Lausanne DL Preview: Centro vs. Kiprop vs. Souleiman in a Loaded 1k, Olympic Silver Medallists Hellen Obiri & Genzebe Dibaba Battle over 3k, Plus a Fast Women’s 800

August 24, 2016

Less than a week after the conclusion of the Rio Olympics, the 2016 Diamond League track and field season will resume on Thursday with a meet in Lausanne. Then on Saturday there is the final regular-season DL meet in Paris that will feature eight Olympic champions before the two DL finales in Zurich (next Thursday, September 1) and Brussels (Friday, September 9).

Below we preview the mid-d and distance action for you in Lausanne. The meet features seven Rio gold medallists plus a WR holder who wansn’t in Rio – Keni Harrison. For info on the non-distance events, check out the links below.

*IAAF Preview

*Lausanne Press Conference Highlights

Below we preview the women’s 3000, women’s 800, men’s 1000 and men’s steeple.

What: 2016 Athletissima

Where: Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland

Article continues below player.

When: Thursday, August 25. The beIN Sports broadcast begins at 2:00 p.m. ET.

How to watch: In the U.S., we assume it’s live on beIN Sports from 2:00 p.m. ET to 4:00 p.m. ET. beIN Sports has the U.S. broadcast rights and has shown every DL meet outside of the Pre Classic live this year, but their website is atrocious and currently lists soccer to be shown at that time so we can’t confirm it 100%. Don’t have beIN Sports? Here is some info on how to sign up for beIN Sports.

Schedule/entries/results * TV/streaming information

Women’s 3000 (2:12 p.m. ET): Who Wins In the Battle of Silver Medallists, Obiri or G. Dibaba? Can Alexa Efraimson Get The US Junior Record?  

Name Country PB SB Comment
Agnes Tirop Kenya 8:39.13 8:48.64 2015 World XC champ
Beyene Degefa Ethiopia 8:41.76 8:41.76 2016 World Junior champ
Mercy Cherono Kenya 8:21.14 8:26.36 4th in Olympic 5k
Dera Dida Ethiopia 8:48.31 8:48.31
Alexa Efraimson USA 9:23.24 6th at Olympic Trials in 1500
Margaret Kipkemboi Kenya 8:46.89 8:46.89
Janet Kisa Kenya 8:28.33 8:28.33
Hellen Obiri Kenya 8:20.68 8:24.27 Olympic silver medallist at 5,000
Senbere Teferi Ethiopia 8:34.32 5th in Olympic 5k
Haftamnesh Tesfaye Ethiopia 8:40.80 8:40.80
Genzebe Dibaba Ethiopia 8:26.21 Olympic silver medallist at 1500, World Indoor champ at 3k
Mary Kuria (rabbit) Kenya Scheduled to go through 1500 in 4:05
Lydia Wafula (rabbit) Kenya Scheduled to go through 1000 in 2:43

The women’s 3000 is interesting on a number of fronts. The first is the battle for the victory. Who has the edge, Rio 5000 silver medalist Hellen Obiri of Kenya or Rio 1500 silver medallist Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia?

3000 is an ideal distance for both women as Obiri used to be a 1500 runner and Dibaba has excelled at both 5000 and 1500 and is the indoor 3000 world record holder at 8:16.60. Obiri’s PB of 8:20.68 isn’t too shabby either.

If both were fully fit, we’d say the edge belongs to Dibaba. However, we know that Obiri, who ran a 14:29 pb in Rio for 5000, beating Almaz Ayana in the process, is in the form of her life. She’s also run 3:59 for 1500 this year.

In analyzing Dibaba, we know the opposite – she’s not in the best form of her life. Last year, Dibaba three times broke 14:20 for 5000 and ran a 3:50 WR in the 1500. This year, she missed a lot of time with injury, has only run 3:59 and hasn’t run a 5000.

Thus while it’s logically very hard to pick against a woman who has run 3:50 for 1500, we are giving the slight edge to Obiri. If the silver medallists falter, the 4th and 5th placers from the 5k at Olympics are also in this race in Mercy Cherono (14:42 in Rio) and Senbere Teferi (14:43 in Rio).

The other thing to follow here is performance of American Alexa Efraimson, who takes a huge jump in class by running here in the first European Diamond League meet of her career. Efraimson, who was 6th at the Olympic Trials in the 1500, hasn’t raced since finishing 5th at World Juniors in the 1500 on July 24.

The mild disappointment she’s experienced so far this year – particularly failing to medal at World Juniors – may be lessened a little bit if she can set the American junior record here. Efraimson is #4 all-time on the US junior ranks at 9:00.16 and the US junior record is 8:57.27

Top 5 US Juniors In Women’s 3000
1. 8:57.27 Ceci St. Geme (Stanford) 07/27/82
2. 8:58.48 Mary Cain (NikeOP) 07/24/14
3. 8:58.88i Elise Cranny (Stanford) 03/14/15
4. 9:00.16i Alexa Efraimson (Washington HS) 01/31/14
5. 9:07.79i Aisling Cuffe (Stanford) 03/03/12

Efraimson will have to break the AR if she wants to be remotely competitive as a women’s 3000 has been run in Doha and Monaco this year and a grand total of one competitor in the two races failed to break 9:00. 15 of the 27 finishers in two races have broken 8:45 and and 20 of the 27 have broken 8:50.

There are two rabbits in this race and race organizers have said they want them to hit 2:43 for 1000 and 4:05 for 1500. While Efraimson has run 4:03.99 in the past, her seasonal best for 1500 is 4:06.

She isn’t the only teen in this race as the winner of the 3000 at World Juniors this year, Beyenu Degefu of Ethiopia, just 17, is also making her DL debut. 2015 World XC champion Agnes Tirop is no longer a teen as she’s 20 but she’s also racing here. Tirop, who ran 14:50 in 2013, hasn’t raced in the Diamond League since winning her World XC title last year in China.

LRC Prediction: Obiri FTW and AR for Efraimson.

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Women’s 800 (2:35 p.m. ET): With No Caster Semenya, Look for Olympic Silver Medallist Francine Niyonsaba to Shine

Athlete             Nation   SB      PB        Comment
Winny Chebet KEN 1:59.88 1:59.30 Out in semis of Rio
Habitam Alemu ETH 1:58.99 1:58.99 World junior leader went out in Rio semis
Nataliya Pryshchepa UKR 1:59.08 1:59.08 21. Out in semis of Rio.
Lynsey Sharp GBR 1:57.69 1:57.69 6th in Rio.
Selina Buchel SUI 1:59.00 1:57.95 Out in semis of Rio
Francine Niyonsaba BDI 1:56.24 1:56.24 Silver medal in Rio
Margaret Wambui KEN 1:56.89 1:56.89 Bronze medal in Rio
Melissa Bishop CAN 1:57.02 1:57.02 4th in Rio
Eunice Sum KEN 1:57.47 1:56.99 Out in semis of Rio
Nelly Jepkosgei KEN 2:01.39 1:59.40 Rabbit (58/1:28)

As you can see above, all of the racers in this field raced the 800 in Rio. In Rio, Francine Niyonsaba was easily the second best behind Caster Semenya and thus she’s the heavy favorite here in this race which features the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th placers from Rio plus 2013 world champ Eunice Sum.

The real battle should be in to see who gets second – Melissa Bishop or Margaret Wambui – as the battle for the bronze was close in Rio.

LRC Prediction: Nothing other a court order or Caster Semenya can stop Niyonsaba this year. She’s thriving with the Oregon Track Club.

Men’s Steeple (3:02 p.m. ET): Americans Donn Cabral, Dan Huling and Andy Bayer Take on (A Couple Of) the World’s Best

Name Country PB SB Comment
Andy Bayer USA 8:17.39 8:17.39 4th at Olympic Trials
Jairus Birech Kenya 7:58.41 8:03.90 Has won last two DL titles
Donn Cabral USA 8:13.37 8:20.72 8th at Olympics
Dan Huling USA 8:13.29 8:18.58 Hampered by torn ligament in toe earlier this year; first race since Trials
Abraham Kibiwott Kenya 8:09.25 8:09.25
Brimin Kipruto Kenya 7:53.64 8:18.79 6th in Rio
Barnabas Kipyego Kenya 8:09.13 8:09.13
Amos Kirui Kenya 8:20.43 8:20.43
John Koech Bahrain 8:09.62 8:09.62 Did not make final in Rio
Paul Koech Kenya 7:54.31 8:08.32 Took advantage of tired guys coming off Worlds to win DL final in ’15
Abel Mutai Kenya 8:01.67 8:16.84
Tesfaye Sima Ethiopia 8:16.14 8:16.14
Clement Kemboi (rabbit) Kenya 8:10.65 8:10.65  Supposed to go through 2k in 5:17
Lawrence Kipsang (rabbit) Kenya 8:17.79 8:17.79  Supposed to go through 1k in 2:38

Last year, the IAAF held a steeple at the Diamond League final in Zurich just 10 days after the steeple final at the World Championships, and the results were pretty terrible. The medallists, Ezekiel Kemboi, Conseslus Kipruto and Brimin Kipruto, went 4-6-7; veteran Paul Koech wound up winning by over five seconds despite running just 8:10.

It looks like the top guys from Rio have learned from that mistake and rather than turning it around eight days later to run in Lausanne, the big guns will hold off until the Diamond League final in Brussels on September 9, where Evan Jager will target sub-8:00 and Conseslus Kipruto will target the world record. But Lausanne also counts in the Diamond League standings, and while Kipruto has already clinched the season title, there’s still $10,000 up for grabs for the winner.

With just three 2016 Olympians (6th placer Brimin Kipruto and 8th placer Donn Cabral are the only two finalists), this field is not particularly strong but with no Conseslus Kipruto, Jager or Kemboi, the race for the win is wide-open. Koech may be the best bet for the win here. The 34-year-old has broken 8:10 in 14 of the past 15 years, most recently in Monaco on July 15, where he gave Kipruto his toughest test of the season, finishing just .21 back in 8:08.32. Two-time defending DL champ Jairus Birech should also be battling for the win. He was second behind Kipruto in the first three DL meets of the season, though he was only fifth in his last DL outing in Birmingham in June, finishing behind three guys who he will race in Lausanne (Koech, Barnabas Kipyego and Brimin Kipruto). Birech also has the fastest SB (8:03.90) of anyone in the field by over five seconds.

As far as the Americans are concerned, Cabral said in Rio that he’s had a “mediocre” season but he’s come close to breaking 8:20 on a few occasions this year and accomplishing that would at least allow him to end his season on a somewhat positive note. The man Cabral beat out for the final spot on Team USA, Andy Bayer, ran 8:17 in his last DL race in Monaco and would like to shave a couple of seconds off that time here. Dan Huling looked great in taking second at Oxy in May in 8:18 but from then until the Trials, his training was hampered by a toe injury, leading to a ninth-place finish in Eugene. If he’s back racing again though, coaches Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert must expect Huling’s capable of a decent effort on Thursday.

Rabbits Lawrence Kipsang and Clement Kemboi are scheduled to take the field through 1k in 2:38 and 2k in 5:17, but if they do that, don’t expect anyone to go with them. 5:17 is 7:55 pace and no one in the field this year has shown themselves to be remotely close to handling that sort of tempo.

LRC Prediction: Since most of these guys didn’t race at the Olympics, picking this race is a bit of a crapshoot. We’ll take Birech here, but he’ll be pushed by (and could easily lose to) Koech. If any of the Americans can crack the top four, that would qualify as a very good race.

Men’s 1000 (3:43 p.m. ET): Can the American record fall as Matthew Centrowitz takes on Asbel Kiprop and Ayanleh Souleiman?

Name Country PB SB Comment
Jan Hochstrasser Switzerland 2:22.18 2:22.18
Gilbert Kwemoi Kenya 18-year-old won World Youth Olympic 1500 in ’14
Michael Rimmer Great Britain 2:17.13 8th in his 800 semi in Rio
Nicholas Kipkoech Kenya 2:17.16 Has run 1:43.37 this year; 4th at Kenyan Trials in 800
Filip Ingebrigtsen Norway Euro 1500 champ went out in 1st round of 1500 in Rio
Silas Kiplagat Kenya Coming off win at London DL on July 22
Marcin Lewandowski Poland 2:15.76 6th in 800 in Rio
Matthew Centrowitz USA 2:20.20 2:20.20 Olympic 1500 champ
Asbel Kiprop Kenya 2:17.38 6th in 1500 in Rio
Ayanleh Souleiman Djibouti 2:15.77 Broke indoor WR (2:14.20) in Feb; 4th in 1500 in Rio
Jonathan Kitilit Kenya 2:15.78 Ran 1:43.48 earlier this year, 6th at Kenyan Trials in 800
Johan Rogestedt Sweden 2:17.67 2:17.67
Andrew Rotich (rabbit) Kenya  Scheduled to go through 400 in 53
Edwin Melly (rabbit) Kenya  Scheduled to go through 800 in 1:47.5

Unlike the men’s steeplers, several of the world’s top 1500 runners will turn it around quickly in the 1000 in Lausanne just five days after the 1500 final in Rio. The loaded field is led by Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz (still sounds a little weird, doesn’t it?) and includes Olympic fourth placer Ayanleh Souleiman and the world’s best miler over the past five years, Asbel Kiprop. Plus there’s Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski (sixth in the Olympic 800) and Kenyans Nicholas Kipkoech and Jonathan Kitilit, both of whom have run 1:43 this year.

The world record of 2:11.96 is probably out of the question (Ngeny was in ridiculous shape that summer, breaking 3:30 five times and running a 3:43 mile) but Souleiman did run the indoor world record of 2:14.20 back in February and should be able to go faster on the gentler turns of the outdoor track.

If that’s the case, Rick Wohlhuter’s American record of 2:13.9 (hand-timed) from Oslo in 1974 could be in jeopardy. Centro’s win in Rio suggested he’s in 3:30 shape (or faster) and his 50.62 final 400 demonstrated excellent speed. Centro only ran 2:20.20 in his 1000 duel with Clayton Murphy last month, but he closed that race extremely well (25.0) and it went out really slowly (57-58 for the first 400). Centro ran 2:17.00 last year indoors and we think he’s in much better shape than he was then. If Centro goes out in 1:46.5 and holds on for a 27.3 final 200, that’s enough to break the record. It’s tough — there’s a reason Wohlhuter’s mark has stood for 42 years — but attainable.

“For me, it’s little shorter than what I’m used to, so I have to approach it like an 800 and get out really fast, and use my strength in the last 200 and hopefully be competing with some of these guys,” Centrowitz told the IAAF on Wednesday.

The race may go out on the slower end, however, as rabbit Edwin Melly is supposed to hit 800 in 1:47.5. So either Melly will have to go out faster or Centro will have to really slam it home — which he showed he could do in Houston (albeit off a slower pace).

The biggest key for Centro — not only in terms of running fast, but also winning the race — is getting off the line well. He was able to get to the lead early in Rio, but no one was battling him for position. It won’t be as easy in Lausanne as there will be 15 men on the start line in what we assume will be a waterfall start (personally we 100% think they should run a 1 turn stagger and have people share a lane). That could necessitate a very fast opening 200 to stay clear of traffic as with that many bodies it will be hard to move up during the race. We’re not that worried about Centrowitz, though, as he always manages to put himself in good position.

That large start could affect Kiprop, however, particularly if tries to employ one of his favorite strategies — making a big late-race move from the back. Making that sort of move will be more difficult as he’ll have to go faster than normal and will have less time to separate from the field. Kiprop has run from the front on several occasions in DL 1500’s this year, however, and with his long limbs, that may be his best bet in this one.

Also worth noting is that this will count toward the Diamond Race standings in the 1500 meters. Kiprop currently leads the Diamond Race with 31 points.

LRC Prediction: Barring Olympic hangovers, we like Centrowitz, Souleiman and Kiprop to go 1-2-3 in some order. We’ll go with Souleiman, who closed well to take fourth in Rio and has a stronger 800/1500 background than the other two men. Centrowitz probably has the fitness to run 2:13 but would need to execute a near-perfect race to do so. We don’t think he gets the AR, but he could join Wohlhuter and David Krummenacker as the only Americans to ever break 2:16.

Also all Centro fans should watch the video below. The Lausanne meet put together a quick behind-the-scenes video with Centrowitz and their father as they prepared for Thursday’s meet. In it, Centro Jr. jokes that even after winning Olympic gold, he still has to carry Centro Sr.’s bags through the airport.

MB: Lausanne 1000m…get ready…

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