2022 Monaco DL Preview: World Champs Square Off, and Is the Women’s 1500 WR Under Threat?

By Jonathan Gault
August 9, 2022

If you’re like me, the Monaco Diamond League is one of those events you circle on the calendar when the schedule is announced (for those really planning ahead, it looks like next year’s meet will be on July 21). The setting on the French Riviera is incredible, the track is fast, and the stars love racing there. You just know it’s going to be good. Here’s a reminder of some of the incredible performances we’ve seen in Monaco in the last four years:

2021Faith Kipyegon runs 3:51.07 in 1500 (#4 all-time).

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2020Joshua Cheptegei runs 12:35.37 world record in 5000.

2019Sifan Hassan runs 4:12.33 world record in mile; Nijel Amos runs 1:41.89 in 800.

2018: Beatrice Chepkoech runs 8:44.32 world record in steeple.

So we’re basically guaranteed at least one bonkers distance performance (this year, my money is only Faith Kipyegon in the women’s 1500, especially since there’s no men’s 1500 this year). A bunch of top Americans have made the trip to Europe to take on the world’s best, including Bryce Hoppel and Josh Thompson who will face Emmanuel Korir and Jake Wightman in the 1000; Sinclaire Johnson and Elise Cranny who will try to stay within camera view of Kipyegon in the 1500; Grant Fisher, Woody KincaidJoe Klecker, and Paul Chelimo are all in the 3000 where Worlds silver medalist Jacob Krop is the headliner; and Emma CoburnCourtney Frerichs, and Courtney Wayment are in the steeple led by Worlds silver medalist Werkuha Getachew in the steeple.

But the best matchups come in the sprints. The women’s 100 is a battle of Jamaican world champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, while American world champs Noah Lyles and Michael Norman (plus Erriyon Knighton) will square off in the men’s 200.

You’re not going to want to miss this one. Below, in chronological order, a guide to the best races at one of the best meets of the year.

*Schedule, entries, & results *TV/streaming information (2-4 pm ET, Peacock) *All LRC 2022 Monaco coverage

Women’s 400 hurdles (2:04 p.m. ET)

Okay, full disclosure, this isn’t one of the best races of the meet; none of the top five finishers from Worlds are in the field. But I’m bringing it up to discuss who’s not here: Sydney McLaughlin. It’s a bit odd. On July 26, two days after Worlds ended, McLaughlin was announced as running Monaco. Ten days later, she withdrew in order to run the Gyulai Memorial meet in Hungary on Monday instead (she won in 51.68).

Is this a problem?

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It’s not a huge one in this specific instance. McLaughlin still flew over to Europe to compete, something she hadn’t done for three years. Monaco would have offered more media exposure, but Gyulai is one of the top meets in Europe and its fields were better than many Diamond Leagues. Either way, she would have crushed whatever field was put in front of her.

In the grand scheme of things, however, the sport is better off with its biggest stars competing on the Diamond League circuit. The Diamond League is the equivalent of the NBA’s regular season. When the best athletes only care about the championships, fans inevitably care less about the regular season (just like the NBA).

It’s hard to be too critical of McLaughlin, who has produced some of the most thrilling moments in the sport over the last two years. She and coach Bobby Kersee have hit on a formula: McLaughlin competes sparingly in the 400 hurdles, but when she does compete, she makes it count. Between 2021 and 2022, McLaughlin ran seven 400 hurdle finals and broke the world record in four of them. But would it really be that much more to ask for her to run just one more race — say, the 400 in Monaco against Shaunae Miller-Uibo — instead of ending her season now?

Perhaps that is the tradeoff we must make to witness greatness. The fact is, when you have a contract as big as McLaughlin’s, there is no incentive to compete on the Diamond League circuit — which she hasn’t done since 2019. It’s similar to late-career Bolt, who ran just four Diamond League races in his final four years as a pro.

But if/when she adopts an event like the 400 next year — you know, one where there might actually be a chance of losing — she needs to be racing Diamond Leagues again.

LRC addition: If we were McLaughlin, why not do it this year? Get paid to run Monaco then go on a two-week honeymoon with our new husband on the Riviera. Train maybe twice a week. Then do some combo of Lausanne, Brussels, Zurich. The performances may not be optimal but the sport would be better off.

Men’s 1000 (2:14 p.m. ET): World champs Korir & Wightman meet in the middle

Who would win in a 1000-meter race between the 800 world champion and the 1500 world champion?

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We’ll actually get an answer to that hypothetical on Wednesday as Emmanuel Korir and Jake Wightman are both entered in the 1000 in Monaco against a field that also includes 800 bronze medalist Marco Arop, and Americans Bryce HoppelJosh Thompson, and Clayton Murphy.

Both Korir and Wightman will be running on tired legs as Korir won the 800 at the Silesia Diamond League on Saturday in 1:45.72 while Wightman took bronze in the 1500 at Commonwealths on the same day in 3:30.53. That could open the door for someone like Arop — who will be fresher and went on a post-Olympic tear in 2021 with DL wins at Pre and Lausanne.

But it’s hard to pick against Wightman. As an 800/1500 man (pbs of 1:44/3:29), Wightman was tailor-made to run the 1000. Korir, a 400/800 guy, will be uncharted territory: this will be the first race of his life longer than 800. That makes Wightman the clear favorite — as long as he’s not exhausted from two grueling championship 1500’s in the last three weeks.

Women’s 100 (2:24 p.m. ET): World champs Fraser-Pryce & Jackson face off

Last year, at age 34, 100-meter GOAT Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce arguably enjoyed the best year of her career. She was beaten to Olympic gold in Tokyo by countrywoman Elaine Thompson-Herah, but SAFP ran the two fastest times of her career (10.63 in Kingston, 10.60 in Lausanne) and ran 10.75 or faster six times.

Incredibly, she’s been even better in 2022. SAFP has yet to match the heights of her 2021 campaign, but her consistency has been ridiculous. She has run five 100m finals in 2022 and has clocked the following times: 10.67, 10.67, 10.67, 10.66, 10.67.

That’s especially crazy when you consider only five women in history have broken 10.7.

The one thing missing this year is a pb, and Fraser-Pryce still believes she can run in the 10.5’s. It might be tough in Monaco, which doesn’t have a reputation as a fast sprint track.

The focus here should be on the head-to-head battle anyway as Fraser-Pryce will take on fellow Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the Worlds silver medalist in the 100 and world champion at 200, where Jackson ran 21.45 (#2 all-time), beating Fraser-Pryce in the process.

Women’s 1500 (2:32 p.m. ET): Could the world record go down?

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This race has not been officially announced as a world record attempt, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Genzebe Dibaba‘s 3:50.07 comes under threat. That’s because Faith Kipyegon is in the field. At Worlds, we asked Kipyegon whether she felt she was in world record shape, and while she said she was just focused on Worlds in that moment, she did say she wanted to chase a personal best after the championships. Considering Kipyegon’s personal best (3:51.07) is exactly one second off the world record, and considering the world record is the only thing she hasn’t accomplished in the 1500, and considering Monaco is famous for its fast middle-distance times (Dibaba’s 1500 WR and Hassan’s mile WR were both set on this track), we could be in store for a fast time.

We reached out to Kipyegon’s agent Valentijn Trouw about a WR attempt. Like Kipyegon, he wouldn’t call Wednesday’s race a WR attempt.

“If weather is good, she would like to go for a personal best,” Trouw wrote in a text message.

The weather looks good enough for 1500 running (81 degrees, 7 mph wind), so the question is how fast can Kipyegon run? So far, it looks as if Kipyegon is slightly fitter than she was in 2021.

Race 2021 2022
First DL 3:53.91 (Florence) 3:52.59 (Eugene)
Olympics/Worlds 3:53.11 3:52.96
Second DL 3:51.07 (Monaco) ???

Full disclosure: Kipyegon’s second Diamond League last year came four weeks before the Olympic final; her run in Monaco will be just over three weeks after the World Championship final in Eugene. But considering she skipped the Commonwealth Games, Kipyegon should be recovered and if her goal is a personal best, she clearly believes she’s ready to run fast. The track in Monaco is quick, and if the pacing lights are in place, she’ll have a target to chase. The only thing that might have helped is Gudaf Tsegay in the field — Tsegay could make it farther at 3:50 pace than any pacemaker, and Kipyegon was able to run 3:51 last year in part because she had Hassan to chase. But Kipyegon is good enough that she can do it on her own. She just needs to summon one of the best performances of her glittering career.

From an American perspective, World Championship finalists Sinclaire Johnson and Cory McGee are both entered, and while they won’t be anywhere near Kipyegon, they’ll have the chances to improve their PBs (3:58.85 for Johnson, 4:00.34 for McGee). US 5,000 champ Elise Cranny (4:02.62 pb) should also have the opportunity to challenge the 4:00 barrier. *Entries

Will Faith Kipyegon break the 1500 WR in Monaco?

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Men’s 110 hurdles (2:47 p.m. ET): Holloway vs. Parchment, at last (hopefully)

Olympic champion Hansle Parchment hasn’t raced world champion Grant Holloway since beating him for gold in Tokyo last year, but both men are entered in Monaco on Wednesday. It should be a great matchup — the fast-starting Holloway successfully defended his world title in Eugene last month (though he was beaten in Hungary on Monday), while the fast-closing Parchment hasn’t lost a 110 hurdles final in 2022. The problem is, Parchment hasn’t run the two biggest finals of the season as he injured himself in the warmup ahead of the World Championship final and withdrew from the Commonwealth Games final on August 4 “out of an abundance of caution.” If he’s good to go, this should be a fun race with US champ Daniel Roberts and Worlds runner-up Trey Cunningham (making his DL debut) also among the entrants.

Women’s 800 (2:56 p.m. ET): Non-DL event offers opportunity for American victory

Last week, with a number of the world’s top 800 runners at the Commonwealth Games, Americans Ajee’ Wilson and Sage Hurta went 1-2 at the Silesia Diamond League. We could see a similar outcome in Monaco as five of the 11 names on the start list for this one are American (Hurta, Raevyn RogersOlivia BakerKendra ChambersHeather MacLean). Jamaica’s Natoya Goule, Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi, and Great Britain’s Jemma Reekie should provide stiff competition, but Baker and Hurta have both been in the form of their life this year, and MacLean, who ran 1:58 in a time trial a month ago, could be ready to pop one in a real race after a 4:01 1500 pb in Poland on Saturday. *Entries

Men’s 3000 (3:16 p.m. ET): Can Grant Fisher contend for his first Diamond League win?

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Lots of interesting names in this one. You’ve got World Championship 5,000 silver medalist Jacob Krop and fellow Kenyan Nicholas Kipkorir, who went 1-2 in that super fast 5,000 in Rome, both running 12:46. Grant Fisher is back for his first Diamond League of the year after finishing 4th and 6th in the 10k and 5k at Worlds. Olympic bronze medalist Paul Chelimo, who didn’t look close to fit earlier this year, has made the trip across the Atlantic and is entered. Ethiopians Berihu Aregawi and Telahun Bekele, who both won Diamond Leagues earlier this year but struggled at Worlds, are running and searching for redemption. And Americans Joe Klecker and Woody Kincaid are both searching for PBs.

From an American perspective, it should be fun to see how close Fisher can come to the win here. He proved last month in Eugene that he’s one of the best distance runners on Earth, and only one of the men who beat him at Worlds (Krop) is in this race. If Fisher wins, he may have to break the American record to do so. The American record belongs to Bernard Lagat and is 7:29.00 (Fisher’s pb is 7:37.21 from February 2021).

The other guy I’ll be keeping a close eye on is South Sudan’s Domnic Lokinyomo Lobalu. The former Athlete Refugee Team member stunned the world by running 7:29 to win in Stockholm on June 30, and unlike virtually everyone else in this race, he didn’t run Worlds because he didn’t have a qualifying standard. This race is his Worlds, and he’ll be better-rested than his competitors. If he wins again on Wednesday, it won’t come as a shock.

*Entries

Will Grant Fisher break the 7:29.00 3k AR in Monaco?

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Where will Grant Fisher finish in the Monaco 3k?

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Men’s 200 (3:33 p.m. ET): The race of the meet

Did you like the men’s 200m final at Worlds? Of course you did. On Wednesday, they’re running it back in Monaco, plus an extra dose of world champion. That means we get Noah Lyles at the peak of his powers, who by himself would be worth the price of admission to this meet. We get Erriyon Knighton, fresh off his first career European victory in Hungary on Monday. We get NCAA 100/200 champion Joseph Fahnbulleh. We don’t get Kenny Bednarek, who pulled up lame in Hungary, but we do get 400m world champ Michael Norman instead. What a field.

The Norman addition is noteworthy, because he is the only man to ever defeat Lyles in a Diamond League 200 race. Check out Lyles’ career record, starting with his DL debut as a 19-year-old in Shanghai in 2017:

Date Location Time Place
5/13/17 Shanghai 19.90 1st
9/1/17 Brussels 20.00 1st
5/4/18 Doha 19.83 1st
5/26/18 Eugene 19.69 1st
7/5/18 Lausanne 19.69 1st
7/20/18 Monaco 19.65 1st
8/30/18 Zurich 19.67 1st
6/6/19 Rome 19.72 2nd
7/5/19 Lausanne 19.50 1st
8/24/19 Paris 19.65 1st
9/6/19 Brussels 19.74 1st
8/14/20 Monaco 19.76 1st
8/21/21 Eugene 19.52 1st
5/13/22 Doha 19.72 1st

Norman was a bit fitter when he ran his 19.70 to beat Lyles in 2019 (he was coming off his 43.45 400 pb seven weeks earlier), but it’s worth remembering that Norman has the same 100m pb as Lyles (9.86) and he did run 43.60 and 43.56 earlier this year in his specialty event. Lyles will still go off as the heavy, heavy favorite after his unforgettable 19.31 to win Worlds, but Norman should be able to contend with anyone else in this field.

Who wins the 200?

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Women’s steeple (3:44 p.m. ET): Redemption for the Americans?

It boggles the mind that Monaco is ending with this race instead of the men’s 200, but here we are. World champ Norah Jeruto isn’t here, but silver medalist Werkuha Getachew of Ethiopia is. Can she continue her already ridiculous improvement, which began with a 9:53 in her first-ever steeple in December and took her to 9:07 in May and 8:54 and global silver in July? Even if she can’t improve on that time, she will start as the clear favorite based on what she showed in Eugene.

All three American World Championship team members are also entered: Emma CoburnCourtney Frerichs, and Courtney Wayment. Neither finished as highly as they wanted to at Worlds, but Monaco at least offers the opportunity to chase a fast time and avoid a totally wasted season.

It’s a more important race for Coburn than for Frerichs. Frerichs started slowly in 2022 but has gradually improved this year; her 6th at Worlds was a solid showing, and even if she ran her pb, she wouldn’t have finished on the podium. Coburn, meanwhile, went into Worlds thinking she was ready to run in the 8:50’s and faded to 8th in 9:16. She and coach/husband Joe Bosshard have taken a different approach to training this year, hoping to avoid burnout by not blasting as many super hard workouts. And while Coburn’s dominant win at USAs was more impressive than the time would indicate (9:10), they don’t have a ton to show for it. A fast time here for Coburn would help validate the new approach. But if Coburn continues to struggle, it will be back to the drawing board in the offseason.

Talk about 2022 Monaco on our messageboard. MB: Offiical 2022 Monaco DL Discussion thread: Will Grant Fisher break the 3000 AR, Will Faith Kipyegon break the 1500 WR?

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