2024 Doha DL Preview: American 200m Showdown, Dos Santos Debuts, Kenyan Stars vs Nordas in 1500

The 2024 track season is heating up. The US Olympic Trials begin on June 21, and the six weeks between now and then is full of world-class track & field. Stateside, we’ve got the LA Grand Prix (May 18), the Pre Classic (May 25), NCAAs (June 4-8), and the NYC Grand Prix (June 9). Plus the Wanda Diamond League is back. After a couple of throat-clearing openers in China, we’re about to hit the meat of the schedule: five Diamond League meets over the next 24 days, starting with Friday’s competition in Doha.

Steven GardinerAlison dos SantosBeatrice ChebetMary Moraa, and Narve Nordas are among the notable names traveling to the Persian Gulf this week where the crown jewel is the men’s 200m showdown between two of the planet’s hottest sprinters: Americans Courtney Lindsey and Kenny Bednarek. In this article, I preview the marquee track events in the order that they occur.

Who doesn’t love a Friday Diamond League? Duck out from work a little early (you have our permission) — granted this may be hard on the West Coast where the meet starts at 9 a.m. Or find a screen and fire up the Peacock live stream at your office/couch/bar. If you can’t watch live, you can always tune into our live reaction show at 2:05 p.m. ET or get our recap show as a podcast after the fact by joining the LetsRun.com Supporters Club.

What: 2024 Doha Diamond League
Where: Qatar SC Stadium, Doha, Qatar
When: Friday, May 10. DL track events (and the Peacock broadcast) begin at 12:00 p.m. ET.

How to watch: This meet will be streamed live in the United States on Peacock from 12 – 2 p.m. ET on Friday. For full TV/streaming details, see below.

Full Doha schedule/entries/results * TV/streaming information

Reaction show: As you watch the meet, share your thoughts on it on the Letsrun.com messageboard and then catch our live instant reaction show at 2:05 p.m. ET on Friday.

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Men’s 400 (12:04 p.m. ET): Does Gardiner keep his “win streak” alive?

For an athlete who hasn’t lost* in his signature event in more than six years and is the reigning Olympic champion and sixth-fastest man in history, Steven Gardiner still manages to fly under the radar. Though a closer look into Gardiner’s undefeated streak may reveal why that is the case.

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First of all, what Gardiner has done over the past seven years is phenomenal. He was world champ in 2019 (in 43.48, putting him #6 all-time), Olympic champ in 2021, and has clearly been the best in the world in his event when healthy. Since taking second behind Wayde van Niekerk in the 2017 World Championship final, Gardiner has won 30 straight 400m races that he has finished. Amazing.

That said, the “that he has finished” qualifier is necessary because Gardiner has dropped out of a lot of races for a 400-meter runner. Since that loss to van Niekerk, Gardiner’s Tilastopaja profile lists four DNFs. At least one of those was bad luck (Gardiner pulled up with a thigh injury while leading his semi at the 2023 Worlds and exited the track in a wheelchair), but his 2021 DNF at the USATF Open in Fort Worth looked like a case of Gardiner going out hard early and his body giving out when he was challenged in the home straight.

Gardiner also rarely races on the Diamond League circuit. Doha will be just Gardiner’s fourth Diamond League since the start of 2019. And on Friday, he’ll be up against 2023 Worlds bronze medalist Quincy Hall, 2023 world #2 Muzala Samukonga (43.91 pb), and 2024 world leader Bayapo Ndori (44.10 sb), fresh off anchoring Botswana to 4 x 400 victory at the World Relays.

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So am I picking against Gardiner?

Hell no. Gardiner may not race the big meets all that often, but when he does, he comes ready to roll. Outside of the 2022 Bahamas national champs (which Gardiner won by more than a second), he has run sub-45 in every 400m final he has run since June 2021. That includes his 2024 opener, where he ran 44.45 in Baton Rouge to easily beat Vernon Norwood (4th at ’23 Worlds) and Matt Hudson-Smith (2nd at ’23 Worlds). He’s the favorite here.

MB: Is Steven Gardiner the most underappreciated track star in history? He hasn’t lost a 400 race he’s finished since 2017

Women’s 800 (12:13 p.m. ET): Moraa’s season heats up ahead of US tour

World champion Mary Moraa of Kenya is scheduled to race Olympic champion Athing Mu of the USA twice during the next month, and both should be barnburners: first over 400 at the LA Grand Prix on May 18 (in a race that also features reigning 400 world champ Marileidy Paulino), then over their specialty 800 a week later at Pre (in a race that also features 800 silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson).

Before Moraa heads stateside, however, she’ll be stopping in Doha. While there’s no Mu or Hodgkinson here, the field is solid, with Natoya Goule-Toppin (1:55 last year), Habitam Alemu (1:57 indoors), Jemma Reekie (world indoor silver), and 2019 world champ Halimah Nakaayi all entered. But Moraa has shown over the past two years that she Mu and Hodgkinson are the only women who can touch her when she is on her game. And based on Moraa’s early-season showings (50.57 400m win at the African Games on March 20, 1:57.96 800m oepner at Kip Keino on April 20), Moraa is plenty fit enough to win in Doha.

Men’s 200 (12:23 p.m. ET): Lindsey v. Bednarek in a major matchup

There may not be a harder Olympic team to make in any event than the men’s 200m team in the United States. The US went 1-2-3 in the 200 at the 2022 Worlds in Eugene and went 1-2 at the 2023 Worlds in Budapest. But the rules say that out of Noah LylesErriyon KnightonKenny BednarekCourtney LindseyFred Kerley, and Christian Coleman, only three men can make the Olympics in the 200. It is going to be a war to earn those spots.

Bednarek (second from right) and Lindsey (far right) have started 2024 off hot (Kevin Morris photo)

Lindsey has been one of the breakout stars of 2024 in the sprints. He was very good last year — 9.89 to win the NCAA 100 title for Texas Tech, 19.85 to finish 3rd at USAs in the 200 and make it to Worlds — but has gone up a level in his first year as a pro under coach Dennis Mitchell. Lindsey ran 19.88 in his 200 opener in Gainesville on April 12, then went to Nairobi on April 20 and ran 19.71 (into a 1.5 m/s headwind) to beat Letsile Tebogo. Last week, he ran the leadoff leg for Team USA’s winning 4 x 100 at the World Relays.

Bednarek, who trains with Lindsey under Mitchell, has been in great form, too. He ran 20.35 (into a massive 2.8 wind) in his opener on April 6 and went to Kenya where he beat Ferdinand Omanyala on home soil in the 100, running 9.91 (+2.2). He also ran a great second leg for Team USA at the World Relays. His only loss came at the Tom Jones meet in Gainesville on April 13, where he ran 10.01 in the 100 and lost to reigning world champ Lyles by .005.

The two training partners Lindsey and Bednarek have yet to race each other in 2024. That will change in Doha, where they will also face 2022 Worlds 4th placer Joseph Fahnbulleh of Liberia. Look for a fast time, with the winner of the Lindsey v. Bednarek showdown gaining the inside track for the third spot on Team USA this summer behind Lyles and Erriyon Knighton.

Who wins the men's 200 in Doha?

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Women’s 1500 (12:34 p.m. ET): Expect more Ethiopian domination

Ethiopia went 1-2-3 in two Diamond League women’s 1500s last year (Rabat and Stockholm) and was even better in the 2024 season opener as Ethiopians swept the top five spots in Xiamen, led by Gudaf Tsegay‘s 3:50.30 (#3 all-time). Tsegay is not in Doha, and neither is the runner-up from Xiamen, Birke Haylom.

No matter. Worknesh Mesele (3:57 in Xiamen), Diribe Welteji (3:57 in Xiamen), and world indoor champ Freweyni Hailu are all running, as is 3:54 performer Hirut Meshesha. Odds of another Ethiopian 1-2-3 are around 50-50.

A pair of world indoor 4th placers are the best bets to break up the sweep. Jessica Hull (4th in the 3k in Glasgow) will race for the first time since winning the Aussie 1500 title on April 14. Meanwhile Brit Georgia Bell (4th in the 1500 in Glasgow) will make her DL debut a breakout indoor campaign that saw her drop her pb from 4:09 to 4:03 at age 30 while working a full-time job in cybersecurity (click here for more on Bell, who did not find success during two years at Cal but is now thriving under coach Trevor Painter).

Women’s 5,000 (12:45 p.m. ET): Beatrice Chebet looks to keep rolling

Chebet is coming off her second straight World XC title in March
(Photo by © Adam Nurkiewicz for World Athletics)

It’s crazy that someone as good as Beatrice Chebet — back-to-back World XC champ, 5k road world champ, 14:05 pb — was only the bronze medalist at last year’s World Championships. But that is how stacked this event is right now with freakish talents like Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan (not to mention Gudaf Tsegay, who was only 13th in that race).

None of the freaks are in this race, which makes Chebet the heavy favorite, though Ejgayehu Taye (14:12 pb, world 10,000 bronze) and Medina Eisa (14:16 pb, world U20 champ) should at least be able to hang around until the latter stages.

Men’s 1500 (1:08 p.m. ET): Nordas v. the Kenyans

We’re going to have to wait until Pre to see Yared NuguseJosh Kerr, and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, but there are still some talented dudes entered in Doha. Worlds bronze medalist Narve Nordas of Norway, who ran 3:34.11 in his outdoor opener in April 30, will be running along with two-time world indoor champ Samuel Tefera and 3:30 Brit Elliot Giles, who just ran 1:45.24 for 800 in his outdoor opener last week.

This is also a big race for the Kenyans as their Olympic trials are just over a month away (June 14-15). The entire Kenyan men’s 1500 team from Budapest will be competing in Doha: Timothy CheruiyotAbel Kipsang, and Reynold Cheruiyot. Timothy Cheruiyot medalled in 2017 (silver), 2019 (gold), and 2021 (silver), but he was 6th in 2022 and failed to make the final last year. Kipsang will be looking for his first global podium finish after taking 4th in 2021 and 2023, while 19-year-old Reynold Cheruiyot, the 2022 world U20 champ, may be Kenya’s future in the event. Last year, he ran 3:30 and finished 9th at Worlds and he’s the early 2024 world leader thanks to his 3:31.96 win at altitude at the Kip Keino meet.

Does Timothy Cheruiyot have anything left? Is Reynold Cheruiyot ready to surpass Kipsang? Doha will give us an idea of where things stand after none of the three raced during the indoor season.

Who wins the men's 1500 in Doha?

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Men’s 400 hurdles (1:38 p.m. ET): dos Santos debuts

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After an outstanding 2022 season that saw him win Worlds with a 46.29 pb (#3 time ever), Alison dos Santos tore his meniscus in February 2023, which meant he did not race last year until July. Because he is Alison dos Santos, he was still able to run 47.38 and finish 5th at Worlds, but if he is to beat Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin in Paris, we need to see the 2022 dos Santos again — and even that is no guarantee of gold given who he is up against.

With a healthy offseason to heal, we’ll get our first look at dos Santos over hurdles in Doha, though neither of his chief rivals will be running. Dos Santos opened his 2024 campaign by running 45.25 in his first two flat 400s of the year in Florida.

Men’s steeple (1:48 p.m. ET): Big stars missing

There’s no Soufiane El Bakkali, no Lamecha Girma (the WR holder was among the initial entries but isn’t entered anymore), not even Geordie Beamish, so the men’s steeple in Doha is down some significant starpower. Worlds bronze medalist Abraham Kibiwot and 8:05 man Getnet Wale are the main entrants, along with budding Ethiopian star Samuel Firewu (2nd in the ’23 DL final at age 19) and Olympic bronze medalist Benjamin Kigen.

Americans Mason Ferlic and Isaac Updike have also made the trip out to Doha. It would take a pb for either to earn the 8:15.00 Olympic standard, but both Ferlic and Updike are currently in position to qualify for the Olympics via their world ranking.

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