June 16, 2017
Did you enjoy the Bislett Games on Thursday? If so, we’ve got great news for you as Sunday’s BAUHAUS-galan meet in Stockholm, the sixth Diamond League event of the year, is essentially a re-run of the Bislett Games: nine of the 13 Diamond League events in Stockholm were also contested in Oslo on Thursday.
But Stockholm also has a few things that Oslo did not. First, there’s South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, perhaps the hottest athlete in the world right now, threatening to tear up the long jump record books. High jumper Mariya Lasitskene has been similarly dominant and will go in the women’s high jump, while Asbel Kiprop returns in the 1500 and will look to make amends for his last-place finish at the Pre Classic. Plus young stars Karsten Warholm (400 hurdles) and Andre De Grasse (100) will look to back up their wins in Oslo and complete Scandinavian sweeps.
We give you the meet details and preview the four mid-d/distance events below.
What: 2017 BAUHAUS-galan
Where: Olympic Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden
When: Sunday, June 18. DL track events (and the international TV broadcast) begin at 10:00 a.m. ET.
How to watch: This meet will air live in the United States on NBC Sports Network from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday. In Europe, it’s on Eurosport. For full TV/streaming details, see below.
Televised Events – ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN
10:03 a.m. ET Men 400m Hurdles Entries
10:07 Women High Jump Entries
10:14 Women 3000m Nat Entries
10:33 Men 400m Entries
10:50 Men Long Jump Entries
10:52 Men 3000m Steeplechase Entries
11:08 Women 200m Entries
11:18 Men 110m Hurdles Entries
11:28 Men 1500m Entries
11:40 Men 100m Entries
11:53 Women 800m Entries
A plea to the Diamond League
There are a lot of things we like about the Diamond League. It functions as the major league of track and field, and the meets fit into compact, viewer-friendly two-hour windows. But we don’t understand why the IAAF would hold a Diamond League event in Oslo on Thursday and then hold another one three days later in Stockholm with a near-identical set of events (nine of the 13 events are the same in Oslo and Stockholm). This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, either. Logistically, perhaps it’s easier for athletes making the trip from a long way away to Oslo to stay an extra few days and compete in Stockholm. But it’s not exciting for the viewers. Yes, the events aren’t exactly the same — Asbel Kiprop wasn’t in Oslo but he will race in Stockholm — but the IAAF has 32 Diamond League disciplines to choose from. Why not mix it up for the two meets? Or, instead of holding Stockholm three days after Oslo, push it back to later in the season?
Update: We’ve found an article that explains why the meets are so close together and has so many of the athletes the reason makes pretty good sense. After ExxonMobil pulled out as the title sponsor of the Oslo Diamond League, they needed to cut costs from $2.4 million to $1.9 million. So moving the meets close together really helped them reduce travel costs as now athletes only need to take a train or bus.
Men’s 800 (9:32 a.m. ET): Adam Kszczot leads a mostly European field
|Thijmen Kupers||The Netherlands||1:44.99||1:44.99|
|Bram Som||The Netherlands||1:43.45|
|Rynhardt van Rensburg||South Africa||1:45.33||1:46.56|
We won’t spend too much time discussing this one considering it’s a non-Diamond League event and will be contested before the TV window, but nevertheless, this is a pretty solid field. Adam Kszczot is coming off a win in Rome last week, while Dutchman Thijmen Kupers cracked 1:45 for the first time in winning in Hengelo on Sunday. For most of the other men, this race should offer a good chance to chase the World Championship standard of 1:45.90; just don’t expect Kszczot, the best guy in the field but an athlete known for his kick, to be the one leading them toward it.
Women’s 3000 (10:14 a.m. ET): Sweden’s Meraf Bahta looks to win for the home crowd
|Camille Buscomb||New Zealand||9:05.24|
This is another non-Diamond League event, and while the field isn’t as strong comparatively as the men’s 800, this one will at least be shown on TV. Sweden’s own Meraf Bahta is the home favorite, and she’s also the favorite to win the race as she was sixth in Rio last year in the 1500 and won the 10,000 at Payton Jordan last month. The only two women who have run faster than her over this distance — Ethiopians Azemra Gebru and Haftamnesh Tesfaye — haven’t been in great form this year, making the race Bahta’s for the taking.
Men’s long jump (10:50 a.m. ET): Luvo Manyonga could leap into the record books
|Name||Country||PB (meters)||SB (meters)|
|Radek Juska||Czech Republic||8.29||8.29|
|Luvo Manyonga||South Africa||8.65||8.65|
|Godfrey Mokoena||South Africa||8.50||8.19|
|Rushwal Samaai||South Africa||8.49||8.49|
There are eight men entered in this competition, but we’re focused on one: South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, who is putting together a season for the ages in 2017. Here is what he has done so far (per All-Athletics):
|08.03.2017||Bloemfontein Speed Series||RSA||F||F||1.||8.46||+0.2||1238|
|17.03.2017||Pretoria AGN Ch.||RSA||F||F||1.||8.62||+1.2||1273|
|22.04.2017||Potchefstroom South African Ch.||RSA||B||F||1.||8.65||+1.3||1280||AR|
|13.05.2017||Shanghai IAAF Diamond League||CHN||GL||F||1.||8.61||+0.7||1271|
|11.06.2017||Hengelo FBK Games||NED||B||F||1.||8.62||+0.8||1273|
For those unfamiliar with the long jump, 8.60 meters (28-2.5) is FAR. How far? Here’s the complete list of 8.60-meter jumps this decade:
8.65 Luvo Manyonga, South African Champs 4/22/17
8.62 Luvo Manyonga, AGN Champs 3/17/17
8.62 Luvo Manyonga, FBK Games 6/11/17
8.61 Luvo Manyonga, Shanghai 5/13/17
That’s right. Until Manyonga, nobody had jumped 8.60 meters since Dwight Phillips in July 2009. Manyonga, who overcame a crystal meth addiction to earn Olympic silver in Rio last year, has done it in four straight competitions.
Per ace statistician Jon Mulkeen, Cuba’s Ivan Pedroso is the only other man to have jumped a wind-legal 8.60 in three successive competitions, as he went 8.70, 8.60 and 8.66 in the summer of 1995. Manyonga could make history on Sunday by becoming the first man to do it in five straight. In fact, depending on whom you side with, Manyonga may have already made history in Hengelo. In the competition before his streak began in 1995, Pedrosa leapt what would have been a world record 8.96 meters with a recorded wind of 1.2 m/s in Sestriere, Italy, but Italian officials did not recommend that the mark be ratified as someone stood in front of the wind gauge during all of Pedroso’s attempts (only four of the 60 jumps taken that day were recorded as wind-legal; three happened to be by Pedroso).
Another 8.60 jump from Manyonga on Sunday would also tie Pedroso for the second-most in a single year (5), behind only Carl Lewis, who had seven in 1987 (including four in the same series at Worlds in Rome!).
Manyonga still has a lot of work to do for his 2017 campaign to be considered the best ever — Pedroso jumped at least 8.50 meters, wind-legal, in 13 separate competitions in 1995 — but if he continues at this rate, he’ll put himself in the conversation.
As good and consistent Manyonga has been this year, he still is .30m off of Mike Powell’s world record, that’s almost exactly one foot short.
Men’s 3000 steeplechase (10:52 a.m. ET): Can 21-year-old Soufiane El Bakkali earn his first career DL win?
|Soufiane El Bakkali||Morocco||8:05.17||8:05.17|
Just as Thursday’s women’s steeple in Oslo was lacking in star power, next week’s Kenyan and U.S. World Championship trials have sapped this men’s steeple of many of its best athletes. There are no Americans and no first-rate Kenyans, making Morocco’s 21-year-old Soufiane El Bakkali the man to beat. El Bakkali, as evidenced by his 8:05 in Rome where he challenged Olympic champ Conseslus Kipruto over the last barrier, is no joke. And with no one else in the field under 8:10 on the year, we expect him to win this one fairly comfortably.
His closest competition figures to be two Africans, Chala Beyo of Ethiopia and Yemane Haileselassie of Eritrea. Both men set PRs last week, though they’ve still got a way to go before they’re in El Bakkali’s league — Beyo ran 8:13 in Hengelo but that was only good enough for third at the Ethiopian World Championship trials; Haileselassie, meanwhile, ran 8:11 in Rome but was still well behind El Bakkali in that race.
Interesting note: if El Bakkali wins, it would mark just the third victory by a non-Kenyan in the men’s steeplechase in the eight-year history of the Diamond League. The others? France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad won in Paris in 2011, while Morocco’s Hicham Sigueni won in Stockholm in 2015. The latter race, just like the 2017 edition, was held just before the Kenyan trials and thus saw a severely watered-down field.
Men’s 1500 (11:28 a.m. ET): Asbel Kiprop will be challenged in his return to the Diamond League
|Jakub Holusa||Czech Republic||3:33.36||3:34.96|
Usually when Asbel Kiprop starts a race, he’s the favorite, but that’s not the case in Stockholm. By his own admission, Kiprop said that he was at only “40-45%” when we spoke to him at the Prefontaine Classic, and a case of the flu in Eugene caused him to run conservatively and finish dead last in the Bowerman Mile 3:58.
Kiprop was in action again last weekend at the Kenyan Championships (different than the Kenyan Trials), where he ran a 1500 heat on three straight days, and in the end he only managed to finish third there in 3:42.6, well back of winner Timothy Cheruiyot (3:41.0) and youngster Justus Kiplagat (3:41.5). With a bye into Worlds, Kiprop doesn’t need to worry about peaking until August, and he said all the way back in March at World XC that he expected a slow start this year to facilitate that peak. But instead of training or doing a workout, this will be Kiprop’s fourth 1500 in 10 days.
It’s certainly an interesting approach. Yes, Kiprop has run fast early in years past, but he’s also won four global golds in that span. When he’s underperformed at major championships, it’s generally because he’s been hurt (2012), or made a tactical mistake (2009 and, to a slightly lesser degree, 2016). Perhaps he feels he can be in even better shape by backing off early in the season. We’ll have to wait until London to see if Kiprop’s new approach works.
Right now, Kiprop is still building fitness and Stockholm should offer a better assessment of where he’s at than Pre. He doesn’t need to win here, but with Worlds seven weeks away, he does need to start showing some progress; a time under 3:35 would be a step in the right direction.
Cheruiyot, who beat Kiprop on Saturday in Nairobi, may be the man to beat here as he was 5th in Doha and 3rd in Eugene but no one who beat him in either race is entered here. Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski, who was third in Oslo on Thursday in a PR of 3:34.60, is also in good form, as is Bahrain’s Alsadik Mikhou. The 26-year-old Mikhou, formerly of Morocco, has won all five of his races in 2017, most recently clocking a PR/world leader of 3:31.34 to win in Hengelo by over a second on Sunday, taking down Ethiopian stud Yomif Kejelcha in the process.hough
Though Mikhou has run 3:33 or faster in each of the past five years, his racing schedule is, shall we say, suspicious. Anyone consistently running in the 3:33’s should be a fixture on the Diamond League circuit, yet Mikhou has run two career DL races, dropping out in one of them. He’s also never competed at a World Championships, an Olympics, or even a continental championship. Mikhou hasn’t been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, but if you wanted to avoid major competitions with drug testing, you’d run a schedule like the one Mikhou has over the past few years. Of course, what would be the point of being on drugs if you aren’t running the global champs or at least making money on the circuit.
With that said, Mikhou is entered in Stockholm, where there will be drug testing. And based on his 2017 form, he should battle Cheruiyot for the win.
Women’s 800 (11:53 a.m. ET): Expect Francine Niyonsaba to dominate
|Rose Mary Almanza||Cuba||1:57.70||1:59.98|
|Jenny Meadows||Great Britain||1:57.93|
|Lynsey Sharp||Great Britain||1:57.69||2:00.41|
Caster Semenya is skipping out on this one, as is Margaret Wambui, leaving Francine Niyonsaba as the only member of the big three on the start list in Stockholm. Naturally, that means Niyonsaba should win easily. In Oslo, she finished second in 1:58.18, almost a full second up on third-place Wambui. Last year, Niyonsaba ran two Diamond League races where she did not face Semenya. In the first, in Birmingham, she ran 1:56.92 and won by 1.09 seconds. In the second, in Lausanne, she ran 1:57.71 and won by .70 of a second. Expect a similar outcome on Sunday as Niyonsaba won’t have to worry about Semenya running her down in the home straight.
As for Wambui, the reason why she’s not racing in Stockholm (she was initially entered but scratched on Friday) is that she picked up a foot injury in Oslo after running the final 500 meters with just one shoe (the Daily Nation article we linked to says Wambui lost her shoe with 600 to go, but if you watch the race video, she clearly has her shoe on as they round the far turn for the first time).
Wambui deserves major props for gutting out a 1:59.17 under those circumstances. But it’s also more proof that the CAS hyperandrogenism guidelines need to be reinstated — even though she ran more than half the race with one shoe, Wambui is still better than everyone apart from Semenya and Niyonsaba.
Talk about the meet on our fan forum / messageboard: MB: Official 2017 Stockholm DL Discussion Thread