2019 Paris DL: Conseslus Kipruto & Taoufik Makhloufi Return, Grant Holloway Makes DL Debut, & the Noah Lyles Show Rolls On

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By Jonathan Gault
August 22, 2019

The 2019 Diamond League track and field / athletics regular season comes to a close at the Meeting de Paris on Saturday, where athletes will have one last chance to book their spot in the finals in Zurich (August 29) and Brussels (September 6).

But this weekend’s meet in Paris is about more than chasing Diamond League points. Two Olympic champions are slated to make their return to the Diamond League after lengthy absences, while one of the sport’s brightest young stars will make his DL debut. Reigning world and Olympic steeple champion Conseslus Kipruto will race his first Diamond League since his dramatic one-shoed victory in last year’s final in Zurich; he has not raced at all since World XC in March due to a foot injury. Meanwhile, three-time Olympic medalist Taoufik Makhloufi, who disappeared from the sport in 2017 and 2018, is set to run the 1500, his first Diamond League meet since the 2016 final in Brussels. They’ll be joined by 21-year-old American Grant Holloway, the world leader in the 110 hurdles, who will see DL action for the first time in his career after finishing second at USAs.

Other headliners include Jakob and Filip Ingebrigtsen in a super-sized men’s 1500 (19 athletes!), Clayton Murphy and Michael Saruni in the non-DL men’s 800, Noah Lyles and NCAA champ Divine Oduduru in the men’s 200, and world leader Karsten Warholm in the 400 hurdles.

Below, a look at the top events on Saturday’s schedule.

What: 2019 Meeting de Paris

Where: Stade Charléty, Paris, France

When: Saturday, August 24

Schedule/entries/results * TV/streaming information *2018 LRC coverage

Talk about the meet on our messageboard/fan forum: MB: Official 2019 Paris DL Discussion Thread – Olympic champs Kipruto & Makhloufi return to the DL + The Ingebrigtsen Civil War

Men’s 800 (2:14 p.m. ET): Clayton Murphy preps for Diamond League final

Name Country PB SB
Harun Abda USA 1:45.55 1:45.55
Abubaker Abdalla Qatar 1:44.33 1:44.33
Pierre-Ambroise Bosse France 1:42.53 1:45.43
Collins Kipruto Kenya 1:45.17 1:45.17
Andreas Kramer Sweden 1:45.03 1:45.10
Brandon McBride Canada 1:43.20 1:43.83
Clayton Murphy USA 1:42.93 1:44.47
Michael Saruni Kenya 1:43.25 1:43.70
Mostafa Smaili Morocco 1:44.90 1:45.03
Gabriel Tual France 1:46.35 1:46.36
Wesley Vazquez Puerto Rico 1:44.40 1:44.40

Murphy winning USAs in 2018

The Diamond League final in the men’s 800 is already set, as the last points race was in London on July 21. This is a non-DL race, but there’s still some serious quality in the field with the reigning world champ (Pierre-Ambroise Bosse), Olympic bronze medalist (Clayton Murphy) and two guys who have run 1:43 this year in former NCAA champs Brandon McBride and Michael Saruni.

Murphy finds himself in a very similar situation to his NOP teammate Craig Engels last week in Birmingham: if he wants to medal at Worlds, this is a race in which he should be contending for the win. None of the five fastest men of 2019 are in Paris, and of the six men who have beaten Murphy this year, only one (McBride) is racing here. Of course, McBride and Vazquez have both been running well (McBride is 2-0 vs. Murphy in 2019).

Bosse and Saruni are both big wildcards. Bosse wasn’t great in 2018 coming off his world title, and he finished a well-beaten 9th in Monaco in his only DL of 2019 so far. But he’s also the world champ and has a 1:42 pb. Meanwhile Saruni, who ran a shocking 1:43.98 indoors in February, missed the early part of the outdoor season due to passport issues but impressed with a 1:43.70 in his DL debut in Monaco. His upside is tremendous. Unlike McBride and Murphy, neither Saruni nor Bosse is running the DL final on Thursday so they may go for broke here.

JG prediction: Saruni looked good in Monaco and I think he’s trending in the right direction. I’ll take him FTW with McBride second and Murphy third. Expect front-runner Vazquez to lead through about 650 before fading late.

Men’s 1500 (2:35 p.m. ET): Ingebrigtsens chase first DL win as Makhloufi & Willis chase IAAF standard

Name Country PB SB
Mounir Akbache France 3:39.81 3:53.52
Bethwell Birgen Kenya 3:30.77 3:33.12
Rabii Doukkana France 3:34.87 3:34.87
Abdelaati Iguider Morocco 3:28.79 3:34.84
Filip Ingebrigtsen Norway 3:30.01 3:30.82
Jakob Ingebrigtsen Norway 3:30.16 3:30.16
Vincent Kibet Kenya 3:31.96 3:33.21
Brimin Kiprono Kenya 3:35.32 3:35.32
Marcin Lewandowski Poland 3:34.04 3:34.14
Taoufik Makhloufi Algeria 3:28.75 3:36.50
Stewart McSweyn Australia 3:31.81 3:31.81
Alexis Miellet France 3:34.23 3:34.23
Ronald Musagala Uganda 3:30.58 3:30.58
Matthew Ramsden Australia 3:35.85 3:35.85
Ferguson Rotich Kenya 3:33.21 3:43.21
Charles Simotwo Kenya 3:32.59 3:33.25
Ayanleh Souleiman Djibouti 3:29.58 3:30.79
Samuel Tefera Ethiopia 3:31.39 3:31.39
Nick Willis New Zealand 3:29.66 3:37.86

There’s a lot on the line in this race. For one thing, there’s the genuine chance to win a Diamond League 1500. Timothy Cheruiyot, who has won 11 of the last 12 times he’s lined up for a 1500/mile at a DL meet, has robbed much of the suspense from what is typically one of the most dramatic events on the track. But with Cheruiyot’s place in the final in Brussels assured, he sat out Paris in favor of the Kenyan championships this week — where he showed he’s still super fit by ripping a huge 1:43.11 pb to win the 800 (previous pb: 1:44.60).

MB: Timothy Cheruiyot Runs 1:42.11 800 pb!!! But don’t hand him the gold quite yet….. (Manangoi is back in action)

While the win will be on many of these athlete’s minds, that won’t be the only consideration on Saturday. Qualifying for the DL final, hitting the World Championship standard, or simply testing one’s limits at a new distance will all be major goals for the assembled athletes. Let’s run through some of the major players to see what each has at stake.

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Filip & Jakob Ingebrigtsen
Aim: Win

Jakob (3rd, 21 points) and Filip (T-5th, 11 points) are going to be in the final, so this race is all about the W. Both Jakob (3rd Stockholm, 4th Pre, 2nd Lausanne, 2nd Monaco) and Filip (3rd Pre, 4th Lausanne, 2nd London) have come close to wins on the DL circuit this year, but both men have been denied on multiple occasions by Cheruiyot, who hogged wins at Stockholm, Pre, Lausanne, and Monaco.

With Cheruiyot out of the way, both men will have a chance to join select company. Only three non-African men have ever won a DL 1500/mile: American Leo Manzano in 2011, Brit Jake Wightman in 2017, and Pole Marcin Lewandowski, who did it two months ago in Oslo. And only two Norwegians, hurdler Karsten Warholm and javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen, have ever won any DL event in the 10-year history of the circuit.

Taoufik Makhloufi & Nick Willis
Aim: Hit the IAAF standard

Two of the three reigning Olympic medalists don’t have the IAAF standard for Worlds (3:36.00). And while both Makhloufi and Willis could potentially get in based off the global descending order list, both would sleep easier if they just knocked it out in Paris, which figures to be their best remaining opportunity to get the time (the qualifying window runs through September 6).

Makhloufi, who returned to action on July 16 after an unexplained two-year absence, has the better chance. He’s finished second in all four of his races so far this year, including a 3:36.50 in Bern on August 3. Put him in a DL field for the first time in three years and he should shave off that extra half-second. A secondary goal for Makhloufi will be to finish in the top four to give himself a shot at qualifying for the final.

Willis, 36, faces more of a challenge, but he is trending in the right direction. After an awful 3:59 at Pre, he ran 3:37.86 at the Sunset Tour meet and 3:55.45 in the mile in London (also equivalent to 3:37 high in the 1500). Last week, he won the Guardian Mile on the roads in Cleveland. Sub-3:36 is not a gimme at this point in Willis’ career, but he knows how to time his peak correctly and he won’t get a better opportunity than Paris to hit the standard.

But he doesn’t really need to hit the 3:36.00 standard. At 3:37.86, Willis is currently #46 in the world when you limit it to three entries per country. The IAAF wants to take 45 for the 1500, so even if he’s not safe now, if he just breaks 3:37.00 he might be safe (3:36.98 is #37).

Stewart McSweyn & Ronald Musagala
Aim: Make the final

McSweyn is already into the 5,000 final on August 29 in Zurich, so the only question for him is whether he wants to double up if he makes it in the 1500 as well. He has zero points in the 1500 right now, so would need to finish at least 5th to have a serious chance of making it to Brussels.

Musagala has been outstanding this year, running 3:31 and 3:30 to twice break the Ugandan record and winning a competitive 1500 in Birmingham last week. Unfortunately for him, he’s still on the bubble when it comes to making the final as last week’s win in Birmingham wasn’t in an official DL race. Twelve men make it, and right now Musagala is tied for 12th with Craig Engels and Clayton Murphy. The tiebreaker is fastest time during the qualification phase, and Musagala has the clear edge right now given he ran 3:31 in Lausanne (his 3:30 in Monaco came in a non-DL race). Musagala should be fine, but if he bombs Paris and someone like Makhloufi or McSweyn has a huge race, he could be left out.

Ferguson Rotich
Aim: Test his limits

Rotich is the Diamond League points leader and second-fastest man in the world this year in the 800, so this race is more for fun than anything. But he has shown some intriguing 1500 ability in past dalliances with the distance (he ran 3:33 last year in Berlin) and it will be interesting to see how he goes against a quality field.

Craig Engels
Aim: Deliver a kick-ass best man speech, hope someone scratches from the final

Engels is on the outside looking in when it comes to the final, and he won’t be running Paris this weekend because he’s serving as the best man at a friend’s wedding. All he can do is hope no one else leapfrogs him and that someone scratches from the final (currently he’s first in line to get a bid if there’s a scratch). Elijah Manangoi, who hadn’t raced since June 30, was a potential scratch candidate, but Manangoi returned to win the Kenyan 1500 title on Thursday, which suggests he’ll be able to run the DL final.

JG prediction: Jakob Ingebrigtsen has the #2 time in the world this year (3:30.16) and was second behind Cheruiyot in his last two Diamond Leagues in Lausanne and Monaco. The 18-year-old is my pick.

Men’s 200 (2:57 p.m. ET): The Noah Lyles show rolls on

Name Country PB SB
Aaron Brown Canada 19.95 19.95
Ramil Guliyev Turkey 19.76 19.99
Christophe Lemaitre France 19.80 20.46
Noah Lyles USA 19.50 19.50
Clarence Munyai South Africa 19.69 20.04
Divine Oduduru Nigeria 19.73 19.73
Alex Quinonez Ecuador 19.87 19.87
Meba-Mickael Zeze France 20.44 20.44
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Noah Lyles has officially earned must-watch status from me: anytime he’s racing, I need to see it. This will be his first time racing in almost a month, since his commanding 19.78 victory in the USA final in Des Moines on July 28.

Another Lyles win in Paris seems assured — he’s lost just once at this distance outdoors as a professional — but there are plenty of questions that will motivate his fans, including but not limited to: the winning time, his choice of pre-race intro/post-race celebration, and his sock selection.

The rest of the field will look to stake their claim as Doha medal contenders as the silver and bronze medals are completely up for grabs and several of the contenders will race in Paris. NCAA champ Divine Oduduru is the third-fastest man in the world this year at 200 (19.73) but looked awful in his pro debut in Monaco, finishing last in the 100 in 10.26. Is he fried from a long NCAA season or can he turn it around? Aaron Brown swept the Canadian titles at 100 and 200 and has run PRs at both distances this year (9.96/19.95). And Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez ran a South American record of 19.87 in Lausanne before earning Pan Am gold.

JG prediction: Lyles will win this race. His 19.50 in Lausanne showed he’s in killer shape, but it’s a lot to ask him to repeat that performance considering there have only been eight times of 19.50 or faster in history. If conditions are good, I’ll go for a time in the high 19.6’s.

Women’s 800 (3:06 p.m. ET): With no Semenya or Wilson, the winner is genuinely unpredictable

Name Country PB SB
Natoya Goule Jamaica 1:56.15 1:57.90
Kate Grace USA 1:58.28 1:59.58
Hanna Green USA 1:58.19 1:58.19
Nelly Jepkosgei Bahrain 1:58.96 1:59.00
Renelle Lamote France 1:58.01 2:01.21
Olha Lyakhova Ukraine 1:58.64 2:00.35
Morgan Mitchell Australia 2:00.06 2:00.06
Chanelle Price USA 1:59.10 2:03.16
Raevyn Rogers USA 1:57.69 1:58.65
Gudaf Tsegay Ethiopia 1:59.77 2:00.45

Since the start of 2016, it’s been pretty easy to predict who will win a Diamond League 800. Is Caster Semenya in the race? She’ll win. If she’s not, Francine Niyonsaba will win. If neither of them are in the race, Ajee’ Wilson wins. But with Semenya and Niyonsaba not allowed to compete right now and Wilson resting up for the DL final in Brussels, the winner in Paris isn’t as easy to predict.

Raevyn Rogers was third in the last Diamond League in Birmingham last weekend, tops among women in this field (winner Wilson is skipping this meet; runner-up Lynsey Sharp is running the British champs). That puts Rogers in good position, but she’ll be challenged by Hanna Green (who beat her at USAs), the mercurial Natoya Goule (fastest SB in the field), and Nelly Jepkosgei, who, other than Wilson and Semenya, is the only woman to win a DL this year.

JG prediction: Jepkosgei, who recently changed allegiances from Kenya to Bahrain, was on fire earlier this year until bombing with a 2:04 in her last race in Monaco. I’ll pick her to get on track and earn the win here. Side note: I’d love to know more about Jepkosgei’s transfer of allegiance process. She can’t represent Bahrain until August 13, 2021, meaning she’ll miss the next two Worlds and the 2020 Olympics. She would be a genuine medal threat in Doha running for Kenya.

Men’s steeplechase (3:29 p.m. ET): Kipruto returns

Name Country PB SB
Andy Bayer USA 8:14.46 8:16.52
Djilali Bedrani France 8:09.47 8:09.47
Nicholas Bett Kenya 8:10.07 8:11.47
Chala Beyo Ethiopia 8:06.48 8:06.48
Albert Chemutai Uganda 8:12.29 8:12.29
Soufiane El Bakkali Morocco 7:58.15 8:04.82
Ibrahim Ezzaydouni Spain 8:14.62 8:23.36
Lemecha Girma Ethiopia 8:08.18 8:08.18
Stanley Kebenei USA 8:08.30 8:15.94
Abraham Kibiwot Kenya 8:05.72 8:05.72
Benjamin Kigen Kenya 8:05.12 8:05.12
Conseslus Kipruto Kenya 8:00.12
Lawrence Kipsang Kenya 8:11.26 8:11.26
Barnabas Kipyego Kenya 8:09.13 8:12.93
Amos Kirui Kenya 8:08.37 8:32.35
John Koech Bahrain 8:09.62 8:20.78
Wilberforce Kones Kenya 8:22.55 8:23.11
Mohamed Tindouft Morocco 8:12.89 8:12.89
Abdelhamid Zerrifi France 8:25.96 8:30.73

He’s baaaack

All eyes will be on Conseslus Kipruto in this one. He’s been unbeatable in the big races the last three years, winning the Olympics in 2016, Worlds in 2017, and Commonwealths in 2018 as well as the last three Diamond League finals. But how fit is he now?

Kipruto has been dealing with the same injury as Evan Jager this year — a stress fracture of the talus bone in his left foot — and hasn’t raced on the track at all in 2019. But Kipruto has the luxury of a bye into Worlds, so he didn’t have to race to come back for a trials race in July like Jager did. Because of the bye, Kipruto doesn’t have to run this race either, but Kipruto likely wants to see where he stacks up against the world’s best just as much as we do and if he’s in good form, winning some cash here and then some major cash in the DL final would be a nice bonus. To make the DL final, he may only need to finish 6th as three points right now would put him in a four-way tie for 9th (12 make it). A 4th place showing would make me feel more confident.

With Kipruto gone, World Championship silver medalist Soufiane El Bakkali has been tops in the world this year, picking up DL wins in Doha and Monaco, but head-to-head Kipruto owns a commanding 10-3 advantage, with two of those defeats coming on El Bakkali’s home turf in Morocco.

JG prediction: Perhaps it’s foolhardy to bet on a guy who hasn’t raced a steeple in almost a year, but when he’s healthy, Kipruto is the best steepler in the world. He’s my pick.

Men’s 110 hurdles (3:50 p.m. ET): Grant Holloway makes DL debut

Name Country PB SB
Freddie Crittenden USA 13.27 13.31
Grant Holloway USA 12.98 12.98
Ronald Levy Jamaica 13.05 13.23
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde France 12.95 13.34
Orlando Ortega Spain 12.94 13.05
Daniel Roberts USA 13.00 13.00
Sergey Shubenkov ANA 12.92 13.12
Wenjun Xie China 13.17 13.17
Embed from Getty Images

If the Diamond League final is a preview of Worlds, consider this a preview to the preview as the field is stacked. Reigning world/Olympic champ Omar McLeod is missing, but all the other major contenders are here: world leader Grant Holloway (in his DL debut), US champ Daniel RobertsOrlando Ortega (winner of the last two Diamond Leagues), and Sergey Shubenkov (winner of the two Diamond Leagues before that).

Pay particular attention to Holloway, Roberts, and Shubenkov. Can the Americans, who have been battling back-and-forth since the winter, hold up after a long collegiate season? And can Shubenkov return to the kind of form we saw from him two months ago? He won in Rome on June 6 and Rabat on June 16, but hasn’t raced since after McLeod wiped him out at the finish line in Rabat.

JG prediction: Ortega has won his last five races and once someone gets on a roll in the hurdles, they’re hard to stop. Ortega FTW.

Talk about the meet on our messageboard/fan forum: MB: Official 2019 Paris DL Discussion Thread – Olympic champs Kipruto & Makhloufi return to the DL + The Ingebrigtsen Civil War


Editor’s note: We will not be writing our normal post-race recap this week as a large portion of the staff will be on vacation.


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