By Jonathan Gault
May 29, 2019
Is it just me, or have we seen more highly-anticipated Diamond League races than usual at this point on the calendar?
May isn’t even over — Monday marked four months to go until Worlds open in Doha — and we’ve already seen what was likely Caster Semenya‘s final Diamond League 800, Sydney McLaughlin‘s Diamond League debut (as well as Aleia Hobbs DL debut which few are talking about even though it resulted in a win in the 100), the first-ever matchup between hurdle aces Abderrahman Samba and Rai Benjamin, and an epic Christian Coleman–Noah Lyles showdown in the 100 meters that gave birth to Twitter beef.
Fortunately, the drama doesn’t stop there. Thursday’s BAUHAUS-galan in Stockholm features several mouthwatering events that you need to watch if you call yourself a track fan. First and foremost: Michael Norman is running his first Diamond League 400. It’s also Norman’s first 400 since he set the Mt. SAC track on fire with his 43.45 on April 20 — tied for the sixth-fastest performance in history.
There’s more: Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria returns for his first Diamond League long jump competition since he almost jumped out of the pit in Stockholm a year ago. World record holder Keni Harrison opens up her DL season in the 100 hurdles. In the men’s 1500, there’s an all-out war between the first families of miling: Henrik, Filip, and Jakob Ingebrigtsen square off against world champ Elijah Manangoi and his younger brother, world U20 champ George (plus indoor 1500 world record holder Samuel Tefera). There’s also a loaded men’s 10,000 featuring Hagos Gebrhiwet, Rhonex Kipruto, Jemal Yimer, and the professional 10,000 debut of Paul Chelimo.
It’s going to be a crazy meet, and we break the most interesting events for you below. We’ve also got a special look at the women’s 800 — the first of the post-Caster Semenya era — in a separate article here: LRC A New Era In The Women’s 800: With Caster Semenya Exiting, Ajee’ Wilson Is Poised To Take Over As World #1.
What: 2019 BAUHAUS-galan
Where: Stockholm Olympic Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden
When: Thursday, May 30. DL track events (and the NBC Sports Network 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 Thursday. You can also stream the meet live online via NBC Sports Gold. For full TV/streaming details, see below.
Men’s long jump (1:35 p.m. ET): JME returns
|Juan Miguel Echevarria||Cuba||8.68|
|Luvo Manyonga||South Africa||8.65||8.35|
|Zarck Visser||South Africa||8.41||8.41|
Juan Miguel Echevarria arrived on the international long jump scene last year like a Category 5 hurricane, leaving mouths agape and a trail of destruction in his wake. Just 19 years old, he won the World Indoors in March and, after being beaten in his Diamond League debut in Rome, unleashed a series of ridiculous performances: a (barely) wind-aided 8.83-meter jump in Stockholm — the longest all-conditions jump in 23 years — followed by a pair of personal bests, 8.66 in Ostrava and 8.68 in Bad Langensalza. That made him the 10th-longest jumper in history, and his 8.68 was the world’s longest legal jump since 2009.
Injuries cut short Echevarria’s 2018 season, but his 2019 outdoor opener was a reminder of the scary talent the young Cuban possesses, as he leaped 8.92 meters in La Habana, just three centimeters shy of Mike Powell‘s 8.95 world record. Echevarria had a healthy (and illegal) tailwind of 3.3 m/s, but 8.92 is still monstrous, even with the wind. Powell’s record has stood for 27 years and counting, and to seriously challenge it, Echevarria will have to hit the right jump on the right day in the right conditions. But he’s so good that the world record has to be a consideration every time he steps on the runway.
There are still concerns about his health, however. Echevarria’s 8.92 in La Habana was his only jump of the day; per the IAAF, he withdrew after experiencing discomfort in his foot and hasn’t competed since. To challenge the WR this season, he needs to be at 100%.
Echevarria almost jumped out of the pit in his last trip to Stockholm. What can he produce for an encore? Make sure you tune into the NBC Sports Gold field events feed to find out, as the long jump starts at 1:35 p.m. ET and the meet isn’t on TV in the US until 2 p.m. In case you didn’t know, if you subscribe to Gold, you can watch the field events from start to finish uninterrupted.
LRC prediction: If he’s healthy, Echevarria wins, but even if he’s not, there’s plenty of talent with world champ Luvo Manyonga, Olympic champ Jeff Henderson, and Shanghai winner Tajay Gayle all in the field.
Men’s 400 (2:03 p.m. ET): The Michael Norman show
Another event, another incredible young talent putting the world record under threat.
Expecting Michael Norman to break the world record in his first career Diamond League 400 isn’t fair. Nor is it fair to expect Echevarria to break the WR in the long jump. But Norman dropped a 43.45 in his season opener on April 20 — the sixth-fastest performance in history — and, presumably, he didn’t plan on running his fastest time of the year in his first race of the year. At some point in 2019, Norman could give the WR a real scare, which means he’s a must-watch every time he competes.
That said, Thursday may not be the time to run fast. The forecast at race time calls for 55 degrees Fahrenheit (cold for sprinting) and, more concerningly, 16 mph winds. Norman did run 43.61 in the cool rain in Eugene last year, but even Norman can’t PR every time out, right? (Though he did tie his 200 pb with a 19.84 in Osaka on May 19).
LRC prediction: Norman wins handily, with a time right around 44.00.
Women’s 1500 (2:11 p.m. ET): Laura Muir looks to rebound after surprise weekend defeat
|Amy Griffiths||Great Britain||4:09.71|
|Kerry MacAngus||Great Britain||4:22.08||4:22.08|
|Sarah McDonald||Great Britain||4:03.17|
|Diana Mezulianikova||Czech Republic||4:06.12||4:10.08|
|Laura Muir||Great Britain||3:55.22|
|Jemma Reekie||Great Britain||4:06.11|
Given the way she looked at the European Indoor Champs in March — namely, utterly untouchable — Laura Muir would normally be a lock against this European-heavy field. However, Muir just lost to not one, but two Brits at the Westminster Mile in London on Sunday, running 4:32 as Melissa Courtney and Sarah McDonald (also running Stockholm) both clocked 4:31. Muir had just come down from a hard block of altitude training in Switzerland before that race; if she’s recovered by Thursday, she should be able to defeat this non-DL field.
If not, it’s anyone’s guess as there’s no clear stud in this field aside from Muir. Clearly, McDonald is fairly fit right now (and has the #2 pb in the field), while Romania’s Claudia Bobocea is coming off a 4:05 pb in Nanjing on May 21.
LRC prediction: We’ll chalk the Westminster Mile up to a rustbuster and take Muir FTW.
Women’s 5000 (2:30 p.m. ET): Hellen Obiri tries to remain perfect in 2019
|Melissa Courtney||Great Britain||15:04.75|
|Eilish McColgan||Great Britain||14:48.49|
|Anna Emilie Moller||Denmark||15:54.80||15:54.80|
Hellen Obiri was exceptional in 2017 and very good in the second half of 2018, but so far in 2019, she’s been perfect. It began with a string of cross country wins over the winter, culminating with a world title in Aarhus. Obiri followed that up by winning her track opener, clocking an impressive 8:25 to win a loaded 3000 in Doha, before cruising to a 31:23 road 10k win in Manchester on May 19. She returns to the track in Stockholm on Thursday, where the reigning world/Diamond League champion will be expected to make it seven wins from seven in 2019.
Of the runners entered here, Kenyan countrywoman Lilian Rengeruk came closest to stopping her in Doha, but she was only 3rd in that race, over three seconds behind Obiri. Caroline Kipkirui (14:27 pb, 5th in Doha) and 2015 World XC champ Agnes Tirop (14:24 pb) could also feature here, but really, it’s Obiri’s race to lose.
LRC prediction: Obiri wins it.
Men’s 800 (3:02 p.m. ET)
|Ryan Sanchez||Puerto Rico||1:44.82||1:44.82|
|Amel Tuka||Bosnia & Herzegovina||1:42.51||1:46.21|
This is a non-DL event, hence why most of the world’s top 800 men have elected to skip it. But there’s still talent here — seven of the nine starters have broken 1:45. However, only one of those men has done it in 2019, and it’s that guy — Ryan Sanchez of Puerto Rico — that we’re most interested in. Sanchez, 20, ran 1:44 on April 27 in his native Puerto Rico and impressed by running Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy close at the Oxy meet on May 16, where he finished just .11 of a second behind. This will be a good test for Sanchez, who will be running at his first DL meet.
LRC prediction: Sanchez is in good form, but let’s not forget that Marcin Lewandowski was second at last year’s DL final. Lewandowski is our pick.
Men’s 1500 (3:40 p.m. ET): Ingebrigtsens vs. Manangois in a family feud
Of the 14 racers in this field (not including pacers Timothy Sein and Cornelius Tuwei), five of them will be competing against their brother(s) on Thursday — three Ingebrigtsens (Henrik, Filip, and Jakob) and two Manangois (Elijah and George). And while the Ingebrigtsens may have the Manangois outnumbered, the Manangois have the more impressive medal haul, as they currently own all three 1500-meter world titles — Elijah is the senior champ, while George owns the U18 and U20 crowns.
This race could also be a rare opportunity to see all three Ingebrigtsens in the same race. That is something that, per Tilastopaja, has only happened twice in history, but the first came in an indoor 800 in 2015 — when Jakob was all of 14 years old — and the second in last year’s European 1500 final, when Filip was far from 100% due to injury. We view this as their first “real” showdown. That being said, Filip lost a low-key 1500 in Norway last Wednesday, running only 3:42.00 (the winner ran 3:41.61).
There is a possibility, however, that the Battle of the Ingebrigtsens may have to wait. Jakob was supposed to make his outdoor debut last week but withdrew with illness; according to Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, he’s been busy with exams this week, and while he is entered in the field as of now, a final decision won’t come until Wednesday or Thursday.
Should Jakob run, the European champion will be among the top men in the field, but earning his first Diamond League victory will be quite a challenge. The Kenyan duo of Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot have dominated the DL circuit over the past two years, and went 1-2 in the 2019 opener in Doha on May 3. And considering Cheruiyot, who was not at his best in Doha following an injury earlier this year, will have had almost four weeks to build his fitness since then, he should be even tougher to beat on Thursday. This is also the first outdoor race of 2019 for Samuel Tefera, the world indoor champ. In February, Tefera ran 3:31.04 in Birmingham to break the indoor world record at this distance — though it’s worth pointing out that he did lose to Jakob Ingebrigtsen four days later.
LRC prediction: As good as the Ingebrigtsens and Tefera are, we’re going to keep betting on Manangoi & Cheruiyot until someone proves they can beat them. Cheruiyot ran Manangoi close in Doha even though he wasn’t 100% on that day. We’ll say he turns the tables on his training partner in Stockholm and gets his first DL win of the season.
Men’s 10,000 (4:05 p.m. ET): The fastest 10,000 of the year (at least before Worlds)
|Juan Luis Barrios||Mexico||27:28.82||28:04.39|
|Juan Antonio Perez||Spain||28:25.66|
World-class 10,000-meter races are as rare these days as Bill Belichick smiles, but we’re getting one on Thursday in Stockholm. At 27 men, this is large as Diamond League races come, but who can blame these guys for wanting a piece of the action? There aren’t many opportunities to knock out the World Championship/Olympic standards, so it’s important to take them when they come.
The number for Worlds is 27:40.00, a time that only 15 men have secured so far in the qualifying window — though another 13 earned it by virtue of a top-15 finish at World XC (the other two guys in the top 15 already had it). Of the guys in Stockholm, Aron Kifle, Shadrack Kipchirchir, and Rhonex Kipruto already have the world standard; everyone else will be looking for it.
But there’s more to this race than that: the Olympic qualifying window is open. The Olympic standard (27:28.00) is even tougher, and no one has it yet. That’s a time that the Americans — Kipchirchir, Paul Chelimo, Kirubel Erassa, and Leonard Korir — will have in mind in particular. Should USATF decide to go with “top three at the Trials with the standard” as its 2020 selection model, going into the Trials with the standard in the 10,000 — an event in which only 10 Americans, ever, have bettered the 2020 Olympic standard — would be a major advantage.
And unlike Payton Jordan, where time supersedes all place concerns, the order of finish here matters — well, at least if you’re Ethiopian. Ethiopia is holding its official 10,000 trials for Worlds in July, but the Ethiopian federation hasn’t announced how exactly it is picking its team. There’s a good chance that the top two from that trials race will go to Worlds, but historically, time has also been a key factor in the Ethiopian selection process. Whoever runs the fastest 10,000 by an Ethiopian this year will likely go to Worlds as well, and the fastest 10,000 from an Ethiopian this year is likely to come in this race, with Hagos Gebrhiwet and 26:56 man Jemal Yimer (5th at 2017 Worlds) both entered alongside Mogos Tuemay (18th at World XC). The first of those three men across the line will likely punch his ticket to Worlds.
From an American standpoint, Chelimo is clearly the most interesting name in this race. Though he hasn’t run a 10,000 on the track since his college years in 2011, he’s using the reworked 2019 Worlds schedule (where the 5,000 precedes the 10,000 so a 5000 man has nothing to lose in trying the 10,000) to test himself over 10k. Given his accomplishments over 5,000 meters, sub-27:40 should be no problem for Chelimo, even if he could only manage 12th in the 5k in Shanghai on May 18 — though Chelimo made sure to let everyone know that he’s not worried about his fitness.
The only solid track session I have done before Shanghai DL💎 and now is 300X20 and 400X20 my wheels are not where they are supposed to be,running 13:13 without speed work is very impressive to me
— Paul Chelimo🇺🇸🥈🥉 (@Paulchelimo) May 25, 2019
Chelimo isn’t the only guy stepping up in this race — Hagos Gebrhiwet is as well, meaning that 2/3 of the 2016 Olympic 5,000 medalists will be running their first professional 10,000-meter race on Thursday. How they fare against studs like Yimer and Kipruto (world U20 10,000 champ) will be a clue as to how strong their medal chances are in Doha.
One other guy to keep an eye on is Switzerland’s Julien Wanders. Still only 23, he’s already the European record holder at 10k (27:25) and the half marathon (59:13) on the roads. Only two non-African-born men have ever broken 27:00 on the track (Galen Rupp and Chris Solinsky). That sort of performance may be beyond Wanders on Thursday, but he could (eventually) be the next man to join that club.
LRC prediction: Given that only one man in this field has broken 27:00, the difficulty of finding pacers who can run 27:00 pace deep into a 10,000, and the forecast (which calls for 16 mph winds), we feel fairly confident in saying that nobody will break 27:00 on Thursday. Still, it should be the fastest 10,000 this year (at least until Worlds), and with a bunch of studs lined up, it will be worth watching. We’ll go with Yimer, who has been tearing it up on the roads this year, as the winner, but Kipruto, who was 6th at World XC in March, is also a strong bet. Of course, that’s if the race goes fast. If it slows down late and comes down to a kick, that could put guys like Chelimo, Gebrhiwet, or a dark horse into play.
One more note on this race: we’re not actually sure if you’ll be able to watch it or not. The NBCSN broadcast only goes until 4:00, which means the only hope to watch this is via NBC Sports Gold. We’ve got to hope that they don’t cut the broadcast at that point as the 10,000 falls outside the usual TV window.