Thursday, August 26, 2010

Preview – Brussels Diamond League

Friday will mark the end of the inaugural Diamond League with the Ivo van Damme meeting in Brussels. This meet will mark the second half of the “finals” that began in Zurich, with the final “Diamonds” being awarded. As in Zurich all the fields are loaded, so the events that follow are those that I expect may stand out a bit from the rest.


Men’s 100 WL: 9.78, Tyson Gay – USA Best Entry: 9.78, Tyson Gay – USA

Tyson Gay has been the dominant 100 meter sprinter this year with wins over Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell as well as the world’s fastest time on the season. His goal in Brussels is a PR – which means something faster than 9.69. However with temperatures expected to be in the mid to high 60’s a more realistic goal could be the meet record of 9.77 set by Bolt in last year’s meeting. With both Bolt and Powell now out for the rest of the season the race within the race should be between improving Jamaicans Nesta Carter and Yohan Blake for what could end up being the #2 position behind Bolt next year. With Gay showing an improved start this season and seemingly healthy, this race could be over by 50 meters. If that’s the case look for something in the neighborhood of 9.75 with the weather being more like London than ideal sprinting weather.



Women’s 200 WL: 21.98, V. Campbell Brown – JAM Best Entry: 22.02, Allyson Felix – USA

Only yearly leader Veronica Campbell Brown has beaten Allyson Felix this year – her first win over Felix that was not in the Olympic Games. With “VCB” not competing here this race is almost a “gimme” for Felix. Should she do the expected and win it will give her Diamond League trophies in both the deuce and the quarter and set up an interesting 2011 season – will she attempt the double in Daegu? If she attempts the double she will have the daunting task of facing VCB in the deuce and potentially Sanya Richards in the quarter. Potentially the biggest story of 2011. The drama here in Brussels will be whether or not she can run under 22 seconds with much of her recent focus on the 400.



Men’s 800 WL: 1:41.09, David Rudisha – KEN Best Entry: 1:41.09, David Rudisha – KEN

Rudisha has been THE standout in this event since his first race of the year, and is fresh off his WR run. Abubaker Kaki attempted to challenge Rudisha earlier in the season in Oslo only to just fall short 1:42.04 to 1:42.23 – a PR for Kaki. Since then their seasons have taken different directions. Rudisha has continued to improve his times while Kaki has reverted back to running 1:44’s. Kaki will have to be at least the runner that was in Oslo to have a chance at competing with Rudisha. This is a very important race for Kaki, as he needs to stay close and be competitive or he risks giving up a huge psychological advantage to Rudisha heading into next eyar’s World Championships. If the pace goes 50 flat or better it will most likely take at least a 1:42 to win – and the way Rudisha has been running possibly a 1:41.xx.



Women’s 800 WL: 1:57.34, Alysia Johnson – USA Best Entry: 1:57.34, Alysia Johnson – USA

Alysia Johnson has been the best on the clock, twice running under 1:58 this year. Mariya Savinova (RUS, 1:57.56) that has been the big winner this summer with the European title and wins at Znamensky, Pre and London. But it’s Janeth Jepkosgei (KEN, 1:57.84) who enters the finale with a 1 point edge over them both! This trio has the best shot at the Diamond League trophy in this event, but the bigger story here may be the entry of Caster Semenya in the field. Semenya, who has recently returned to the track, is rapidly improving with an eye on the Commonwealth Games in a bit more than a month. Given her current rate of race improvement this could be the only shot these women have of defeating the Olympic champion. Expect at least a 1:57 here as the pace should be fast to try and offset Semenya’s strength.



Men’s 400H WL: 47.32, Bershawn Jackson – USA Best Entry: 47.32, Bershawn Jackson – USA

Bershawn Jackson has dominated this event since the national championships. He’s beaten all comers, run under 48 second on 5 occasions this year, and leads the world at 47.32. Like Tyson Gay in the 100, Jackson believes he can go faster. He should get a good challenge in Brussels from Angelo Taylor who is coming off a seasons best 44.72 in the open 400 in Zurich. If his steps are on he should be able to pressure Jackson. This race should be a test of Jackson’s 15 step rhythm vs Taylor’s pure speed. So far Jackson’s rhythm has won out though they did finish within .01 in Monaco. If Taylor can surpass his season’s best 47.79 he can put some serious pressure on Jackson – either resulting in a win or a new best for Jackson.



Women’s 100H WL: 12.52, P. Lopes Sliep – CAN Best Entry: 12.52, P. Lopes Sliep – CAN

The power base in this event seems to have shifted this season. Long a staple of the US, Priscilla Lopes Sliep has become a very powerful and dominant force over the summer. And while not yet a force, Australia's Sally Pearson has emerged as a viable threat and has been very competitive of late. Both will get to take on American Lolo Jones who appeared on the verge of becoming THE dominant force just a couple of season’s ago – until she crashed the hurdle in Beijing.  Jones and Lopes Sliep are tied for the Diamond lead and this race will settle things one way or the other, but watch for Pearson to potentially win the race. The key will be the start. The woman leading over hurdle #2 should cross the line first.


This should be yet another good set of competitions with all fields being loaded. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we get some solid marks to go with the high level of competition. There should be some good stories to talk about once the final event is complete.

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