The Diamond League seems to be out of it’s doldrums. I mean does anyone really remember Doha, Shanghai, or even Oslo? Yes these meets had their sprinkling of stars, but, as even the Diamond League itself is proving, it’s matchups that truly drive this sport. And now that we are getting some serious head to head confrontations, things are spicing up a bit more and Paris will provide us with some very nice head to heads tomorrow.
|Men’s 100||WL: 9.82, Asafa Powell – JAM |
9.82, Usain Bolt - JAM
|Best Entry: 9.82, Asafa Powell – JAM|
9.82, Usain Bolt - JAM
Last week’s 100 in Gateshead, gave us our first match up among the Big 3, with Tyson Gay taking the decision over Powell. Powell gets to take another shot at victory as he goes up against countryman and WR holder Usain Bolt. Bolt, like Gay, is coming off injury. In their early absence, Powell had been running roughshod over the competition. After the loss to Gay he will be looking to get back on track against Bolt, who equaled Powell’s world leader in his return to the 100 in Lausanne last week. The field will be better than most with newcomer to the sub10 club Christophe Lematrie (FRA) looking to battle with Yohan Blake (JAM), Daniel Bailey (ANT), and Richard Thompson (TRI) for the title of “Best of the Rest”. Because make no mistake, this race is about Powell v Bolt as once again the lightning starting Powell takes on a strong finisher in Bolt. With Bolt being a better starter than Gay I don’t expect to see Powell nearly as much at 30 meters. Which means that I don’t expect Bolt to win by as slight a margin as Gay did in Gateshead. The “race within the race” also bears watching with Thompson trying to get back to Olympic form (silver ‘08) and youngsters Lematrie and Blake trying to climb up the food chain.After watching his last two races (9.98 & 20.16) expect another sub10 from Lematrie.
|Women’s 1500||WL: 3:59.28, Gelete Burka - ETH||Best Entry: 3:59.28, Gelete Burka - ETH|
This is a very deep field with world leader Burka, Russian Anna Alminova, Brit Lisa Dobrinski, Kenyan Nancy Lagat, and Americans Shannon Rowbury, Kristin Wurth Thomas, and Anna Pierce. Burka’s my favorite to win, she can run off any pace, and is tough as nails. I’m curious, however, to see how the American’s handle the pace. Pierce’s training partner Morgan Uceny has been running up front with the leaders in her recent races. It would be nice to see this trio follow suit in what should be a very hot race! Burka’s blistering finish ran down both Dobrinski and Lagat in Lausanne – so everyone should be focused on getting out away from her before the bell lap. Expect Alminova, Dobrinski and Lagat to put the hammer down by 800. Pierce and Wurth Thomas have both been running the 800 lately so hopefully their speed will be sharp and they will keep pace – especially Wurth Thomas who loves to push the pace herself. Burka should win, but the American’s should be competitive. Expect a very competitive and exciting final lap with this field.
|Men’s 800||WL: 1:41.52, David Rudisha - KEN||Best Entry: 1:42.23, Abubaker Kaki - SUD|
In Oslo Abubaker Kaki ran just off of David Rudisha while setting a new PR and season’s best of 1:42.23 behind the Kenyan’s 1:42.04. This past weekend, Rudisha upped the stakes with his world leading bomb. If Kaki hopes to have a shot at Rudisha in the future, he too will have to get under that 1:42 barrier. Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (RSA) should provide some assistance in Paris. He ran 1:42.86 in last year’s Rieti race (won by Rudisha in 1:42.01) and he likes to drive a hard pace – something that will be needed to get anywhere near 1:42. Also in the field are American’s Khadevis Robinson, Nick Symmonds and Andrew Wheating. This race represents an opportunity for all to get in range and compete with the rest of the world. Robinson (1:43.68) and Symmonds (1:43.83) have PR’s that are close but not quite. While Wheating (1:45.03) still has a ways to go. The plus for Wheating is that he is young and has the most upside of this group. And having just dropped his mile best down to 3:51.74 indicates he may be ready to surpass these two. That will be the race within the race. As Kaki tries to battle Mulaudzi and get close to 1:42, can Wheating outrun his countrymen and get down near 1:43? If I’m betting I say he can. Kaki wins in 1:42 mid, with Wheating getting under 1:44.5.
|Women’s HJ||WL: 6’ 8.75”, Chaunte Lowe - USA||Best Entry: 6’ 8.75”, Chaunte Lowe - USA|
One of the sport’s best budding rivalries will be on tap in Paris as world leader Lowe takes on venerable Blanka Vlasic of Croatia. These two have clearly put themselves ahead of the rest of the field and are now battling each other to become queen of the event. So far their confrontations have been decided on fewer misses, even though Lowe has appeared to be the better of the two jumpers. Such is the will of Vlasic that she just refuses to give way. Which is why I expect these two to push each other close to the WR in this event at some point this year. Both have shown on various jumps that they are indeed capable of such a height. Judging from pervious competitions I am going to say that it will take 6’ 9” to win in Paris – as both have been jumping very well.
|Men’s TJ||WL: 59’ 0”, Teddy Tamgho - FRA||Best Entry: 59’ 0”, Teddy Tamgho - FRA|
The Triple Jump is perhaps the most loaded event of the meet with six of the year’s top seven jumpers in attendance – headlined by Mr. “Fifty Nine Feet”, Teddy Tamgho of France. Qualifying this event as a true “summit” meeting among the world’s triple jumpers. Only Christian Olsson (SWE), currently 5th on the lists, is missing among the world’s leaders. Tamgho is the headliner however, as he has jumped much better than his competition so far this season. What I’m looking for here is that with a field this deep, at least one or two others should step up into the 58 foot range. And hopefully if that occurs there may be enough pressure on Tamgho early to get him to unleash something beyond his current best. He needs to go beyond 59’ 4” to take the #2 spot all time held by Kenny Harrison of the US. Paris would be a nice place for this Frenchman to do something special.
Paris should be an outstanding meet. In addition to the above match ups, we will get to see Allyson Felix in her first 200 since New York where she opened up in 22.03, just losing to Veronica Campbell Brown’s 21.98. Since then she’s won the national title at 100 and beat world leader Debbie Dunn over 400. We could see her run a sub22 of her own on Friday. I will also be looking for further improvement from Jeremy Wariner in the 400. He took the world lead with his 44.57 in Lausanne and looked like the quarter miler that many remember from the mid to late 2000’s. The man that he replaced as WL, Greg Nixon (44.61), will be in the field seting up a nice little head to head. And also look for another sizzling flight of hurdles from David Oliver. He was scheduled to take on Dayron Robles in Paris, but Robles has since pulled from the meet citing the need to recover from his 13.01 effort in Lausanne. Oliver has been on a roll, however, and could possibly get under 12.90 in Paris. Ironically the meet record is 12.88 run by Robles in 2008. So perhaps we will see a new meet record by Oliver – which would mean a tie or new WR.
The meet should be exciting. One of those that you won’t want to miss!