Americans Molly Huddle, Amy Hastings, Ajee’ Wilson And Kate Grace To Also Compete
July 4, 2013
The IAAF Diamond League track and field series stops in Paris on Saturday as the 2013 Meeting Areva (formerly the Meeting Gaz de France) takes place. Below we preview a stellar women’s 5,000, which features a clash between the Dibaba sisters Genzebe and Tirunesh for the first time in four years, as well as American record holder Molly Huddle, and women’s 800 where Alysia Montaño will battle with world leader Francince Niysonaba.
2:27PM ET: Women’s 5,000: The Dibaba Sibling Rivalry Takes Center Stage
|Athlete||DATE OF BIRTH||Nation||PB||SB|
Mom and Dad might have a tough time watching this one.
The women’s 5,000 in Paris features a battle between the Dibaba sisters. Three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh, arguably the greatest female distance runner in women’s track history, will take on little sister Genzebe.
The sisters, who are five years and 4 months apart (Tirunesh is 27, Genzebe is 22), have raced four times previously, all at the 5,000 distance, and it has never been close as shown below. Little sis has only come within 20 seconds of big sis once in her career.
|Tirunesh Dibaba ETH||Genzebe Dibaba ETH|
|5000 m||Reebok New York NY 2007-06-02||14:35.67 (1)||15:53.46 (10)|
|5000 m||Bislett Oslo 2008-06-06||14:11.15 (1)||15:02.41 (6)|
|5000 m||Rieti 2008 Rieti 2008-09-07||14:23.46 (1)||15:09.61 (3)|
|5000 m||Reebok New York NY 2009-05-30||14:40.93 (2)||15:00.79 (3)|
Don’t let those stats fool you, however. This could be a very close race. The first of those 5,000 encounters was in 2007 and the last in 2009, all a very long time ago. Of course, one of the all-time greats Tirunesh was going to crush her baby sister when her sister was just 16 years old in the first race and 18 in the last.
Genzebe has improved a lot since then. She’s run 3:57 in the 1,500 both last year and this year. Then earlier this year on May 18 in Shanghai, Genzebe returned to the 5,000 and vanquished the women who beat Tirunesh for 5,000 gold in London last year, Meseret Defar.
Given her 1,500 speed, the world started to wonder if Genzebe might be the early favorite for 5,000 gold in Moscow. In Eugene, we even asked big sis Tirunesh at the Prefontaine Classic who would win if they raced at 5,000 and Tirunesh admitted she didn’t know (interview embedded to that spot on the left).
Since then, Genzebe didn’t look nearly as good in her rematch with Defar in Oslo on June 13th. There Genzebe was just third in 14:37 and we wondered afterwards if maybe she should stick to the 1,500 for Worlds given her 3:57 PR in the 1,500 as she seems stuck at 14:37 in the event (she also ran that time in 2011). How she does here will have a big impact on her deciding what event to run in Moscow.
Big sis Tirunesh has won both of her track races this year (14:42 in Eugene and 30:26 in Ostrava last Thursday). However, she trails Defar mightily in terms of seasonal best times in both events, as Defar has run 30:08 and 14:26.
Tirunesh will want to run quick here or she may not even do the 5,000 in Moscow. It’s worth pointing out that she hasn’t broken 14:30 in the 5,000 since 2008 – the year she ran her 14:11.25 world record.
Who Else Is In The Field?
There are a lot of other top Ethiopians besides the Dibabas.
2009 and 2011 Worlds 4th placer in the 5,000 Sentayehu Ejigu races on the track for the first time in 22 months (since September 2011) as she missed all of last year. Paris is a good place for the 28-year-old to begin her comeback as the top two times of her career have come in Paris. In 2010, she ran 14:28.39 and in 2011 she ran 14:31.66 in Paris, both times finishing second.
Buze Diriba, the 2012 world junior champ of Ethiopia, is here as well. The 19-year-old will be looking to break out the 14:50 barrier which she seems stuck on. She’s raced four 5,000s already this year and it’s pretty amazing how close they’ve all been to each other:
Buze Diriba‘s 4 5,000s This Year
14:50.24 6 Diamond Shanghai 18 May
14:51.15 4 Pre Eugene OR 1 Jun
14:52.89 2 FBKG Hengelo 8 Jun
14:50.02 6 Bislett Oslo 13 Jun
London fifth placer Gelete Burka (14:52.93 seasonal best) is here as well.
What About The Americans?
There are three Americans in the field, with two of them racing. US 1,500-meter runner Gabriele Anderson is rabbiting after racing the 1,500 on Thursday in Paris. She’s told us she been instructed to go 2k at 2:51 per km. If you do the math, that’s 14:15 5km pace (4:33.6 per 1,600), which is quite stiff. But if the rabbit only goes 2km, the pace will slow after that before they kick for home.
The two racers are Molly Huddle and Amy Hastings. Huddle, the American record holder, comes in after finishing second to Jenny Simpson at USAs. After that race, she told us she wants to break 15:00 in her next race. Since she ran 15:05 on May 17th, that seems doable here. The question is how close does she get to 14:50. If she’s close, her American record of 14:44.76 could be in jeopardy later in the year.
Hastings was a disappointing fourth in at USAs in the 10,000. But she’s still competing at Worlds in Moscow unless Jordan Hasay or Tara Erdmann can PR by more than 20 seconds and get the “A” of 31:45.00 and the other one gets the “B” of 32:05.00. The meet lists Hastings’ personal best at 15:14.31 but she ran a 15:09.59 in a mixed-gender race before USAs. Could she possibly break 15:00 here?
Quick Thought #1: Jenny Simpson fans, this race could have huge implications on her medal prospects/medal color in Moscow because if Genzebe Dibaba finds 5,000 magic here, she very well might not run the 1,500 in Moscow.
2:46PM ET: Women’s 800: Alysia Montaño Battles World Leader Francine Niyonsaba As Wilson Goes For Mary Cain’s Record And Grace & Fedronic Look To Go Sub-2:00
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In looking at the start lists for the Paris women’s 800, the thought that first popped into our minds was, “What’s wrong with the women’s 800 this year?”
“What are we talking about?” you might ask. Well, last year, 11 women broke 1:58 on the year. This year, one has.
“But it’s only early July,” you say. Well, last year at this point last year, nine of the 11 women had already gone sub-1:58.
People haven’t been running very fast this year. Only eight women have gone sub-1:59.50. Two of them are racing in Paris, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and America’s Alysia Montaño.
The field is led by 2013 world leader Francine Niyonsaba. The 20-year-old from Burundi won the Diamond League 800 opener in Shanghai in 2:00.33 on May 18th and then put up the world leader of 1:56.72 in Eugene on June 1st. She hasn’t raced since. Has she been purposefully laying low for the last month, realizing Moscow is still more than a month away, or did she suffer some sort of injury as she was on the Bislett start list but never showed up? We’ll soon find out.
Alysia Montaño was in that Eugene race with Niyonsaba and was well beaten. Since then, however, Montaño ran the world’s #3 time at USAs where she won her 5th straight US title. Another step forward here and her medal chances are looking really good in Moscow.
2012 world junior champ Ajee’ Wilson races here for the first time as a sub-2:00 runner. At USAs, she ran 1:59.55 to punch her ticket to Moscow. The time she’ll be looking for is 1:59.51 – Mary Cain‘s US junior record.
Two-time African bronze medallist Malika Akkaoui of Morocco is the only other woman in the field who has gone sub-2:00 this year.
Two US-Based Runners Going For Sub-2:00
The field also includes US fourth placer Kate Grace. Grace has already lowered her PR this year from 2:01.63 to 2:00.10 but you know she really wants to go .11 faster here. And that’s after only runnnig 2:03.41 while at Yale in 2011.
Stanford senior Justine Fedronic is running here as well. The NCAA third placer is a dual citizen of Hungary and France and has decided to race for France although she may still become a US citizen down the road as she’s lived in the US since age 6.
She’s trying to do what Kate Grace has done over the last two years all in one month as Fredonic started the NCAA final one month ago (on June 7th) with a PR of 2:03.54. Fredonic still has cross-country and indoor eligibility left for Stanford.
Quick Thought #1: Ethiopian national record holder Fantu Magiso is also in the field but the 21-year-old has been struggling this year after running 1:57 last year.