego, will race on Friday for the first time since making her first WC team on the track fby finishing 2nd at the Kenyan trials at 10,000. The 5th placer at Pre also is running in Pauline Korikwiang, who was 4th at the Kenyan trials at 5,000.

Priscah Cherono, the 2007 Worlds bronze medallist at 5,000, also comes into the race in pretty good form, as she was third in the Kenyan trials at 10,000. 1,500 runner Viola Kibiwot (5th at World Championships in 2007), who has run 14:41 this year and was 4th in the Kenyan trials at 5,000, is also entered.

Quick Take #1: If you feel like you've been hearing the words "Eugene" or "Pre" a lot, you aren't going crazy - you have. This race actually features five of the top six from the Eugene 5,000 (everyone but the runner-up Linet Masai - results here). In Eugene, Cheruyiot won convincingly and we expect her to do it again here, as she has the best resume of everyone in the field and also seems to be in the best form.

Quick Take #2: Spain's Dolores Checa is also in the field and we only mention that as she's twice run 14:46 this year, so she is someone that likely will give Flanagan some company in her American record attempt, as in Paris she finished just behind Flanagan. If the pace is truly cracking up front, it will be too hot for Shalane, who worked her way up from the back of the lead pack to 4th in Paris but ran most of the race in no woman's land, ending up more than 10 seconds behind 3rd.


I Want The Record Back

Athlete DATE OF BIRTH Nation PB SB
29.05.1991
AZE
15:29.47
15:29.47
23.08.1986
USA
15:05.25
15:11.49
17.09.1977
TUR
14:36.79
15:22.96
27.12.1982
ESP
14:46.30
14:46.30
07.05.1991
KEN
14:35.13
14:35.13
11.09.1983
KEN
14:22.51
14:31.92
08.07.1981
USA
14:44.80
14:45.20
26.09.1981
USA
14:58.48
15:31.26
28.03.1984
KEN
14:31.91
15:11.08
22.12.1983
KEN
14:34.86
14:34.86
19.12.1985
KEN
14:38.64
14:39.71
01.03.1988
KEN
14:41.28
14:41.28
01.08.1973
USA
16:04.86
13.02.1981
KEN
14:50.77
27.06.1980
KEN
14:35.30
14:40.86
10.06.1986
KEN
15:17.03
15:17.03
01.01.1989
KEN

Women's B 800m: American Molly Beckwith Leads Field
1:05 pm
Eastern

Former Indiana Hoosier Molly Beckwith, who broke 2:00 for the first time this year and got her Olympic A qualifier last week in Lignano when she set a new personal best of 1:59.12, will compete in a pretty competitive B heat that features three women who have broken 2:00 this year. Beckwith, who was 7th at USAs this year and was the NCAA runner-up in 2010 outdoors, leads the B heat in terms of seasonal bests.

Athlete DATE OF BIRTH Nation PB SB
25.12.1987
MAR
2:00.6h
2:01.28
04.08.1987
USA
1:59.12
1:59.12
20.11.1983
SVK
1:58.51
1:59.48
17.02.1991
ROU
2:00.06
2:03.60
13.01.1986
RUS
2:01.85
2:02.32
07.08.1981
NOR
1:59.82
2:01.16
20.07.1978
AUS
1:59.21
2:00.80
05.02.1985
POL
2:00.45
2:02.40
01.01.1988
KEN
1:59.66
1:59.66

The timetable and start lists for all events can be accessed here.

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