May 10, 2018
The 2018 opener Doha is in the books and it’s time to move on to Shanghai, stop #2 in the 2018 Diamond League season, which will be held on Saturday. From an American distance fan’s perspective, the meet is similar in big themes to Doha as Clayton Murphy will run the 800 again (this time joined by fellow American Drew Windle) while another U.S. stud will be chasing a fast time in a longer event (this time it’s Paul Chelimo in the 5,000 instead of Jenny Simpson in the 3,000). That 5,000 is the best distance event of the meet as Chelimo will face world champ Muktar Edris, three-time global medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet, and world/Olympic steeple champ Conseslus Kipruto, who will be running his first serious 5,000 but we also are pumped for the 1500 as it features world indoor champ Samuel Tefera and Timothy Cheruiyot. Commonwealth champ Wycliffe Kinyamal (800), and Beatrice Chepkoech (steeple) are the headliners in the other distance events.
In non-distance action, there’s a hot 400 featuring Steven Gardiner, Fred Kerley, Isaac Makwala, and triple jump star Christian Taylor, another showdown between Keni Harrison and Brianna McNeal in the hurdles, world champ Justin Gatlin in the 100, Sam Kendricks vs. Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault, Luvo Manyonga in the long jump and Maria Lasitskene in the high jump.
Meet details and previews of the top events below.
What: 2018 Shanghai Diamond League
Where: Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai, China
When: Saturday, May 12. DL track events (and the NBCSN broadcast) begin at 7:00 a.m. ET.
How to watch: This meet will air live in the United States on NBC Sports Network from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET on Saturday. In Europe, it’s on Eurosport. For full TV/streaming details, see below.
Men’s 5000 (7:13 a.m. ET): Paul Chelimo goes for sub-13:00
If you’re an American fan debating about whether to get up early and watch Shanghai, the men’s 5k field might convince you. Though World Indoor champ Yomif Kejelcha is absent, the field is still loaded, with world outdoor champ Muktar Edris, world bronze medalist Paul Chelimo, three-time global medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet, and, oh yeah, Olympic/world steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto. With Mo Farah moved up to the marathon, there’s a power vacuum in the 5,000 and it will be fun to see who can step up to fill it. Edris was the man last year as he actually beat Farah to become the world champion, but what made Farah’s reign impressive was his ability to remain World #1 for such a long period, from 2011 to 2016. Can Edris, who is, according to the IAAF, 24 years old (four years younger than Farah was when he won his first world title) maintain his position or will Kejelcha, Chelimo, or someone else usurp him? This will be a good first test for Edris, who has raced only once in 2018 (7:40 for 2nd in an indoor 3k in France in February).
Chelimo, meanwhile, will be looking to accomplish two things he’s never done: win a Diamond League race, and break 13:00. Both are certainly possible in Shanghai. Chelimo looked terrific indoors — he beat Kejelcha over 3k a week before Kejelcha won World Indoors — but was DQ’d in Birmingham and did not get a chance to run in the final. Last week, he tuned up for this race by running 3:40 for 1500 at Payton Jordan, and though he lost to 17-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, he managed to beat some strong 1500 runners in the process.
If Chelimo does win, he’ll have a roughly 50% chance of breaking 13:00 for the first time in his career: of the last 10 Diamond League 5ks, five have been won in sub-13:00. Sub-13:00 would not just represent a nice personal best for Chelimo (right now he’s at 13:03.90); it would end a lengthy drought for Americans. Bernard Lagat was the last American to break 13:00 on September 6, 2013. Since then, all of this has happened:
- Americans won four World Marathon Majors (Boston, Chicago, New York, and Boston again)
- Americans won a total of 15 mid-d/distance medals at the Olympics/Worlds, including Olympic gold in the men’s 1500 and a 1-2 finish in the women’s steeplechase at Worlds
- The marathon world record was broken twice
- Eliud Kipchoge won eight straight marathons
- Edward Cheserek won 17 NCAA titles
With silver and bronze medals, Chelimo is already one of the best American 5,000 runners ever and certainly possesses the ability to run under 13:00. Moreover, he’s not one to shy away from leading, as shown by his dominant performance at USAs last year. Despite that, Chelimo’s 13:08.62 was the fastest time run by an American last year — the slowest nation-leading time since 2008.
But that stat is misleading. The fact that 13:08 was the fastest 5k by an American last year was more due to the fact that Chelimo — easily the best American — ran just two non-championship 5ks. The first came in the middle of the day at Pre, where Chelimo ran 13:10 despite feeling like a shadow of himself. The other was in Zurich, where he ran 13:06 before being DQ’d. With no global championship this year, Chelimo should run much faster and could add his name to this list as soon as Saturday.
The U.S. Sub-13:00 5k Club
One other storyline to watch in this race is Olympic steeple champ Conseslus Kipruto, who will be running the first serious 5k of his career (he ran 13:47 at altitude in Eldoret in April 2016). With a steeple PR of 8:00, look for Kipruto to run in the low 13:00s if the pace is fast enough.
LRC Prediction: We’ll be making our official predictions for the races in the messageboard discussion thread for Shanghai on raceday: MB: Are you ready for some Saturday morning T&F (7-9 am ET) – Official 2018 Shanghai DL Discussion Thread
Men’s 400 (7:35 a.m. ET): Red-hot Steven Gardiner faces Fred Kerley & Isaac Makwala
|Steven Gardiner||The Bahamas||43.87||43.87|
Steven Gardiner blitzed a world-leading 43.87 in Doha last week, which is incredibly fast for this early in the season. In fact, only two other men have ever run faster before the month of June. One was Michael Johnson (of course), who ran 43.75 in April 1997. The other? Fred Kerley, who clocked an NCAA record of 43.70 in May 2017 and will be facing Gardiner in Shanghai in his 400 opener.
As if that were not enough of a draw, Commonwealth champion Isaac Makwala — who was the previous world leader at 44.35 until Gardiner blew it out of the water — will also be in action, as will triple jump star Christian Taylor, who has run 45.48 and 45.44 in his two 400s this year.
Women’s 100 hurdles (7:46 a.m. ET): Harrison-McNeal, Round II
Brianna McNeal (nee Rollins) didn’t beat Keni Harrison in Doha. But the Olympic champion McNeal ran close to Harrison than anyone has in a Diamond League in years as McNeal actually led through seven hurdles before she hit hurdle 8 and lost momentum. If McNeal can stay clean in Shanghai, she has a chance to do something that only one person has ever done: beat Keni Harrison in a Diamond League.
That’s not a typo. Harrison finished second in her first Diamond League in Monaco in 2015, a month after she won the NCAA title for Kentucky. Since then, she’s a perfect 11-for-11 — a staggering level of consistency in an event where your hopes can go up in flames with one bad hurdle. Harrison-McNeal I was great theater; what will the two young stars do for an encore?
Men’s 1500 (7:53 a.m. ET): DL champ Timothy Cheruiyot tries to hold off the next generation
|Thiago Do Rosario Andre||Brazil||3:35.28||3:43.12|
|Filip Sasinek||Czech Republic||3:36.32|
Timothy Cheruiyot was the world’s second-best 1500 runner in 2017, and through the first four months of 2018, he’s held onto that distinction, taking second behind training partner (and World #1) Elijah Manangoi at the Commonwealth Games while leaving a trail of Olympic and World finalists in the dust. As a result, Cheruiyot starts as the favorite in this race, but he’ll have some competition in Shanghai.
His top rival figures to be Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera, who ran 3:33 last summer as a 17-year-old (reportedly) and won World Indoors in March (definitely). Tefera just ran 3:36.1 at 7,700 feet in Addis Ababa to win the Ethiopian champs on April 22. That’s an incredible time at altitude, but it gets even more impressive. Tefera won that race by 2.6 seconds, and the runner-up, Taresa Tolosa, just won the (non-DL) 1500 at the DL opener in Doha last week. Tefera is fit.
Though Tefera is only 18 (officially), it’s not crazy to suggest that he may be on the path to becoming the greatest Ethiopian 1500 runner in history. Unlike their East African neighbors Kenya, whose dominance spans from 800 to the marathon, Ethiopia hasn’t had as much success in the men’s middle distance events of 800 and 1500. Between Worlds and the Olympics, only one Ethiopian man has ever medalled at 1500 meters: Deresse Mekonnen in 2009. Mekonnen, who also added World Indoor titles in 2008 and 2010, is the best Ethiopian 1500 runner ever at this point, but Tefera already has one World Indoor title and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him surpass Mekonnen’s PR of 3:32.18 this summer (only one Ethiopian, Aman Wote, has ever broken 3:30).
Other guys to watch in this race include Justus Soget (3rd in Doha last week), World U20 champ Kumari Taki, and World Indoor bronze medalist Abdelaati Iguider.
Men’s 800 (8:04 a.m. ET): Americans Clayton Murphy & Drew Windle head to the Far East
|Andrew Osagie||Great Britain||1:43.77||1:48.20|
|Rynhardt van Rensburg||South Africa||1:45.33||1:46.15|
There’s some talent in this race, but you can be forgiven if you’re not exactly drooling over this field. There’s only one 2017 World Championship finalist (Brandon McBride) and none of the top five guys from last week’s Diamond League opener in Doha will race here. That’s one of the reasons Seb Coe is looking to overhaul the IAAF calendar — it’s a lot to ask of an athlete to fly to Doha for stop 1 and then on to Shanghai to race again eight days later. It would have made more sense not to run the same event in back-to-back meets, but this is a Diamond League points race, and the guys in it will be happy for the chance to score.
That said, there are still a few fast guys in the field. Wycliffe Kinyamal starts as the presumptive favorite thanks to his win at the Commonwealth Games last month. Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski is now 30 — getting up there for an 800 guy — but he still looks to be in good form after earning World Indoor silver at 1500 in Birmingham. 1:43 guy Brandon McBride will make his season debut as well.
Plus there are the Americans and that’s why we are excited for this race. Drew Windle built on a breakout 2017 by reaching an even higher level indoors, running 1:45.52 and earning silver at Worlds. If you can run 1:45.5 indoors on the tight turns indoors, you should be able to run in the 1:43s outdoors, so look for Windle to challenge that mark this year. He’s racing in this one which, believe it or not, is actually the first official Diamond League race of his life (Windle did run Monaco last year which was high quality but it didn’t count in the DL points total).
Clayton Murphy is the other American in the field, and he’ll be looking to run faster than the 1:47.22 he’s clocked in his first two outdoor races of 2018. The good news is that Murphy is clearly capable of going faster, as both of those races went out slow for the first lap. The bad news is he was an uncompetitive sixth in Doha. Murphy should be able to run in the 1:45-1:46 range with a first lap in the 51-52 range, but the bigger sign of progress is if he is competitive in this race.
Women’s 3000 steeplechase (8:34 a.m. ET): How fast can Beatrice Chepkoech go?
Like the men’s steeple in Doha last week, this is a non-DL event and as a result, it’s mostly a developmental race. We say mostly, however, because our 2017 World #1 Beatrice Chepkoech is in the field, as is 9:03 steepler Norah Jeruto. Jeruto really came on strong at the end of 2017, running 9:05, 9:03, and 9:04 in her final three steeples (before that, she had never broken 9:15). But Chepkoech is the woman to beat here after a stellar start to 2018 that has seen her run a Kenyan indoor record of 4:02.21 for 1500 and earn Commonwealth silver over 1500 (in an outdoor pb of 4:03.09).
This will be Chepkoech’s first steeple of the year, and with world record holder/Olympic champ Ruth Jebet on the verge of a doping suspension (no ban has been officially announced but she has not raced since January), Chepkoech has the ability to become the dominant force in the women’s steeple. That begins in Shanghai.
Men’s 100 (8:53 a.m. ET): World champ Justin Gatlin runs his first DL event of the year as Asia’s top talents square off
|Andre De Grasse||Canada||9.91||10.15|
|Reece Prescod||Great Britain||10.03||10.39|
|CJ Ujah||Great Britain||9.96||10.08|
We were a lot more excited for this event a week ago, before Christian Coleman withdrew with extremely vague “physical issues.” That said, the 100 will always be a marquee event, and the home fans will be hoping for a win in this one from either Bingtian Su, the Chinese record holder and World Indoor silver medalist in the 60, or Zhenye Xie, who set a national record of 20.40 in the 200 (since lowered to 20.20) at this meet last year. This is actually a very big race for Asian sprint fans as it also will serve as a clash between the only two Asian-born sub-10 sprinters in history — Su and Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryu. This will be the first real meeting between Su and Kiryu as they were both entered in the 100 last year in Shanghai but Kiryu was DQ’d.
World champ Justin Gatlin is still kicking around at age 36 and will run his first DL race of the year. He clocked 10.05 in his last race in Grenada on April 21.
Realistically, any of the guys in this field could win it. Isiah Young ran 10.02 to win Drake, CJ Ujah is the DL champ, Ramil Guliyev is the 200 world champ and owns a 9.97 pb, and Andre De Grasse is a stud — albeit one still trying to find his form in 2018.
Talk about the races on our messageboard. MB: Are you ready for some Saturday morning T&F (7-9 am ET) – Official 2018 Shanghai DL Discussion Thread