July 28, 2015
This is it. The final Diamond League meeting before the 2015 IAAF World Championships is upon us, and it will take place on Thursday in Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium. With the Kenyan World Championships trials taking place this weekend, the distance fields aren’t as strong as usual, but there are still plenty of big names looking to get in one final effort before Worlds. Matthew Centrowitz and Ayanleh Souleiman will battle over 1500 meters; Molly Huddle looks to earn her first Diamond League victory in the 3,000 after coming up short in London; Brenda Martinez tries to get on back on track in the 800.
In non-distance action, U.S. champ Marquis Dendy goes for his second win in as many weeks in the long jump, Pan Am champ David Oliver squares off against London winner Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in the 110 hurdles and world champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce takes on Tori Bowie in the women’s 100.
We present the meet details below, followed by previews of the mid-d/distance events.
What: 2015 Bauhaus Athletics
Where: Olympic Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden
When: Thursday, July 30. Field events begin at 10:00 a.m. ET; DL track events (and the beIN Sports broadcast) begin at 2:00 p.m. ET.
How to watch: Live on beIN Sports from 2:00 p.m. ET to 4:00 p.m. ET. In Europe, you can watch the meet live on Eurosport. Details on the TV/streaming information here.
Women’s 3,000 (2:15 p.m. ET)
|Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal||Norway||9:05.83|
|Alia Saeed Mohammed||UAE||8:55.40||8:55.40|
On Saturday, Molly Huddle was denied her first career DL victory as she couldn’t quite run the kick out of world silver medalist Mercy Cherono in the 5,000 meters. Huddle, who led the entire race until the final lap, had to settle for second in 14:57.42 as Cherono took the win in 14:54.81.
But with Cherono and most of her countrywomen absent on Thursday — heck, the United Arab Emirates has more entrants in this race (2) than Kenya does (1) — this could be Huddle’s time to shine, even though the distance is far shorter than the 10,000 she’s been training for at Worlds. Huddle’s PB in this event is 8:42.99, but she has run just three 3,000s since 2009, and none for over two years. Given how well she’s been running over the past two years, she should be able to crack 8:40 in this one if the pace is quick, which could be enough to earn the win.
Of the 14 other women in the field, just two have run faster than Huddle: Poland’s Renata Plis (8:39.18 PB from last year) and Bahrain’s Mimi Belete (8:30.00 PB from last year). Both are solid runners, but neither is in Cherono’s class. Plis is a 1500 runner, and if she is to defeat Huddle, she’ll have to rely on her speed to do it. Her best 1500 this year came a month and a half ago in Oslo (4:04.74), though her most recent effort (4:08.25 for 6th in the non-DL 1500 in London) is very close to Huddle’s 1500 PR (4:08.09). Belete’s 8:30 PB is intimidating on paper, though she had mostly struggled this year (15:45 for 12th in Oslo 5,000; 4:14 for 12th in Lausanne 1500) before running 14:54 to win in Heusden-Zolder on July 18.
Given Huddle’s willingness to lead from the gun, we lean toward picking her for the victory. Again, 3,000 is a bit short for her, but Huddle’s strength has allowed her to take down faster women in the past — remember how she came back to beat Shannon Rowbury on the final lap at USAs last year? Rowbury, now the American record holder in the 1500 at 3:56 (she ran 3:59 last year), had better 1500 speed than either Plis or Belete and Huddle still beat her in a relatively honest race (15:01 winning time).
If Huddle does push it, look for Americans Marielle Hall and Katie Mackey to follow her to PRs. Hall’s best is 8:54.48 from last year, but given that she’s run 15:06 this year for 5,000, she should be able to get under 8:50. Likewise, Katie Mackey‘s 8:59 from two years ago is slow for someone who has run 15:04 and should go down easily.
Women’s 800 (2:55 p.m. ET)
|Rose Mary Almanza||Cuba||1:57.70||1:57.70|
|Lynsey Sharp||Great Britain||1:58.80||1:59.57|
Eunice Sum, who has dominated the Diamond League circuit for the last three years, won’t be competing here. Neither will 2014 world leader Ajee Wilson, who has been missing from action since USAs. Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza, the second-fastest woman in the world this year, will be in Stockholm, but she ran poorly her last time out as she was only fourth at Pan Ams in 2:01.82, over two seconds behind winner Melissa Bishop of Canada.
Based on current form, Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp and the USA’s Molly Ludlow should be favored here. Sharp was third behind Sum and Sifan Hassan (also absent here) in London on Saturday (she ran 1:59.57), and each of her last four races has been faster than the one before it. Ludlow has consistently broken two minutes in Europe this summer, running 1:59.73 or faster in four of her five races, including a 1:58.68 PR in Paris on July 4.
USA runner-up Brenda Martinez under-performed with her 2:02.40 last-place effort in London, but European openers don’t always go smoothly. Last year, Martinez ran just 4:07.40 for 1500 in her first European race after USAs but rebounded with a more typical 1:59.56 800 three days later. Look from an improvement from the 27-year-old in Stockholm.
We mentioned the veterans above, but with no Sum this race is very open and could be stolen by one of the impressive youngsters in this field. France’s 21-year-old Renelle Lamote has won six of her seven races this year. She broke 2:00 for the first time on May 25, running 1:59.39 and is coming off a victory at the European U-23 Champs on July 11. The other woman to watch is another 21-year-old, Simoya Campbell of Jamaica. The runner-up to Natoya Goule at the Jamaican Championships, Campbell took silver at the World University Games and has already PR’d three times this year, going from 2:02.43 all the way down to 1:59.26.
Men’s 3,000 steeplechase (3:05 p.m. ET)
|Mohamed Ismail Ibrahim||Djibouti||8:28.60||8:28.60|
|Hashim Mohamed Salah||Qatar||8:33.25||8:33.25|
No event is hit harder by Kenya’s World Championship trials than the men’s steeplechase. Eight of the world’s nine fastest men this year are Kenyan, and of those eight, only the slowest, Hillary Yego will be in action in Stockholm. Yego actually ran well in his last race in London — he was fourth in a season-best 8:13.10 — so it is curious to see his name on the start list here. Perhaps Yego figured that running the DL race in Stockholm is his best shot at a big payday — it’s $10,000 for a win on the Diamond League circuit — and that was worth surrendering his shot to make the Worlds team.
Yego’s decision, should he actually race in Stockholm and skip the Kenyan trials, does make a degree of sense. Kenya gets to send four to Worlds, but one of those spots is already taken since Ezekiel Kemboi has a bye as the defending champ. Jairus Birech is a lock for another spot, and Conseslus Kipruto is close to a lock for a third. That leaves Yego as one of several men — 2008 Olympic champ Brimin Kipruto, 7:54 man Paul Koech, Commonwealth champ Jonathan Ndiku — battling it out for one spot. That said, it will be a little disappointing if Yego doesn’t run at the Kenyan trials. The ultimate goal of any runner should be to become the best in the world, and you can’t do that without running at Worlds.
Yego is the favorite in Stockholm based on his London performance and his 8:03.57 PB, the best in the field. Countryman Bernard Nganga could challenge him (he ran 8:15 in Beijing in May) but he may also be rabbiting this race as he’s served as the rabbit in Shanghai and London already this year. If Nganga has been tasked with pacing duties here, we’d suggest he stay in and finish the race. The top eight finishers in every DL event get prize money and the watered-down field means that 1) he shouldn’t be required to hit as fast a pace as usual and; 2) he’ll have less competition to beat once he’s done pacing.
American Andy Bayer could also be a factor here (how odd would it be if the first American man to win a DL steeple isn’t Evan Jager?). Bayer was sixth in London on Saturday, but of the five men to beat him, only Yego (who got him by five seconds) will be racing in Stockholm. Chances are Bayer doesn’t win, but only Yego has a faster SB than the American, and it only takes one fall to ruin a race.
Another man making progress this year is Russia’s Ilgizar Safiulin, the 2013 World University Games champion. Here is what Safiulin has done in his four outdoor races in 2015.
The most recent race, in Paris on July 4, was a PR for the 22-year-old, and represented the first sub-8:20 by a Russian in almost four years.
Men’s 800 (3:30 p.m. ET)
|Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla||Qatar||1:43.82||1:43.82|
|Michael Rimmer||Great Britain||1:43.89||1:45.67|
|Thomas Arne Roth||Norway||1:46.15||1:47.25|
This is a non-Diamond League event and as a result the field isn’t particularly strong. Only two men have broken 1:45 this year and the fastest of the bunch is Qatar’s Musaeb Abdulrahman Balla, whose 1:43.82 SB ranks 10th in the world. Still, it’s a chance for Americans Leo Manzano, Mark Wieczorek and Erik Sowinski to get some work.
Of the three, the race is most important to Sowinski. With just over three weeks to Worlds, Sowinski has yet to put it all together in a European race, running 1:46.95 for sixth in Bellinzona on July 21 and 1:45.82 for eighth in London on Saturday. The London performance wasn’t too bad considering the strength of the field, but for Sowinski to make the final at Worlds, he’ll have to produce at least one effort in the 1:44s (or equivalent to a 1:44) as the last man into the final in 2013 ran 1:45.00 (1:44.85 was the final time qualifier).
Sowinski showed at USAs that he can produce that type of performance when it counts as he ran his two best times of the season in the semis (1:45.30) and final (1:44.84). But it certainly wouldn’t hurt his confidence to produce a big race in Europe prior to Worlds, and this is the type of field Sowinski could beat if he runs to his potential.
Manzano’s two European races haven’t been great (3:36.16 for 13th in Monaco; 3:55.67 for 8th in London) and he’ll be looking to turn it around in Stockholm. Manzano already ran 1:45.24 this season in New York, his fastest 800 since 2010, and another performance like that would bode well for his chances in Beijing.
Men’s 1500 (3:40 p.m. ET)
|Fouad El Kaam||Morocco||3:33.71||3:34.53|
|Jakub Holusa||Czech Republic||3:35.28||3:35.98|
|Abdi Waiss Mouhyadin||Djibouti||3:36.09||3:36.09|
|Ilham Tanui Ozbilen||Turkey||3:31.30||3:32.68|
The crown jewel of the distance action in Stockholm is the men’s 1500. Though Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat are absent, the metric mile is so stuffed with talent right now that this should still be a compelling race, headlined by a showdown between U.S. champ Matthew Centrowitz and world indoor champ Ayanleh Souleiman. In London on Saturday, Centrowitz beat Souleiman for just the second time in his career, prevailing by .03 of a second in a slow Emsley Carr Mile.
Beating Souleiman — who has 1:42.97 800 speed — off a slow pace was a great sign for Centrowitz, especially considering he was uncharacteristically boxed in at the start of the home stretch. Centrowitz is in the shape of his life right now, and that’s scary considering he’s already got silver and bronze medals from the World Championships. Obviously beating Kiprop, the two-time defending champion, in Beijing is going to be a monumental task the way the Kenyan is running right now, but if anyone is to do it, Centrowitz and Souleiman are among the best bets. They are the only men to have beaten Kiprop this season at 1500/mile (at the Pre Classic), and both have proven themselves at major championships in the past.
Thursday’s race in Stockholm represents a nice opportunity for Centrowitz. For all his medals, he’s never won a Diamond League race, but he’s come close twice in 2015, placing second at Pre and in London. With Kiprop, Kiplagat and 2012 Olympic champ Taoufik Makhloufi all absent, the onus will be on Souleiman (the only guy in the field to have broken 3:32 other than Centro) to make it fast; if he doesn’t, he risks keeping Centrowitz and his deadly kick in the mix in the final 100. Of course Souleiman has a terrific kick of his own, and given his 12-2 record against Centrowitz, he has to be favored over the American. Still, it’s a close matchup and if Centrowitz wins, he’ll join Leo Manzano (who won in London in 2011) as the only Americans to win a Diamond League 1500/mile. Side note: Kiprop and Kiplagat were also absent for Manzano’s victory.
Centrowitz’ teammate in Beijing, Robby Andrews, will run only his second Diamond League 1500 (he DNF’d his first, in Monaco in 2012). As interesting as it will be to see if Centrowitz can win this race, Andrews’ performance might be more telling when it comes to how they will perform in Beijing. Centrowitz will almost certainly be in the final and has a good shot at a medal; Andrews has a (much smaller) chance at a medal but could also miss the final entirely.
Since the epic USA final, Andrews has raced twice, hitting the IAAF standard with a 3:35.82 victory in Portland on July 2 before running 1:47.80 for third in Dublin on July 24 (winner was 1:47.47). With this race as potentially the last chance for Andrews to face world-class competition prior to Beijing, it will be interesting to see what he can do. We know Andrews is dangerous in a slow race, but even he acknowledged he had to “tweak” some things between USAs and Worlds; he was able to go from ninth to second in the final 150 to make the team at USAs, but it’s a lot harder to go from ninth to second against the best in the world (remember, he still lost to Centrowitz by a second and a half at USAs). Without the Kenyans, this field isn’t as strong as a typical DL field, but it is similar in quality to a World Championships semifinal. If Andrews can finish in the top five here, that’s a good sign for his hopes of making the final in Beijing.
Discuss 2015 Stockholm in our fan forum: Official 2015 Stockholm DL Discussion Thread.