M 800: Can 1500 Man Ayanleh Souleiman End Nijel Amos’ Dominance?

Amos has been untouchable in the 800 over the last month but the last man to beat him was a 1500 guy, Asbel Kiprop. Souleiman just beat Kiprop by closing in 52.1 to win the African Champs and is Amos’ biggest threat to Stockholm. Poland’s European champ Adam Kszczot and Kenya’s Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum are also entered. Plus there is a B 800 with Leo Manzano and B 1500 with  Jordan McNamara, Tommy Schmitz and Dorian Ulrey.

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By LetsRun.com
August 20, 2014

After a month-long hiatus, the Diamond League resumes on Thursday with the DN Galan meet in Stockholm and one of the marquee events is the men’s 800. Though Nijel Amos is the only one of the event’s Big Three on the start list (Mo Aman and David Rudisha are absent), it’s still a compelling event featuring European champ Adam Kszczot, Olympic bronze medallist Timothy Kitum (in just his second race of the year) and 1500 stud Ayanleh Souleiman.

Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop and the U.S.’s Duane Solomon were on the start lists for the 800 on Tuesday morning but their names were removed on Tuesday afternoon and they do not appear to be running.

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We break down the 800 for you below and also preview the ‘B’ 800 and 1500.

Other event 2014 DN Galan previews are here: *Jenny Simpson vs. Sifan Hassan vs. Abeba Aregawi in 1500; Emma Coburn Highlights Steeplechase
*M 5000: Galen Rupp Battles Hagos Gebrhiwet, Caleb Ndiku; Ben True and Hassan Mead Chase Sub-13:00

Men’s 800 (3:22 p.m. ET)

ALMGREN Andreas SWE 1:45.65 1:45.65 World Junior bronze medallist didn’t make final at Euros
AMOS Nijel BOT 1:41.73 1:42.45 World’s best in the event coming off wins at Commonwealth, African champs
BOSSE Pierre-Ambroise FRA 1:42.53 1:42.53 Has world’s #2 time in ’14 but last in final at Euros
KITUM Timothy KEN 1:42.53 1:43.65 Olympic bronze medallist running just 2nd race of ’14
KSZCZOT Adam POL 1:43.30 1:44.15 Won Euro champs easily but highest DL finish this year is 5th
LEWANDOWSKI Marcin POL 1:43.79 1:44.24 5th at Euros; 4th at Worlds last year
LÓPEZ Yeimer CUB 1:43.07 1:43.71 3rd in Paris in 1:43.71
SOM Bram NED 1:43.45 Rabbit
SOULEIMAN Ayanleh DJI 1:43.63 1:43.69 Closed very quickly to win 1500 at African champs
Amos lost to 1500 specialist Kiprop in Paris on July 5.

Amos lost to 1500 specialist Kiprop in Paris on July 5

Nijel Amos has been the best in the world this year, but can he be beaten?

With wins at the Pre Classic and Monaco (the latter in a world-leading time) as well as the Commonwealth Games (over Rudisha) and the African Champs (over Aman), there can be little doubt that Amos is the best in the world at the two-lap distance in 2014. With no Rudisha or Aman in Stockholm and world #2 Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France coming off a poor performance at the European Championships, Amos would appear to be the heavy favorite on Thursday.

While Amos is certainly the favorite, “heavy favorite” is probably a bit much given the presence of one of the world’s best 1500 runners in Souleiman, who has a strong case for upsetting Amos.

Souleiman, in case you forgot, was the bronze medallist in the 800 at Worlds last year and last month ran 1:43.69 at a race in Sweden, missing his PR by .06. In fact, three of his four fastest times over 800 have come in Sweden, which is where Thursday’s race will take place. If you’re not buying the “Sweden makes Souleiman run fast” argument, also consider how fast Souleiman ran at last week’s African Champs in Marrakech, Morocco. After a slow first 700, Souleiman ran his last 800 in 1:50.8 (our split) and his last lap in 52.06 (official split) to get the win over Kiprop, Ronald Kwemoi and Mekonnen Gebremedhin. For comparison’s sake, Amos won the 800 at the same meet in 1:48.54 with a last lap of about 51.8 seconds (our split). That’s a little misleading as Amos had to get out of a box on the backstretch and run some extra distance, but Souleiman’s close — especially his 37.7 last 300 — suggests that he is in great 800 shape right now.

It will be very interesting to see how this race plays out tactically. Souleiman likes to run at or near the front in the 1500 so perhaps he try and get out behind the rabbit, Bram Som. Amos, meanwhile, usually waits until the final 100 to make his move; since he lost to Kiprop, no one has been able to touch him in the home straight. Will Souleiman’s 1500 strength be enough to hold off Amos in the home stretch as Kiprop did in Paris?

How good is Adam Kszczot?

Even if this race was just Souleiman and Amos, it would be compelling (actually, that’s a cool idea for the end of the season — bring back the match race!). But there will be six other guys on the start line and the one with the best chance to break up those three is Kszczot, who looked fantastic in winning Euros last week. Kszczot was in a different league than everyone else on that day, and though the competition will be stiffer here, his close makes him a threat to place highly.

The return of Timothy Kitum

The gold and silver medallists from the London Olympics — David Rudisha and Nijel Amos — are pretty well known in the sport of track and field. Not so for bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, who has faded from the spotlight since then. Kitum is eight months younger than Amos and was only 17 when he ran 1:42.53 to take third in London, but he did not fulfill his promise in 2013. Kitum was just sixth at the Kenyan World Championships trials and didn’t make the team, and though he was a regular on the Diamond League circuit, he never ran faster than 1:44.45 and broke 1:45 just twice.

Now 19, Kitum has only raced once in 2014: an impressive 1:43.65 win in Heusden on July 19. He’ll face a much better field in Stockholm and if there’s a dark horse for the win, it’s Kitum.

Kipketer anchored Kenya to World Relays gold in May.

Kipketer held off Kszczot to anchor Kenya to World Relays gold in May

Alfred Kipketer should be in this race

Space is limited in DL 800s and some very fast runners can be left out of races because the event is so strong right now. But we don’t understand why Kenya’s World Junior champ Alfred Kipketer has been relegated to the B 800 in Stockholm. Kipketer is known for going out really fast and holding on (he almost cost Kenya gold in the 4×800 at the World Relays). He’s run 1:43.95 and that was a solo effort in the World Junior final. As soon as we saw that race, our next thought was to get that guy in a Diamond League race ASAP, but Kipketer won’t get the chance to run against the big boys on Thursday.

The one guy Kipketer is clearly better than is Swede Andreas Almgren, whom Kipketer defeated handily at World Juniors (Kipketer won in 1:43.95 while Almgren took bronze in 1:45.65). Both guys ran PRs in that race, and if you compare Almgren’s 1:45.65 to the rest of the Stockholm field, he sticks out like a sore thumb — he’s the only entrant not to have broken 1:44. Obviously Almgren is in the race as a nod to the hometown fans, but if we’re going purely by merit, he clearly has no business being in this field.

Right now there are nine guys on the start list and one of them is the rabbit. There’s no reason not to make a couple guys share a lane at the start and add in Kipketer, who would be making his DL debut as the World Junior champ. He may not win the fast heat, but he has the credentials and his front-running style guarantees that the race will be exciting. The Stockholm organizers dropped the ball on this one.

B race (1:48 p.m. ET)

As we mentioned, there is a B race and there are some interesting names in it including Kipketer, Henrik IngebrigtsenLeo Manzano and David Torrence.

BALLA Musaeb Abdulrahman 19.03.1989 QAT 1:43.93 1:44.12
BETT Reuben 06.11.1984 KEN 1:44.79 1:46.55
BUBE Andreas 13.07.1987 DEN 1:44.89 1:45.21
GUNNARSSON Rickard 19.09.1991 SWE 1:47.20 1:47.20
HAIRANE Jamal 26.05.1993 QAT 1:47.61 1:48.46
INGEBRIGTSEN Henrik 24.02.1991 NOR 1:48.09 1:48.09
KIPKETER Alfred 26.12.1996 KEN 1:43.95 1:43.95
MANZANO Leonel 12.09.1984 USA 1:44.56 1:46.32
ROGESTEDT Johan 27.01.1993 SWE 1:46.34 1:46.34
ROHLÉN Robin 05.05.1990 SWE 1:47.94 1:49.85
SVENSSON Johan 16.05.1989 SWE 1:47.15 1:48.73
TORRENCE David 26.11.1985 USA 1:45.14 1:46.71

Men’s 1500 (1:21 p.m. ET)

There’s also a non-DL 1500 with a ton of entrants (18) that features Americans Ahmed BileJordan McNamaraTommy Schmitz and Dorian Ulrey.

BERGLUND Kalle 01.01.1996 SWE
BILE Ahmed 21.09.1993 USA 3:43.43 3:43.43
BUENO Andreas 07.07.1988 DEN 3:38.44 3:38.44
DRIOUCH Hamza 16.11.1994 QAT 3:33.69 3:47.48
DURÉN Joel 01.01.1994 SWE
EK Staffan 01.01.1991 SWE
HUFFER Craig 27.10.1989 AUS 3:36.35
HYDÉN Johan 06.03.1989 SWE 3:43.69 3:48.47
INGEBRIGTSEN Filip 20.04.1993 NOR 3:38.76 3:40.48
LEANDERSSON Jonas 26.01.1991 SWE 3:39.37 3:39.37
LEVAY William 01.01.1996 SWE
LUNDGREN Daniel 04.07.1985 SWE 3:47.83 3:57.20
MARTTINEN Riku 01.01.1987 FIN
MCNAMARA Jordan 07.03.1987 USA 3:34.00 3:37.39
O’LIONAIRD Ciaran 11.04.1988 IRL 3:34.46 3:37.72
SCHMITZ Tommy 01.01.1983 USA
ULREY Dorian 11.07.1987 USA 3:35.23 3:38.73
WALLDÉN Johan 01.01.1987 SWE 3:41.79 3:41.79

Other event 2014 DN Galan previews are here: *Jenny Simpson vs. Sifan Hassan vs. Abeba Aregawi in 1500; Emma Coburn Highlights Steeplechase
*M 5000: Galen Rupp Battles Hagos Gebrhiwet, Caleb Ndiku; Ben True and Hassan Mead Chase Sub-13:00