2017 Meeting de Paris Preview: Big-Time Showdowns in M 3K (Kwemoi vs. Kejelcha) & W 1500 (Kipyegon vs. Hassan) Plus the Greatest Women’s Steeple Race Ever

By LetsRun.com
June 29, 2017

While the last couple Diamond League meets (Oslo, Stockholm) weren’t exactly overflowing with talent, the Diamond League is back with a vengeance as Saturday’s Meeting de Paris is stacked. All four distance races are intriguing, with red-hot Ronald Kwemoi vs. World Indoor champ Yomif Kejelcha in the 3000, world leader Sifan Hassan vs. Olympic champ Faith Kipyegon in the 1500 and a deep men’s 800. Then there’s the women’s steeplechase, which, we can say, without hyperbole, features the greatest women’s steeple field of all time.

In the sprints, Olympic champ Elaine Thompson goes in the 100 while fellow Jamaican Omar McLeod, fresh off a 12.90 PR at the Jamaican Trials, headlines a stacked 110 hurdles that also includes the last two U.S. champs in Aleec Harris and Devon AllenMutaz Essa Barshim looks to keep his undefeated season alive in the high jump while Sam Kendricks takes on Renaud Lavillenie on home soil one week after joining Lavillenie in the six-meter club. Olympic champs Christian Taylor (triple jump) and Thomas Rohler (javelin) are also in action after picking up wins in Ostrava on Wednesday. Finally, Olympic decathlon silver medalist Kevin Mayer of France will compete in a triathlon — javelin, 110 hurdles and long jump — against four other athletes over the course of two hours.

We give you the meet details and preview the four mid-d/distance events below.

What: 2017 Meeting de Paris

Where: Stade Charléty, Paris, France

When: Saturday, July 1. DL track events (and the international TV broadcast) begin at 2:00 p.m. ET.

How to watch: This meet will air live in the United States on NBC Sports Network from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. In Europe, it’s on Eurosport. For full TV/streaming details, see below.

Article continues below player.

Schedule/entries/results * TV/streaming information *2016 LRC coverage

Televised Events – ALL TIMES U.S. EASTERN
2:03 p.m. ET 400m Women Entries
2:10 Long Jump Men Triathlon Entries
2:14 3000m Men Entries
2:29 100m Women Entries
2:35 Javelin Throw Men Entries
2:38 Triple Jump Men Entries
2:40 800m Men Entries
2:50 100m Men Entries
3:00 3000m Steeplechase Women Entries
3:25 110m Hurdles Men Entries
3:40 1500m Women Entries
3:52 200m Men Entries

Men’s 3000 (2:14 p.m. ET): Big talents Ronald Kwemoi and Yomif Kejelcha square off

Name Country PB SB
Yenew Alamirew Ethiopia 7:27.26
Bethwell Birgen Kenya 7:32.48
Collins Cheboi Kenya 7:44.24 7:44.24
Joshua Cheptegei Uganda
Yemaneberhan Crippa Italy
Muktar Edris Ethiopia 7:33.28 7:40.97
Hayle Ibrahimov Azerbaijan 7:34.57 7:49.75
Abdelaati Iguider Morocco 7:30.09
Yomif Kejelcha Ethiopia 7:28.19 7:32.27
Cornelius Kiplangat Kenya
Ronald Kwemoi Kenya 7:28.73 7:28.73
Adel Mechaal Spain 7:39.51 7:55.73
Jonathan Ndiku Kenya 7:39.63
Albert Rop Bahrain 7:32.02 7:38.30
Cyrus Rutto Kenya 7:37.57
Patrick Tiernan Australia 7:41.62 7:41.62
Ben True USA 7:36.59 7:47.00
Kwemoi has been sensational in 2017 Kwemoi has been sensational in 2017

In the last six years, only two men have broken 7:30 for 3,000 meters outdoors, and both of them will be in this race. The most recent to do it was Kenyan stud Ronald Kwemoi, who ran 7:28.73 to stomp the field in the Diamond League opener in Doha on May 5, winning by almost three seconds. Kwemoi has stayed undefeated since then, running 3:49.04 to win the Bowerman Mile, winning a low-key 5,000 in Italy (13:26) and, last week, clocking a ridiculous 3:30.89 to win the Kenyan Trials, a time worth well under 3:30 at sea level. An ace miler with terrific endurance (in March, Kwemoi was working out with Geoffrey Kirui a month before the latter won the Boston Marathon), 3000 meters may be Kwemoi’s ideal distance (although we are still upset he won’t be racing Farah in the 5000 in London at the World Champs).

The only other man to break 7:30 outdoors since the start of 2012 is Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha, who did it at this meet last year. Though Kejelcha doesn’t have Kwemoi’s chops as a miler (though his 1500 pb is a very respectable 3:32), he’s terrific over 3000 as he’s also the reigning World Indoor champ. Though he hasn’t won any of his three races this year, his times have been fast and he’s been near the front in all of them, clocking 3:32, 7:32 and 13:01 (the latter coming at the Pre Classic, where Kejelcha beat everyone except Mo Farah in a loaded field).

Chances are, either Kwemoi or Kejelcha wins it, but Joshua Cheptegei (4th Pre Classic), Albert Rop (5th Pre Classic) and Cyrus Rutto (who just won the Kenyan Trials 5,000) have all been in good form this year. American Ben True will also head overseas after narrowly missing out on a spot on Team USA in the 5k.

The temperature forecast looks great for racing (67 degrees Fahrenheit and cloudy), so if the wind can drop a bit (it’s projected to be around 10 mph as of now), we could see something very fast if the top guys are willing to push each other.

LRC prediction: As good as Kejelcha is, Kwemoi has been on fire in 2017 and the last time he ran a 3k, he torched a strong field in Doha. He wins again in Paris, and keep an eye on the clock.

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Men’s 800 (2:40 p.m. ET): How will Nijel Amos fare against several of Kenya’s best?

Name Country PB SB
Nijel Amos Botswana 1:41.73 1:45.74
Kipyegon Bett Kenya 1:43.76 1:44.04
Robert Biwott Kenya 1:43.56 1:45.15
Pierre-Ambroise Bosse France 1:42.53 1:46.47
Samir Dahmani France 1:44.07 1:45.88
Alfred Kipketer Kenya 1:42.87 1:45.40
Thijmen Kupers The Netherlands 1:44.99 1:44.99
Ferguson Rotich Kenya 1:42.84 1:44.7h
Willy Tarbei Kenya 1:44.51 1:44.86
Amel Tuka Bosnia & Herzegovina 1:42.51 1:45.34

This isn’t the best 800 of the year, but it’s still full of intrigue. Half of the field is Kenyan, and though neither Olympic champ David Rudisha nor UTEP phenom Emmanuel Korir is entered, the race is still flush with talent. Kipyegon Bett was the world U20 champ last year, ran 1:44.04 to place second at the Kenyan Trials and has already won a Diamond League this year. Ferguson Rotich and Alfred Kipketer were both Olympic finalists last year, while 19-year-old Willy Tarbei was the silver medalist behind Bett at the World U20s last year and is coming off a win in Nancy on Wednesday.

The home favorite will be last year’s Olympic fourth-placer Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, though Bosse missed about a month of training recently before running 1:46.47 in his season opener on Wednesday. We hope he shows up dressed the same way as 2014, when he ran 1:44.23 while donning the full French national soccer kit:


We’ll also be watching carefully to see how Botswana’s Nijel Amos does. Amos ran 1:41.73 (t-#3 all-time) to take Olympic silver as an 18-year-old in 2012, and though he was the world’s best 800 runner in 2014 and parts of 2015, he has yet to make a major championship final since London 2012. In 2013, he was hurt and missed Worlds. In 2015, he went out in the semis and last year he went out in the first round, where he finished just 7th in his heat.

However, when we spoke to him in Rio last year, Amos said that he had a calf injury last year and that he’s not close to done.

“Definitely I’m still confident about the future,” Amos said. “I’m still young, I’m still on this game. If God has meant for me to win, one day, a championship, a title, I will definitely get it.”

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Amos made the decision this year to join the Oregon Track Club, following in the footsteps of fellow stud Mo Aman, who did the same thing in 2015, to mixed results (Aman has since left the group). So far, Amos has raced three times in 2017: a 1:47.72 win in Botswana on April 29, a 1:48.49 in Rome on June 8 (marred by a fall at the bell) and a 1:45.74 win in Slovakia on June 17. The latter result is encouraging as Amos won that race by almost a second and beat some fairly accomplished runners — Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Amel Tuka, Burundi’s Antoine Gakeme and Aman, all of whom have medalled at World Indoors or Outdoors in the past three years.

This will be Amos’ first real test (we’re not counting Rome because of the fall) and it will be interesting to see how he fares. Can Amos return to his place as one of the top 800 runners in the world?

LRC prediction: Bett has the fastest time on the season, was second at the Kenyan Trials and is the only guy in the field to have won a DL event this year. He’s our pick FTW.

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Women’s steeple (3:00 p.m. ET): The greatest women’s steeple field ever (on paper)

Name Country PB SB
Sofia Assefa Ethiopia 9:07.06 9:07.06
Beatrice Chepkoech Kenya 9:00.70 9:00.70
Celliphine Chespol Kenya 8:58.78 8:58.78
Ophelie Claude-Boxberger France 9:34.96 9:48.09
Emma Coburn USA 9:07.63 9:07.96
Maeva Danois France 9:40.19 9:47.50
Etenesh Diro Neda Ethiopia 9:14.07
Ann Gathoni Kenya 9:41.40 9:55.2h
Luiza Gega Albania 9:26.05 9:26.05
Habiba Ghribi Tunisia 9:05.36 9:27.97
Ruth Jebet Bahrain 8:52.78 9:01.99
Norah Jeruto Kenya 9:15.35 9:15.35
Purity Kirui Kenya 9:17.74 9:20.07
Hyvin Kiyeng Kenya 9:00.01 9:00.12
Maria Jose Perez Moreno Spain 9:45.03 9:45.03
Aisha Praught Jamaica 9:19.29 9:19.29
Fabienne Schlumpf Switzerland 9:21.65 9:21.65
Caroline Tuigong Kenya 9:28.81
Chespol won one of the deepest steeples ever at Pre in May Chespol won one of the deepest steeples ever at Pre in May

This year has been the most amazing in the history of the women’s steeplechase. Before 2017, only three women had ever broken 9:02 in the steeple. This year, four women did it in the month of May alone. The emergence of 19-year-old Celliphine Chespol, the improvement of Beatrice Chepkoech and the continued brilliance of world champ Hyvin Kiyeng and Ruth Jebet has made the women’s steeple a must-watch event. Jebet, who last year won Olympic gold and set the world record at age 19, looked set to dominate the event for years, but this year, her 9:01.99 sb only puts her fourth on the world list.

All four of those women will be in Paris, site of Jebet’s 2016 world record, as will 2012 Olympic champ Habiba Ghribi (9:05.36 pb) and Sofia Assefa (9:07.06 pb), giving this race six of the eight fastest women of all-time. There are few other events where six of the top eight on the all-time list are even competing right now, let alone in the same competition (the six fastest 100-meter men of all-time are all currently active, but 100-meter runners dodge each other like Vince Vaughn dodges balls). And that doesn’t include Olympic bronze medalist Emma Coburn (9:07.63 pb, #11 all-time), who so far in 2017 has almost broken her American record and won her sixth U.S. title. Coburn is in this race as well.

With such a loaded field, we expect it will take a fast time, likely sub-9:00 to win this race. Coburn, Chespol and Chepkoech may be hurt by having to compete at their national championships last week, but Coburn made the exact same trip in 2014 (Sacramento to Paris, with a six-day break between races) and PR’d in Paris. If they’re all 100%, this race is going to be scary good.

Given that all the big names are here, the winner of this race will immediately become the favorite for gold in London, though perhaps only for the next few weeks (there is one more DL steeple before Worlds, in Rabat on July 16). So it will be a good opportunity to see where things stand and, from an American perspective, whether Coburn has closed the gap in the month since the Pre Classic on May 26, when she almost broke her AR but finished a distant fourth.

LRC prediction: Chespol won at Pre and the Kenyan Trials and has shown the potential to run even faster than her 8:58.78 world leader as she had to stop at Pre to put her shoe back on. We like her to extend her win streak in Paris, but don’t forget about Jebet. After all, she is the world record holder. We also fully expect Emma Coburn to break her own American record.

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Women’s 1500 (3:40 p.m. ET): Kipyegon vs. Hassan in a clash of the titans

Name Country PB SB
Malika Akkaoui Morocco 4:04.49 4:05.83
Rababe Arafi Morocco 4:01.75 4:01.75
Meraf Bahta Sweden 4:00.59 4:00.59
Claudia Bobocea Romania 4:06.33 4:06.33
Winny Chebet Kenya 3:59.16 3:59.16
Angelika Cichocka Poland 4:01.84 4:01.84
Axumawit Embaye Ethiopia 4:02.35
Linden Hall Australia 4:01.78 4:04.37
Sifan Hassan The Netherlands 3:56.05 3:56.14
Nelly Jepkosgei Kenya 4:02.75 4:02.75
Faith Kipyegon Kenya 3:56.41 3:59.22
Judith Kiyeng Kenya 4:04.4h 4:04.4h
Maureen Koster The Netherlands 3:59.79 4:03.77
Halimah Nakayi Uganda 4:31.34
Besu Sado Ethiopia 3:59.47 4:00.98
Gudaf Tsegay Ethiopia 4:00.18 4:00.96

So far in 2017, two women have been head and shoulders above the rest of the world in this event: Olympic champ Faith Kipyegon of Kenya and World Indoor champ Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands. On Saturday, they’ll race each other for the first time, and it should be tremendous.

Hassan enters as the world leader at 3:56.14; in fact, she’s got the two fastest times in the world this year by some margin as she’s also run 3:56.22 and no one else has broken 3:59. But Kipyegon has run 3:59 in two of her three 1500s this year (the other was a 4:05 at altitude to win the Kenyan Trials) and she hasn’t looked close to vulnerable as she’s won by 1.30, 0.79 and 1.03 seconds despite facing solid fields in each races, including Laura MuirHellen Obiri and Jenny Simpson at the Pre Classic. We have yet to see either woman seriously challenged this year.

While we can’t wait to see who wins, we’re also interested in how they win. For years, Hassan has liked to start slowly near the back of the pack before making a mid-race surge to the front. So it was a surprise in Rome on June 8 when she went to the front within the first 100 meters and essentially led the thing wire-to-wire, pulling away on the final lap. Did Hassan employ that strategy because she wanted to run fast and knew that the event’s other big dogs, such as Muir and Kipyegon, were absent? Or will this become a regular strategy in her first year under the tutelage of Alberto Salazar? Kipyegon, meanwhile, has shown in her two Diamond League wins this year that she’s comfortable dictating the race from the front (Shanghai) or leaving it later and relying on her kick (Eugene).

With the form both women are in, this should be a fast race if they decide to get after it — neither has ever broken 3:56, but that could change on Saturday. But even if they don’t chase a fast time, this should be a terrific race. It’s always fun to see the best in the world square off, doubly so when they’re both undefeated. The winner of this race doesn’t necessarily become the favorite for Worlds in everyone’s eyes (world record holder Genzebe Dibaba has not run a 1500 this year outdoors but did run 3:58 indoors in February) but they will in our mind. Assuming Kipyegon or Hassan takes it, they certainly can certainly lay claim to the title of #1 in the world right now.

Behind the big two, 26-year-old Kenyan Winny Chebet, who was second at the Kenyan Trials behind Kipyegon last week, has flourished after moving up to the 1500 this year, knocking three and a half seconds off her PR to run 3:59.16 in Rome, but she’s been convincingly beaten by both Hassan and Kipyegon this season and is unlikely to challenge them in Paris.

LRC prediction: This is a really tough call. While we know Hassan has been crushing people and two 3:56s are more impressive than two 3:59s, we feel it’s blasphemy to pick against an undefeated Olympic champion. Kipyegon FTW.

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For a preview of the fantastic field events in Paris, check out the IAAF’s Preview.

More: Talk about the meet in our fan forum / messageboard. MB: The 2017 Paris DL Meet Is Going To Be Sensational – Official Discussion Thread

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