A Fan’s Guide To Rome Golden Gala: Top Stars To Clash in 800s (Amos vs Aman; Sum vs. Martinez) and 1500 (Souleiman vs. Kiprop); How Low Can Molly Huddle Go in 5000?

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By LetsRun.com
June 4, 2014

Track and field fans, we hope you’ve caught your breath.

Just five days after a fantastic 2014 Pre Classic, the Diamond League circuit will be on full force once again when the Rome Golden Gala “Pietro Mennea” meet takes place on Thursday. Many of the top mid-d and distance athletes at Pre will race once again in Rome.

Was the victory of world indoor champ Ayanleh Souleiman over Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat in the Bowerman mile a fluke or is last year’s Diamond League winner Souleiman the new leader of the 1500/mile? We’ll find out as all three 1500 titans will race.

The men’s 800 will be riveting once again. David Rudisha is taking this one off to get ready for his sponsor’s adidas Grand Prix but world champ Mo Aman, who saw his 13 race win streak snapped in Eugene, will try to exact revenge on Pre Classic winner Nijel Amos as Duane Solomon will try to rebound from an aborted American record attempt at Pre.

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Top 800 stars Brenda Martinez and Eunice Sum ran the 1500 last week but will be back in the 800 in Rome. Rome also features a few other DL events that weren’t events in Eugene – a men’s steeple with Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto and a women’s 5000 with Mercy Cherono and Viola Kibiwot and American Molly Huddle. Huddle has been on fire in 2014 with a win at the BAA 5k and a 30:47 at Stanford, can she possibly challenge her 14:44 American record?

We preview each of the mid-d and distance events for you below in the order they occur. There is a lot of great non distance action like a fantastic men’s HJ and women’s 60mh that you can read all about in the IAAF meet preview.

Note: We wrote the preview assuming the top Kenyan stars will be at the meet as they are still on the start lists. But an article in The Standard said Asbel Kipro, Eunice Sum, Milcah Chemos, Lydia Chepkurui, Purity Kirui, Alfred Kipketer, Collins Cheboi and James Magut have all been banned from the Diamond League by Athletics Kenya because their form has dipped. When we first read the article, we honestly had to remind ourselves it wasn’t April Fool’s as it is that outrageous. US fans, if you ever wonder how Americans manage to medal in the Olympics, just read the statements in there from Athletics Kenya boss Isaiah Kiplagat. We firmly believe Athletics Kenya costs Kenya more medals than they help them win and the statements are off-based. Case in point, Eunice Sum‘s form hasn’t dropped. She just set a 1500 pb at Pre.

We wrote the Rome press office and they wrote back as follows, “We have been informed after the arrival of the athletes in Roma. They are here, and we are now facing the situation. At the moment, we can’t confirm their participation to the event.”

Now it looks like the Kenyan aren’t leaving – at least Asbel Kiprop.

Men’s 1500 (2:13 p.m. ET): Prefontaine ReMatch and Will Kiprop Run?

Eight of the 14 guys from the epic and historically deep Bowerman Mile at the Pre Classic will run again in Rome just five days later, including winner Ayanleh Souleiman, whose 3:47.32 mile in Eugene was the fastest in the world since Alan Webb‘s 3:46.91 American record in 2007. As it was at Pre, the rest of the field is very fast here as well, with the likes of Silas Kiplagat, Abdelaati Iguider, two-time defending world champ Asbel Kiprop and Olympic champ Taoufik Makhloufi some of the other big names on display.

The whole field:

Name Nat. PB SB Comment
BARUSEI Geofrey KEN 3:33.39 20-year-old rabbited 4 DL races in ’13, but with Maiyo + Rotich in field, perhaps he finishes race?
CARVALHO Florian FRA 3:33.47 Made first WC final last year; 1:52.87 800 win on May 17
CHEBOI Collins KEN 3:31.53 3:32.30 6th at Pre mile in 3:49.56; part of Kenya’s WR 4×1500 at World Relays
CRONJE Johan RSA 3:31.93 3:33.31 WC bronze medalist set SA national record at Pre (3:50.70)
DRIOUCH Hamza QAT 3:33.69 3:47.48 19-year-old World Junior champ was last at Doha on May 9 in 3:47 in only outdoor race
EL KAAM Fouad MAR 3:33.71 3:37.74 Ran 3:54 to take 8th in B heat of mile at Pre
IGUIDER Abdelaati MAR 3:31.47 Olympic bronze medalist and ’12 indoor world champ was 4th at Pre mile in 3:49.09
KIPLAGAT Silas KEN 3:29.27 3:29.70 11 world silver medalist is one of DL’s most consistent runners. 2nd at Pre mile in PB (3:47.88).
KIPROP Asbel KEN 3:27.72 3:29.18 Two-time defending world champ won in Doha but was off his game at Pre (7th in 3:50.26)
MAIYO Hillary Kipkorir KEN 3:35.43 3:36.98 Likely rabbit (was rabbit in Doha and at Pre)
MAKHLOUFI Taoufik ALG 3:30.40 3:30.40 12 OG champ ran well in Doha (3:30) but was well back at Pre (11th in 3:52.16)
ROTICH Andrew Kiptoo KEN 3:43.43 Also rabbited Doha and Pre
SOULEIMAN Ayanleh DJI 3:30.16 3:30.16 World indoor champ ran fastest mile since ’07 (3:47.32) to beat loaded field at Pre
TESFAYE Homiyu GER 3:33.33 3:33.33 20-year-old made WC final last year; 11th in Doha; ran 2:17.56 1000 on May 18
WOTE Aman ETH 3:30.86 3:30.86 World indoor silver medalist ran 3:48.60 at Pre to take 3rd and break Deresse Mekonnen’s Ethiopian record

Quick Thought #1: Is Souleiman, not Kiprop, the man to beat here?

When he’s at his absolute best, we believe Asbel Kiprop is the best 1500 runner on the planet. But Souleiman is very, very good, and a worthy challenger to Kiprop.  Based on Souleiman’s own accomplishments and his win over Kiprop at Pre, it’s not wrong to think  Souleiman deserves to be the favorite in this one.

Souleiman is very accomplished.  In 2012 at age 19, he ran 3:30 and 3:50. Last year, he won a global medal at 800 showing he’s got great speed. This year he won world indoors in March, was third behind Kiprop in Doha on May 9 (but still ran a PB of 3:30.16) and just beat what the deepest mile field ever assembled at Pre. And while Kiprop is the defending world champ and ran 3:27.72 last year, it was Souleiman who won the Diamond Race in 2013.

Oregonlive.com simply had it wrong when they wrote after the Bowerman mile that Souleiman was a “little-known” guy who pulled off a “huge upset”.

Quick Thought #2: It will be interesting to see how the field does on the quick turnaround after Eugene.

Nine of the guys in this race ran a very hard mile in Eugene on Saturday (the eight from the Bowerman mile plus Fouad El Kaam, who was in the B heat at Pre). Now, only five days later, they’re all running another hard 1500 in Rome. Rome is 5,898 miles from Eugene as the crow flies, but unfortunately there aren’t any direct flights from Eugene to Rome. The athletes spent almost an entire day traveling right after their race, and when you factor in recovery and easy days before races, there’s no way they can get in a quality workout before Thursday.

We were reminded of the Stockholm Diamond League meet last year, where Souleiman beat a bunch of tired guys who had run the world championship final in Moscow just four days earlier. Souleiman’s 3:33.59 winning time in that race was the second-slowest of the year on the DL circuit (the weak Birmingham 1500 was won in 3:35.99) and the newly-crowned world champ Kiprop was just sixth in 3:35.49. The quality of the field at Pre was equal to or greater than that of an Olympic final, and we’ll bet that running that fast (10 guys under 3:52, six under 3:50) will result in a slower race in Rome.

Women’s 5000 (2:45 p.m. ET): Genzebe Dibaba Returns and What can Molly Huddle Do?

At the start of the 2014 outdoor season with no Meseret Defar (pregnant) and Tirunesh Dibaba (who is focusing on the roads at the moment), it looked as if there was going to be two new rulers on the track, Abebe Aregawi and Genzebe Dibaba. Much like in the past, when the two Ethiopian stars Defar and Dibaba were largely unbeatable except when racing each other, Aregawi and Dibaba had that same aura around them as they were unstoppable indoors. One small problem, Aregawi’s and Dibaba’s dominance from the indoor campaign hasn’t extended to outdoors.

Genzebe Dibaba set three world-records indoors but was just sixth in her only outdoor race this year in the Doha DL 3k (and Aregawi was beaten in the 1500 at Pre). Was that race just an awful day for Dibaba or has she once again failed how to figure out to run fast late into the season?

We’ll start to find out on Thursday as this is a very loaded women’s 5000 field. Genzebe Dibaba will face four of the top six from last year’s world championship final, including American Molly Huddle. The runner to beat in this one is probably 2013 world silver medalist Mercy Cherono, who became the second-fastest woman ever outdoors (in an all-female race) with her 9:13.27 2 mile win at the Pre Classic on Saturday. Fellow Kenyan Viola Kibiwot was right behind Cherono in that race (9:13.48) and should also contend for the win.

Name COUNTRY PB SB Comment
AYALEW Hiwot ETH 14:57.0 WC 4th-placer in steeple just ran 9:12 steeple to get second at Pre on Saturday
AYANA Almaz ETH 14:25.8 Moscow bronze medalist ran 8:24 3k in Doha on May 9
BELETE Almenesh BEL 15:03.6 31:43 10k at Payton Jordan but just 4:17 1500 on Saturday in Belgium
BLEASDALE Julia GBR 15:02.0 31:42 10k at Payton Jordan; 5th at road mile in London on May 24 (4:39)
CHECA Dolores ESP 14:46.3 10th at worlds last year but only 16:19 on the roads in Austria on May 25
CHERONO Mercy KEN 14:35.1 15:04.1 WC silver medalist became second-fastest ever at 2 miles outdoors at Pre (9:13)
CONLEY Kim USA 15:09.6 Made last two US teams at 5k. 4:11 last time out at Oxy 1500 on May 15.
DIBABA Genzebe ETH 14:37.6 Unbeatable indoors with world indoor gold and WRs at 1500, 3k and 2 miles. Only sixth last time out at Doha 3k on May 9 (8:26).
GEBRESLASE Gotytom ETH 15:11.1 19-year-old was 5th at B.A.A. 5k in 15:17
HAROYE Alemitu ETH 15:05.1 19-year-old took bronze at world XC junior race in ’13; 8:45 3k in Doha on May 9
HUDDLE Molly USA 14:44.8 AR holder running well — 30:47 10k (#2 performer all-time U.S.) at Payton Jordan on May 4, 15:12 FTW at B.A.A. 5k in April
JELAGAT Irene KEN 16:08.2h 7th in Doha 3k (8:28); helped set 4×1500 WR at World Relays
KIBIWOT Viola Jelagat KEN 14:33.5 4th at WC last year; right behind Cherono in Pre 2 mile (9:13)
KISA Janet KEN 14:57.7 6th at world XC last year; last race was 71:01 half marathon win in France
NOUJANI Nadia MAR 15:16.5 23rd at world XC last year; 2014 debut
PAVEY Joanne GBR 14:40.0 15:11.5 40-year-old won UK 10,000 title last month and ran 15:11 on May 17
TIROP Agnes Jebet KEN 14:50.4 18-year-old was 2nd at world XC junior race last year; 8:47 3k in Doha is only ’14 result
VARGA Judit ITA Rabbit

Quick Thought #1: Could Huddle challenge her own American record (14:44.76)?

Huddle has been in great form so far in 2014. She ran a quick 69:04 (#5 all-time U.S.) in her half marathon debut in March, defeated a solid field to win the B.A.A. 5k in April and most recently hung with Olympic/world silver medalist Sally Kipyego for most of the Payton Jordan 10,000, running 30:47.59 to become the #2 American all-time at the distance.

We think Huddle can run well under 15:00 right now but the American record may have to wait until July or August. Then again, Dathan Ritzenhein set the American record at 5000 in 2009 off of marathon/10k training, so maybe Huddle can do it.

What does Huddle think? We wrote her in Rome to ask her what the goal was and what the pace for the race was being set up for.

She replied, “(I’m) not sure how fast I can go, just trying to finish well -somewhere in top 6 would be nice. Have not heard anything about pace yet .”

Quick Thought #2: How will Genzebe Dibaba do?

Like everyone else, we were surprised when Dibaba (who was the world indoor champ at 3k and set world indoor records at 1500, 3000 and 2 miles) was just sixth in her outdoor opener in Doha on May 9. That’s not as disastrous as it sounds — she still ran 8:26 after leading most of the race — but it wasn’t close to her 8:16 indoor world record from February.

She does have one advantage over the field here, though: rest. Like the men’s 1500 runners, the best two women in this field — Cherono and Kibiwot — both raced a 2 mile at Pre on Saturday and are now running a 5000 on a different continent with just four days’ rest.

That being said, this is a 5000 and not a 3000, and Dibaba isn’t as proven at the longer distances as she is at 1500/3000. She’s run 14:37 each of the last two years at 5000 but that’s not nearly of dominant of a personal best as her 1500 (3:55) and 3000 (8:16) personal bests.

For more info on Dibaba, we highly recommend a great piece by LetsRun.com’s friend Sabrina Yohannes from Tadias Magazine:

Genzebe Dibaba Wants More World Records: She and Coach Jama Aden Target Two Marks

Genzebe Dibaba Wants More World Records: She and Coach Jama Aden Target Two Marks – See more at: http://www.tadias.com/05/27/2014/genzebe-dibaba-wants-more-world-records-she-and-coach-jama-aden-target-two-marks/#sthash.uap6JueI.dpuf
Genzebe Dibaba Wants More World Records: She and Coach Jama Aden Target Two Marks – See more at: http://www.tadias.com/05/27/2014/genzebe-dibaba-wants-more-world-records-she-and-coach-jama-aden-target-two-marks/#sthash.uap6JueI.dpuf
Tadias Magazinedd

The article quotes coach Jama Aden as saying her workouts have been going great had expected something between 8:14 and 8:18 from Dibaba in Doha but her foot was bothering her a little bit. The article also reveals that he like LetsRun seems to feel her best distance is somewhere between 1500 and 5000 as she’s going to try to get a world record at 2000 in Ostrava on June 17th and then 2-miles later this summer.

Women’s 800 (3:20 p.m. ET): Brenda and Ajee vs Eunice Sum and Sahily Diago Mesa

The women’s 800 in Rome doubles as a grudge match between World Relays rivals Kenya and the U.S. On May 25, the U.S. women’s 4×800 was the only mid-d relay to defeat mighty Kenya, taking gold in an American-record 8:01.58. The top two Americans from that team — Ajee Wilson and world bronze medalist Brenda Martinez — are both on the start list for this one, as are three of the Kenyans from their 4×800 — ’07 world champ Janeth Jepkosgei, ’13 world champ Eunice Sum and 20-year-old Agatha Jeruto. Will it be more of the U.S.-Kenya show or can someone else, like 2009 world champ Caster Semenya or 18-year-old Cuban phenom Sahily Diago Mesa, steal the win?

Name DATE OF BIRTH COUNTRY PB SB Comment
AKKAOUI Malika 25.12.1987 MAR 1:57.64 2:02.72 2-time African champs bronze medalist ran 4:08 1500 on May 24
ALMANZA Rose Mary 13.07.1992 CUB 1:59.4h 1:59.76 Only 8th at Doha DL on May 9 but did run 1:59.76 on May 25
ARZAMASOVA Marina 17.12.1987 BLR 1:59.30 World indoor bronze medalist making her outdoor debut
CICHOCKA Angelika 15.03.1988 POL 2:00.20 2:00.90 World indoor silver medalist was 5th at the non-DL 800 at Pre in outdoor opener
DIAGO MESA Sahily 26.08.1995 CUB 1:57.74 1:57.74 The Cuban Ajee Wilson? 18-year-old ran #6 junior time ever (and world leader) on May 25 in Cuba.
JEPKOSGEI Janeth 13.12.1983 KEN 1:56.04 2:00.49 07 world champ was 4th at Doha on May 9; 1:59.6 split as part of silver medal 4×800 at World Relays
JERUTO Agatha 02.04.1994 KEN 2:03.22 2:05.4h 20-year-old split just 2:03.8 at World Relays
MAGISO Fantu 09.06.1992 ETH 1:57.48 All-Africa Games silver in ’11. Outdoor debut.
MARTINEZ Brenda 08.09.1987 USA 1:57.91 1:59.91 WC bronze medalist split 1:58.6 to give U.S. 4×800 World Relay gold; ran 4:02 1500 at Pre
MILANI Marta 09.03.1987 ITA 2:01.35 2:03.83 Only 2:03.89 in France on May 25
MUKASHEVA Margarita 01.04.1986 KAZ 1:58.96 World University Games champ hasn’t raced since September
SEMENYA Caster 07.01.1991 RSA 1:55.45 2:03.05 09 world champ won SA champs on April 12 but hasn’t raced since
SUM Eunice Jepkoech 10.04.1988 KEN 1:57.38 1:59.33 World champ won in Doha on May 9; sixth in Pre 1500 in 4:01. Won 8 straight 800s.
WILSON Ajee 08.05.1994 USA 1:58.21 2:03.81 6th at WC last year; broke open World Relays 4×800 with 1:59.1 split on third leg.

Quick Thought #1: Doubling back from the Pre 1500 won’t hurt Martinez and Sum as much.

Running a mile and a 1500 or a 2 mile and a 5000 within five days is different than running a 1500 and an 800. The 800 is only two laps so you don’t need as much recovery, and while Martinez and Sum both had to travel a long way to get to Rome, they’re also probably the two best 800 runners in the world right now. They should do fine here.

Quick Thought #2: The return of Caster Semenya.

Semenya is one of the most puzzling figures in the sport of track and field. In 2009, she convincingly won the 800 at worlds amid a gender controversy and followed that up with a silver at worlds in 2011, putting up no fight when eventual champ Mariya Savinova passed her on the home stretch. In 2012, she was 8th and 9th in her only Diamond League races before taking Olympic silver. Then last year, she couldn’t even get a B qualifier for worlds, but ran 2:00.74 and later 1:58.92 in September.

So far this year, Semenya has run a 400 and 800 in South Africa in March and won the South African title in the 800 in April. We have no idea what kind of shape she’s in and will be watching her closer in this one.

Quick Thought #3: Sahily Diago Mesa is the Cuban Ajee Wilson.

Wilson, the 2012 world junior champ, ran 1:58.21 and finished sixth at worlds last year as a 19-year-old. Mesa, who turns 19 in August, won the Cuban national championship at 17 last year but entered 2014 with a PB of 2:00.9h. That’s very good for an 18-year-old (she actually ran the time when she was 16) but not quite world class. Then Mesa made a huge breakthrough on May 9, running a world-leading 1:58.14 at the La Habana meet in Cuba. She bettered that on May 25 at La Habana Barrientos Memorial, running 1:57.74 to become the sixth-fastest junior in history. Right now, she’s got the two fastest times in the world in 2014. Mesa is a real phenom but she’s unknown on the global stage. A win here in her Diamond League debut would change that.

Men’s 3000 steeplechase (3:40 p.m. ET): Kemboi vs Kipruto is Always Interesting

Yes, there is a men’s steeplchase in Rome, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time previewing it since there’s nothing too newsworthy about it and there are no Americans in the field. Most of the top guys from the first DL steeple in Doha on May 9 return here, including Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto, the two men who have combined to win every global title since 2007. The 32-year-old Kemboi will be favored since he’s won the last four global titles and ran a world-leading 8:04.12 to win in Doha. But Kipruto was just half a second back of Kemboi in that race, with worlds 4th-placer Paul Koech right behind them in third. We can’t tell you for sure who will win this race, but we’ll guarantee one thing: he will be Kenyan. Since the Diamond League began in 2010, Kenyans are 28-for-29 in DL steeples.

Name DATE OF BIRTH COUNTRY PB SB Comment
BIRECH Jairus Kipchoge 14.12.1992 KEN 8:03.43 8:06.55 4th in Doha on May 9; ran SB in Beijing on May 21
BOULAMA Mohammed 31.12.1993 MAR 8:21.62 8:34.37 6th in Tokyo on May 11 in only steeple this year
CHEMLAL Jaouad 11.04.1994 MAR 8:19.22 8:23.79 4th at world juniors in ’12; 10th in Doha on May 9
DEMCZYSZAK Mateusz 18.01.1986 POL 8:26.30 Polish champ in ’13 split 3:46.1 in 4×1500 at World Relays in only outdoor race
EZZINE Hamid 05.10.1983 MAR 8:09.72 8:23.66 9th at worlds, 7th at Olympics; 9th in Doha on May 9
FLORIANI Yuri 25.12.1981 ITA 8:22.62 Olympic finalist ran 30:37 road 10k in only ’14 race
GARCÍA Víctor 13.03.1985 ESP 8:15.20 Spanish indoor 3k champ took European bronze in ’12
KEMBOI Ezekiel 25.05.1982 KEN 7:55.76 8:04.12 Winner of last four global champs won DL opener in Doha on May 9
KEMBOI Clement Kimutai 01.01.1992 KEN 8:17.18 8:19.19 Ran 8:19 on June 2 and will race again here just three days later
KIPRUTO Brimin Kiprop 31.07.1985 KEN 7:53.64 8:04.64 08 OG champ was 2nd behind E. Kemboi in Doha
KIPSANG Lawrence Kemboi 01.01.1993 KEN 8:25.0h 8:29.46 Ran 8:29 on June 2 and, like C. Kemboi, will race here as well
KIRUI Gilbert 22.01.1994 KEN 8:06.96 8:11.86 World Junior silver medalist was 6th in Doha
KOECH Paul Kipsiele 10.11.1981 KEN 7:54.31 8:05.47 Worlds 4th-placer was 4th in Doha and won in Beijing on May 21
LAGAT Haron 15.08.1983 KEN 8:15.80 8:20.01 Former Texas Tech runner was 7th in Beijing in 8:20
MUTAI Abel Kiprop 02.10.1988 KEN 8:01.67 8:17.77 Olympic bronze medalist was 7th in Doha; ran 8:35.0h FTW in Kenya on May 15
PEÑA José Gregorio 12.01.1987 VEN 8:20.87 8:36.81 13 South American champ hasn’t raced since March 16
SAFIULIN Ilgizar 09.12.1992 RUS 8:28.65 8:33.99 World University Games champ ran SB in Sochi on May 29
ZALEWSKI Krystian 11.04.1989 POL 8:23.31 Ran 8:04 flat 3k in Latvia on May 29

Men’s 800 (4:15 p.m. ET): Amos vs Aman vs Kaki

Though this isn’t actually a Diamond League event, the top three from the loaded Pre 800 — Nijel Amos of Botswana, Mo Aman of Ethiopia and Abubaker Kaki of Sudan — will all run again here. Add in Pole Marcin Lewandowski (4th at 2013 worlds, 6th at Pre), Kenyan Job Kinyor (won B heat of 800 at Pre) and American Duane Solomon (6th at 2013 worlds, #2 in the world in 2014) and you’ve got a very competitive field.

Name DATE OF BIRTH COUNTRY PB SB Comment
AMAN Mohammed 10.01.1994 ETH 1:42.37 1:43.99 Indoor/outdoor world champ was 2nd at Pre and won in Doha on May 9
AMOS Nijel 15.03.1994 BOT 1:41.73 1:43.63 Olympic silver medalist netted first DL win over incredible field at Pre
BALLA Musaeb Abdulrahman 19.03.1989 QAT 1:43.93 1:45.37 Asian indoor champ ran SB to take 6th in Doha
BELHANBEL Nader 01.07.1994 MAR 1:45.69 1:47.35 Moroccan champ ran SB to win in France on May 11
BENEDETTI Giordano 22.05.1989 ITA 1:44.67 1:46.10 2nd in Tokyo in 1:46.10; 2nd in Portugal on May 25 in 1:47.72
KAKI Abubaker 21.06.1989 SUD 1:42.23 1:44.09 2-time world indoor champ looked good in first race in over a year at Pre (3rd in 1:44.09)
KINYOR Job 08.05.1990 KEN 1:43.76 1:44.6h 4th in Doha; won B heat of 800 at Pre
LEWANDOWSKI Marcin 13.06.1987 POL 1:43.79 1:44.79 4th at worlds last year, 6th at Pre; part of silver medal 4×800 at World Relays
LÓPEZ Kevin 12.06.1990 ESP 1:43.74 1:45.69 Spanish record holder split just 1:48.1 in World Relays 4×800
SOLOMON Duane 28.12.1984 USA 1:42.82 1:43.88 6th at worlds last year; AR attempt at Pre fell well short; #2 time in world in ’14
SOM Bram 20.02.1980 NED 1:43.45 Rabbit
SOWINSKI Erik 21.12.1989 USA 1:44.58 1:44.58 U.S. indoor champ ran great at Mt. SAC but not as well since; 3rd in B heat of 800 at Pre (1:45.64)

Quick Thought #1: The Amos-Aman-Rudisha rivalry is great for the sport.

A lot has been written about the rivalry between Mo Aman and David Rudisha. Until Saturday, Aman was the only man to have beaten Rudisha since 2010. During Rudisha’s absence from May 2013 to May 2014, Aman dominated the 800, but casual fans failed to realize that not only Rudisha gone, so was the 1:41 silver medallist Amos.

Amos nearly beat Aman in his return to the DL circuit in Doha and did beat him last week in Eugene. Couple that his Olympic silver medal and 1:41 pb, and it’s clear Nijel Amos deserves to be included in that rivalry as well.

It reminds us a lot of tennis. For years, Roger Federer (David Rudisha) was dominant. Then it looked like there was going to be an incredible rivalry between him and Rafael Nadal (Mo Aman) who started winning Slams. But suddenly, it was a three-man rivalry and the man last to the party Novak Djokovic (Nijel Amos) was the one to beat.

We spoke to Aman after Pre and he said that he felt that the 800 was one of the most competitive events right now and that he loved being able to race so many fast guys. Wouldn’t it be nice if Duane Solomon or Nick Symmonds can play the Andy Murray role and swoop in to win a title after years of being very good?

Enough with he tennis analogies, in this one we expect to get a clear picture of who is better right now Amos or Aman. Aman was so focused on beating Rudisha in Eugene that he made a foolish big move right before 600 that handed the race to Amos.

Quick Thought #2: Don’t expect an American record in this one either.

In our interview with Solomon after Pre, he said that he might make another American record attempt much later in the summer but that he didn’t know what meet that might be at. He said that he’d been racing a lot recently (he’s also running the 800 in New York on June 14 which will be his fifth race in five weeks) and that he’d like to take some time to get some high quality training in after the U.S. championships (June 26-29) before racing in Europe again. Here’s what Solomon’s schedule has looked like for May and June:

Race Date Location
Ponce Grand Prix 5/17/2014 Ponce, Puerto Rico
IAAF World Relays 5/24/2014 Nassau, Bahamas
Prefontaine Classic 5/31/2014 Eugene, Oregon
Rome Golden Gala 6/5/2014 Rome, Italy
adidas Grand Prix 6/14/2014 New York, New York
USATF championships 6/26/2014 Sacramento, California

Quick Thought #3: When will we see Robert Biwott again?

In case you forgot, the 18-year-old Biwott is the man who passed a showboating Taoufik Makhloufi to win the 800 at the Shanghai DL event on May 18. Biwott ran 1:44.69 there and we were wondering when we’d next see him on the circuit. He was known as a 1500 man coming into the year (World Youth title last year) so it will be interesting to see if he takes a stab at a 1500 or 800 when he next shows up on the circuit.


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