The third installment of the Diamond League takes to the track tomorrow in Oslo. It will mark the beginning of a nine day period where we’ll get a blitz of three Diamond League events – Oslo, Rome and New York.
Oslo has a rich history of strong distance running and field event performances, and I don’t see that changing much tomorrow as the best matchups seem to be in those disciplines. There will be some individuals of note competing, with Asafa Powell (JAM) in the 100; Carmelita Jeter (USA) in a rare appearance over 200; Carolina Kluft (SWE) in the long jump; and local hero Andreas Thorkildsen in the javelin. But I’m looking for the most exciting matchups to occur in the the following five events.
|Men’s 800||WL: 1:43.00, David Rudisha - KEN||Best Entry: 1:43.00, David Rudisha - KEN|
Oslo gives us our first matchup this season between the two men I feel are the best half milers on the planet – David Rudisha (KEN) and Abubaker Kaki (SUD). Rudisha has been on fire all season long and appears to be ready to challenge the 1:41 zone this year. Kaki has been quiet since winning the World Indoor title earlier this year in Doha, opening up just this past weekend with a 1:45.66 victory in Hengelo. It will take much faster than that for Kaki to be close to Rudisha in Oslo. Kaki typically thrives in fast races and will have to forge one on Friday. Given Rudisha’s current state of fitness, Kaki could be the catalyst that takes him near 1:42.00. Watch the pace in the 3rd 200. If it’s fast we could see something special. This facility has seen 69 world records in it’s storied history, the best shot at one could be here, though I think it is still a tad early in the season. If the early pace goes below 50 seconds however, it could happen. At the least I expect Sebastian Coe’s meet record of 1:42.33 from 1979 to be in jeopardy.
|Men’s 5000||WL: 12:51.51, Eliud Kipchoge - KEN||Best Entry: 12:51.51, Eliud Kipchoge - KEN|
Matchup of World Leader Kipchoge – possibly the best at this distance outside of Kenenisa Bekele – and 10,000 World Leader Chris Solinsky (USA). Solisky stunned everyone with his 10,000 opener – a stunning world leading AR of 26:59.60. Oslo will be his first 5,000 of year – and is the event that has been his specialty in the past. Kipchoge will undoubtedly take the race under 13:00, which means that Solinsky will have to improve is PR considerably (13:12.24) in order to have a shot against this field. Dathan Ritzenhein set the current AR of 12:56.27 last year in Zurich. Solinsky’s 10,000 mark says he should be able to challenge that time. More important will be how well he “competes” with Kipchoge who I anticipate will be taking aim at Kenenisa Bekele’s meet record of 12:52.26. It would be nice to see Solinsky set a PR while being competitive and not just get pulled along in a fast race.
|Men’s PV||WL: 19’ 4.75”, Steven Hooker - AUS||Best Entry: 19” 4.75”, Steven Hooker - AUS|
Hooker has vaulted well the last couple of seasons and has looked like he may be capable of jumping 20 ft having gone 19’ 8.25” in ‘08. He didn’t look good in his last competition in Doha, however, making it over the bar at only 18’ 0.5” and finishing 6th. American Derek Miles, on the other hand, is fresh off a season’s best vault of 19’ 0.75” this past weekend in Sacramento. The only two vaulters over 19 ft so far this year should give us a battle somewhere in the stratosphere near 19’ 6”. Hooker will need to get near there if he wants to vault 20 ft this year, and Miles looked like he was capable of hitting that mark this past weekend. This is a good vaulting venue having produced a 19’ 8.25” vault for Tim Lobinger back in 1999.
|Men’s SP||WL: 72’ 6.25”, Cory Martin - USA||Best Entry: 71’ 7.25”, Christian Cantwell - USA|
For several years the US has had a “Big 3” in the shot put of Adam Nelson, Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa. Reigning World Champion Cantwell has kept up his end of the bargain so far this year as he enters Oslo with the third best mark in the world. Hoffa, on the other hand, has only managed 69’ 4.25’ so far, and Nelson has yet to throw outdoors. All three have to be thinking about two US youngsters that are making serious inroads into their territory, as current world leader Cory Martin and #2 Ryan Whiting (71’ 7.5”), hit huge marks in the month of May – which should add a little extra incentive to what is already a good rivalry. Expect several throws over 70 ft in this competition. Cantwell is riding a 12 meet win streak and his confidence is high, if the others can pressure him he should challenge Martin’s world leader, or at least the meet record of 72’ 3.5”
|Women’s HJ||WL: 6’ 8.25”, Chaunte Lowe - USA||Best Entry: 6’ 8.25” Chaunte Lowe - USA|
Howard-Lowe doesn’t get much time to enjoy her AR and world leader as she gets to go head to head against reigning World Champion Blanka Vlasic (CRO). Vlasic has an outdoor PR of 6’ 9.75” and went 6’ 9” indoors earlier this season. She’s been on a roll for the past four years, and seems to thrive on competition. Howard-Lowe had an awesome series in Cottbus and has been consistent so far this season – jumping at least 6’ 6” in each of her last four outings. I expect Vlasic will want to show that she is still the queen while Lowe will want to prove she’s for real. This could be the best competition of the meet and they could finally give Oslo a new meet record. The current record of 6’ 8.75” having been set by Stefka Kostadinova way back in 1987!