The 5 Events We Are Most Excited For in Sunday’s Rabat Diamond League

By Robert Johnson
June 3, 2022

After making its only US stop last week, the 2022 Wanda Diamond League heads to Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday for its lone African meet.

With NCAAs next week, we don’t have time for a full event-by-event preview but I’ve looked at the entries and tell you the five events I’m most excited for below.

Distance fans, there are two other mid-d/distance events that don’t make my cut — a men’s 1500 with Jake Wightman, Mohamed Katir, and Abel Kipsang (can someone stop this guy from racing every single week?) and a women’s 3000 featuring the intersex athlete Francine Niyonsaba. Why anyone would think it’s a good idea to have the men’s 1500 be a DL event the week after the Bowerman mile is hard for me to understand.

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Also Elaine Thompson-Herah is always fun to watch and she’s in the women’s 100.

*Schedule, Entries *TV/Streaming (CNBC 2 – 4 pm ET)

1. 3:46 p.m. ET – Men’s Steeplechase – El Bakkali vs Girma, Gold vs Silver

The men’s steeple is the featured event of the meet and the last event for good reason. Far from being a ceremonial cakewalk to fete the local champ like you used to see with Mo Farah in the UK Diamond Leagues, this race has it all. It features Morocco’s Olympic champ Soufiane El Bakkali, who is in good form as he won the Doha DL opener in 8:09. El Bakkali had better bring his ‘A’ game once again as the field also includes the other two Tokyo medallists in Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma and Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen. Kigen hasn’t been in good form this year (six races with his fastest being an 8:23 for 6th in Doha) so this should really all be about gold vs. silver. Girma is in supreme form as on Monday he became the first Ethiopian to break 8:00 when he ran 7:58 in Ostrava.

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El Bakkali normally doesn’t try to run fast. He likes to rely on his big kick and has only broken 8:00 once and only broken 8:05 three other times. But he may be forced to run fast here to keep up with Girma. The weather looks good (high of just 75) so let’s hope they get after it.

The field also includes 2016 Olympic champ (as well as 2017 and 2019 world champ) Conseslus Kipruto. He’s run 8:32 at altitude twice this year. I’d like to see at least a sub-8:20 from him to give me hope the 27-year-old can get back to his old form.

2. 3:26 p.m. ET – Men’s 400 hurdles – Karsten Warholm Opens Up His Season

World record holder Karsten Warholm races here for the first time in 2022 and I can’t wait to see what he does. He’s a treat to watch as he ALWAYS brings it.

If you are wondering like I was, “Wait, isn’t this kind of late to be opening up?” The answer is, “No, not if you are Karsten Warholm.” He historically has run his first hurdle race of the year at the end of May/beginning of June. He races a lot once he gets going but normally doesn’t start until around now.

Warholm rips his shirt to celebrate his Tokyo gold and WR

Karsten Warholm’s 400h Season Openers (all victories unless noted)
2016 – June 4 – 49.62
2017 – June 15 – 48.25
2018 – May 31 – 47.82 (2nd)
2019 – May 30 – 47.85
2020 – Aug 13 – 47.10
2021 – July 1 – 46.70 WR (he ran a 300h WR of 33.26 on June 4)
2022 – June 4 – TBD

3. 2:37 p.m. ET – Men’s 800 – Olympic champ Emmanuel Korir Runs His First 800 of 2022 And Will Face Rising Start Emmanuel Wanyonyi

This field is loaded with past stars, current stars, and future stars.

I’ve been waiting all year for Olympic champ Emmanuel Korir of Kenya to debut at 800 this year and he finally does so in this one. As the reigning DL champ, he’s got a bye into Worlds but opening up your 800 season in June is pretty late. He did run a 400 on May 21 but only ran 46.22 when his pb is 44.21. Does that mean he’s not in good form? We’ll find out (it should be noted it was quite rainy and not good for running fast when he ran 46.22). He’s far from the only big name in this one as 2020 Olympic silver medallist Ferguson Cheruiyot is in here as is 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos. Amos’ 1:50 opener in South Africa was horrible but he was talking big, declaring it’s going to be a “hot summer,” after running 1:44 in Ostrava. Can he actually time his peak right in 2022?

Other than Korir, the guy I’m going to be watching the closest is Emmanuel Wanyonyi of Kenya as he likely will be a big name soon, maybe starting Sunday. The 17-year-old won world juniors last year, won the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold event in Kenya earlier this year, and won his European debut last week on Monday in Ostrava. Can he challenge for the win?

Amel Tuka and Michael Saruni are also in the field.

4. 1:16 p.m. ET – Men’s Long Jump: Can A Multi Guy Beat The World’s Best?

Did you know that the longest long jumper in the world this year is a decathlete? Yep. Last Saturday in the middle of an 8377-point decathlon, 21-year-old Simon Ehammer of Switzerland did this:

I have no idea if he was planning on doing the long jump in Rabat before that, but he is now (he had an 8.30 pb last year). He’ll have his hands full as the field is loaded and includes Olympic champ Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece, 2019 world champ Tajay Gaye of Jamaica, Olympic bronze medallist Maykel Massó of Cuba, as well as American HJ/LJ star JuVaughn Harrison, who is long jumping for the first time outdoors this year

5. 3:35 p.m. ET – Women’s 800 – Is There Room For Another 20-Year-Old Star?

Field event fans are probably irate since I’m putting this non-DL event over some stacked field events, but hey, this is a distance-focused website, right? The women’s pole vault has Olympic champs Katie Nageotte, Katerina Stefanidi, and many others like world leader Sandi Morris, Holly Bradshaw, etc. The men’s discus has all of the Tokyo medallists plus world leader Kristjan Čeh, but I must admit I don’t think I’ve ever watched a discus competition from start to finish and my roommate in college was a discus All-American.

I’m mainly into the women’s 800 one as I want to see how Prudence Sekgodiso of South Africa looks. The 20-year-old ran 2:01.40 last year but has really improved a lot this year as she ran 1:58.41 to win in Nairobi. She hasn’t lost at 800 or 1500 this year. Could she be a player on the world scene? She only has a 56.4 400 pb so I’m not sure how massive her upside is. She’ll face two-time European silver medallist Renelle Lamote of France, who was the runner-up in Birmingham, as well as Olympic finalist Alexandra Bell of Great Britain and others.

Talk about the meet on our world-famous fan forum / messageboard. MB: Official 2022 Rabat DL Discussion Thread (2-4 pm ET Sunday, CNBC)


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