Paris DL Preview: Can Simpson Get The American Record And Can Rowbury Break 4:00 In A Stacked Women’s 1500; A Fascinating Men’s 800 Of Amos Vs. Kaki Vs. Kiprop

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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, 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.

Full start lists

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).

AMOS Nijel15.03.1994BOT1:41.731:43.63Olympic silver medalist beat Olympic-quality field at Pre on May 31
BIWOTT Robert28.01.1996KEN1:44.691:44.6918-year-old World Youth champ won in DL debut in Shanghai on May 18
BOSSE Pierre-Ambroise11.05.1992FRA1:43.761:44.447th at Worlds and 4th at Pre but just 4th at Euro Team Champs on June 22
CHERUIYOT Ferguson Rotich30.11.1989KEN1:43.221:44.82Won Kenyan Commonwealth trials but only 7th in NY DL on June 14
KAKI Abubaker21.06.1989SUD1:42.231:44.09Running well after long layoff: top-3 in all 3 races including Pre + Rome
KIPROP Asbel30.06.1989KEN1:43.15King of the 1500 will tackle his first 800 of the season here
KSZCZOT Adam02.09.1989POL1:43.301:44.65World indoor silver medalist was 2nd at Euro Team Champs, 5th in NY DL
LEWANDOWSKI Marcin13.06.1987POL1:43.791:44.603rd at Euro Team Champs 1500, 4th in NY DL
LÓPEZ Kevin12.06.1990ESP1:43.741:47.261:43 man has struggled; just 5th at Euro Team Champs
OLIVIER Andre29.12.1989RSA1:44.291:44.851:44 in Shanghai and Beijing in May but no races since
SOM Bram20.02.1980NED1:43.45Rabbit

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.

ADAMU Birtukan29.04.1992ETH9:20.379:27.29
ASSEFA Sofia14.11.1987ETH9:09.009:11.39Olympic/World bronze medalist is world leader and won at Pre and in NY
AYALEW Hiwot06.03.1990ETH9:09.619:12.89World #2 was second at Pre; won in Marrakesh on June 8
BETTICHE Amina14.12.1987ALG9:29.209:29.20
CHEMOS Milcah24.02.1986KEN9:07.149:38.21World champ wasn’t in shape with 9:38 in Shanghai and DNF at Pre. Is she fit now?
CHEPKURUI Lidya23.08.1984KEN9:12.559:27.42World silver medalist is slowly improving: 9:38 in Shanghai, 9:32 at Pre, then 9:27 in NY 6/14
COBURN Emma19.10.1990USA9:17.849:17.84Continues to shine in breakthrough ’14: 9:19 in heat at USAs gives her 3 of world’s top 6 times
DIRO NEDA Etenesh10.05.1991ETH9:14.079:25.695th at Worlds last year but just 9:39 in Marrakesh on June 8
EL OUALI ALAMI Salima29.12.1983MAR9:23.279:23.27Big year at age 30: 4-sec PR in Beijing and another 4-sec PR in Ostrava on June 17
GARCIA Stephanie03.05.1988USA9:28.969:28.96Took 3rd at USAs after 13-sec PR for 4th in NY DL
KIRUI Purity13.08.1991KEN9:19.429:23.43Won Kenyan Commonwealth trials; 2nd in NY in 9:23
KIYENG Hyvin13.01.1992KEN9:22.059:22.58
KRAUSE Gesa Felicitas03.08.1992GER9:23.529:38.76
MCCOLGAN Eilish25.11.1990GBR9:35.829:50.06
NYAMBURA Virginia20.07.1993KEN9:58.0810:02.18Rabbit

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 25th1500Des Moines1st, 4:04.88Won by 2+ secs
May 9th3000Doha1st, 8:20.68Fastest clean time ever outdoors
May 15th800Nairobi1st, 2:00.6h
May 15th1500Nairobi1st, 4:10.0h
May 24th4×1500Nassau1st, 16:33.58World record; Obiri’s 4:06.9 split was fastest of race
May 31st1500Eugene1st, 3:57.05PR and world leader
June 7th1500Nairobi1st, 4:04.97Kenyan 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:

Simpson won her first U.S. outdoor title at 1500 on Sunday (fourth overall)

Simpson won her first U.S. outdoor title at 1500 on Sunday (fourth overall)

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.

AKKAOUI Malika25.12.1987MAR4:04.964:08.88
ARAFI Rababe12.01.1991MAR4:02.714:02.71
AREGAWI Abeba05.07.1990SWE3:56.543:57.57World outdoor/indoor champ won in Shanghai and NY but was beaten by Obiri at Pre
BELETE Mimi09.06.1988BRN4:00.254:01.98Ethiopian-born Belete ran 9:13 2 mile at Pre but just 4:07 1500 in Hengelo on June 8
EMBAYE Axumawit18.10.1994ETH4:04.104:04.10World indoor silver medalist ran just 4:12 in a meet in Sweden last week
ENGLAND Hannah06.03.1987GBR4:01.894:05.274th at Worlds but just 3rd at British champs last week
GEGA Luiza05.11.1988ALB4:03.124:03.12
HASSAN Sifan01.01.1993NED3:59.383:59.385th at Pre; won Euro Team Champs 3k on June 21
KIPYEGON Faith Chepngetich10.01.1994KEN3:56.983:58.0120-year-old was 5th at Worlds last year; 3rd at Pre + 2nd at Kenyan Commonwealth trials
MUIR Laura09.05.1993GBR4:02.914:02.912nd at British champs after 2.41-sec PR in Hengelo June 8
OBIRI Hellen13.12.1989KEN3:57.053:57.05World leader is on fire: 6 straight wins, including Pre + Kenyan Commonwealth trials
ROWBURY Shannon19.09.1984USA4:00.334:03.364th in NY in 4:03; outkicked by Molly Huddle for 5k title at USAs
SEYAUM Dawit27.07.1996ETH3:59.533:59.5317-year-old is special talent: already sub-4:00 and 2nd behind Aregawi (but in front of Simpson) in NY
SIFUENTES Nicole30.06.1986CAN4:04.654:07.24
SIMPSON Jennifer23.08.1986USA3:58.283:58.28World silver medalist looked strong in winning USAs last week
TVERDOSTUP Tamara17.07.1979UKR4:07.434:08.16
WEIGHTMAN Laura01.07.1991GBR4:02.724:02.72British champ PR’d at Pre; can she get closer to 4:00 here?
WRIGHT Phoebe30.08.1988USA4:08.604:22.26Rabbit