June 10, 2015
This week is a busy one in the world of track and field as in addition to the NCAA outdoor championships in Eugene, there are two Diamond League meets on the schedule. The first is Thursday’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, followed by Saturday’s adidas Grand Prix in New York.
There are some great fields in Oslo, headlined by a Bohdan Bondarenko–Mutaz Essa Barshim showdown in the men’s high jump (an event that also contains 2013 world/2012 Olympic bronze medalist Derek Drouin, 2012 Olympic champ Ivan Ukhov and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard. The two titans are 8-8 against each other in their careers; this will be their second meeting of 2015 after Barshim defeated Bondarenko in Shanghai on May 17.
In the mid-d/distance races, the highlight in Oslo is almost always the loaded Dream Mile — Asbel Kiprop vs. Ayanleh Souleiman vs. Ronald Kwemoi vs. Silas Kiplagat (Bernard Lagat is also entered)– and the women’s 5,000, where Genzebe Dibaba is entered. Seven years ago at this meet, her elder sister Tirunesh set the world record of 14:11.15. Could Genzebe take it down on the same track? There’s also a top-notch steeple showdown between 2014 world #1 Jairus Birech and four-time global champ Ezekiel Kemboi and a women’s 1500 featuring Abeba Aregawi, Faith Kipyegon and Dawit Seyaum, plus Americans Gabe Grunewald, Heather Kampf and Morgan Uceny.
Details and event previews below.
What: 2015 ExxonMobil Bislett Games
Where: Bislett Stadion, Oslo, Norway
When: Thursday, June 11. Field events begin at 11:50 a.m. ET; TV broadcast begins at 2:00 p.m. ET.
How to watch: Live from 2 p.m. to 4:00 pm ET. In the US, it’s on beIN Sports – detailed TV/streaming information (including how to get beIN Sports on your computer) here. In Europe, you can watch the meet live on Eurosport.
Women’s 1500 (2:35 p.m. ET): Aregawi vs. Seyaum and a 1500 season debut for Faith Kipyegon
|Laura Muir||Great Britain||4:00.07||4:00.61|
|Laura Weightman||Great Britain||4:00.17||4:06.42|
With no Jenny Simpson or Sifan Hassan, this field is lacking a little firepower, but there are still some strong entrants, led by defending world indoor/outdoor champion Abeba Aregawi. After a rough DL opener in Doha (7th, 4:04.42), Aregawi bounced back to finish second in Birmingham on Sunday (4:01.97) and should challenge for the win here. Her top competition figures to be 18-year-old Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum, who won in Doha in 4:00.96 and was third last week in Rome in 3:59.76. One other woman who could contend is Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon. The Kenyan national record holder at 3:56.98, Kipyegon is still only 21 years old and made an impressive 5,000 debut in her 2015 opener at the Pre Classic, running 14:31.95 to finish second behind Dibaba. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see her dip under 4:00 in her first 1500 of the year — she ran 3:58.01 in her 2014 opener at Pre.
The three Americans in this field all raced in Europe last week, but only one found success as Heather Kampf ran 4:04.50 in Rome. Though that performance was only good for 13th in a 15-person field, Kampf will be pleased with it as she PR’d by 1.66 seconds and knocked out the IAAF standard in the process. Gabe Grunewald and Morgan Uceny both raced in Birmingham on Sunday but finished 7th and 8th, respectively, running 4:08.61 (Grunewald) and 4:09.31 (Uceny) in windy conditions. Both still need the IAAF standard of 4:06.50, so that should be the primary goal for both of them in Oslo.
Men’s 3,000 Steeplechase (2:48 p.m. ET): Can Jairus Birech and/or Ezekiel Kemboi record the year’s first sub-8:00?
|Bjornar Ustad Kristensen||Norway||8:16.75|
If the first race between Jairus Birech and Ezekiel Kemboi in 2015 was any indication, we could be in for a great year in the men’s steeple. Last year, this was one of the least interesting events on the circuit as Birech crushed the competition, winning six of seven Diamond League steeples, usually by massive margins. But now that Kemboi is back close to full fitness, Birech has a deserving rival, which showed at the Pre Classic where the two Kenyans battled for all 3,000 meters as Kemboi edged Birech by just .12 of a second in 8:01.71. They’ll meet again in Oslo on Thursday and given their talent and Birech’s predilection for pushing the pace, we could see the world’s first sub-8:00 of 2015.
2012 Olympian Donn Cabral is the lone American in the field and will be looking for a PR after just missing out on one in his first steeple of 2015 at Pre (8:19.24).
Women’s 5,000 (3:10 p.m. ET): Dibaba world record attempt, take two
|Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal||Norway||15:24.86|
|Susan Kuijken||The Netherlands||15:04.36||15:29.60|
|Stephanie Twell||Great Britain||14:54.08||15:13.82|
Two weeks ago, Genzebe Dibaba attacked the world record of 14:11.15 at the Prefontaine Classic but couldn’t quite manage it, coming through 3200 in 9:07 (9:04.7 is WR pace) before slowing over the final mile. Dibaba still set an outdoor pb of 14:19.76 and missed her indoor pb of 14:18.84 by less than a second.
Dibaba will take another crack at the record in Oslo on Thursday. We broke down her chances of getting the record in detail in our Prefontaine preview, but a few things have changed since then so we’ve added four new points below. We present two reasons why Dibaba will break the record — and two reasons why she won’t.
Why Genzebe Dibaba WILL break the world record on Thursday
1) The conditions will be better in Oslo
The Pre Classic women’s 5,000 was held in the middle of the day in warm, sunny conditions — not the kind of weather desirable for a distance record attempt. The women’s 5,000 at the Bislett Games will be held at 9:10 p.m. local time and Weather.com’s forecast for Oslo on Thursday night is 52 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight wind (7 mph). If the wind dies down by then, that alone should be worth a few seconds off her Pre time .
“The weather conditions are supposed to be perfect so I hope to take my sister’s record,” Dibaba told the IAAF. “I’ve spoken to my sister and she told me to use the unique atmosphere in the great stadium.”
2) She’s shown she can run fast outdoors
The concern about Dibaba in recent years has been that she’s run amazingly fast indoors but can’t reach the same level outdoors. Well, given the less-than-ideal conditions, her 14:19 at Pre may have been more impressive than her 14:18 indoors.
Why Genzebe Dibaba WON’T break the world record on Thursday
Dibaba said that she’ll have a rabbit until 2km but after that she’ll be on her own. Though Dibaba has shown the ability to run well from the front — she did so to set her world record indoors — she fell off during the final mile at Pre and couldn’t finish it out. She had a rabbit in that race through 1800 and with the rabbit only going half a lap longer in Oslo, that means she’ll still have to run almost the final two miles alone. Dibaba was able to focus and grind out the first mile alone but couldn’t manage two back-to-back. It would be much easier if she had a rabbit through 3km, but it’s basically impossible to find anyone who could run that pace (8:30) from the front.
Dibaba has only raced three times this year (and not since Pre) so she’s not in danger of burning out, but running a solo 14:19 is tiring and trying to do the same thing — only nine seconds faster — 12 days later is very difficult. Fatigue can also be mental, and it might be tough for her to really get after it again so quickly after falling short at Pre.
Behind Dibaba, the world’s fourth- (Viola Kibiwot, 14:40.32) and fifth-fastest (Senbere Teferi, 14:41.98) women on the year should battle it out for second place.
Men’s ExxonMobil Dream Mile (3:45 p.m. ET): The big three of Souleiman, Kiplagat and Kiprop clash again
|Johan Cronje||South Africa||3:50.70||3:53.02|
|Jakub Holusa||Czech Republic||3:56.39||3:56.39|
The big three of Silas Kiplagat, Asbel Kiprop and Ayanleh Souleiman will be in action here, and Souleiman will enter as the favorite based on his DL wins in Doha (800 in 1:43.78) and at Pre (mile in 3:51.10). Kiprop and Kiplagat were third and fourth in that race, respectively, and Kiprop in particular may have a chance to take down Souleiman as he ran a tactically-poor race at Pre and still only lost by .15 of a second. In that race, Kiprop was 11th at the bell and had to run extra distance on the final turn to try to move up. If he can get into better position at the bell in Oslo, his chances of winning should improve greatly.
With American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown last week, this race got us thinking about what a Triple Crown for running might look like. Since the mile is the closest event in distance to the Triple Crown races (which vary between 1.19 and 1.5 miles), it would be natural to do run track’s Triple Crown in the mile distance. And since the mile is almost always on the schedule of the DL meets in Eugene, Oslo and London (and those races usually attract stellar fields), those three races seem like a natural fit for the Triple Crown. Get a sponsor to hype it up/back it with prize money and you could create truly meaningful regular-season track meets — a rarity these days. Below, a sampling of what recent track Triple Crowns might have looked like:
|2014||Ayanleh Souleiman||Ayanleh Souleiman||Not held|
|2013||Silas Kiplagat||Ayanleh Souleiman||Augustine Choge|
|2012||Asbel Kiprop||Asbel Kiprop||Silas Kiplagat|
|2011||Haron Keitany||Asbel Kiprop||Leo Manzano|
|2010||Asbel Kiprop||Asbel Kiprop||Augustine Choge|
|2009||Asbel Kiprop||Deresse Mekonnen||Bernard Lagat|
|2008||Shadrack Korir||Andy Baddeley||Shadrack Korir|
As in horse racing, winning all three is clearly not an easy thing to do, which would make a Triple Crown extra special when it does happen. Of course, putting so much emphasis on midseason races might be a problem given everyone will still be trying to peak for Worlds/Olympics, but it could still work. Souleiman is one-third of the way there this year. Can he follow American Pharoah and complete a Triple Crown of his own in Oslo and London?
American Bernard Lagat‘s summer of rewriting the masters record book should continue as he’ll try to break the outdoor mile record of 4:01.62, set by Vyacheslav Shavunin of Russia in 2010. Lagat already owns the overall mile record (he ran 3:54.91 indoors), but that mark could be tougher to break considering he only ran 3:41.87 in the 1500 in Birmingham on Sunday (albeit in windy conditions).