Thursday, August 12, 2010

Preview – London Diamond League

Well, we’re rounding the final turn on this season, with three meets left in the inaugural Diamond League season. On tap will be the biggest of the DL meets as London will contest all of the events on the slate over the course of two days – the only DL meet to do so. While it won’t be held in the upcoming Olympic stadium, it will take place in the city that will play host to the Games, giving those competing an idea of what the weather could be like come 2012. As I check the weather reports, the prediction for the upcoming two days is temperatures in the mid to high 60’s with chances of rain and thundershowers.

We will see how this affects the competition. For my money there are some events that should be outstanding regardless of the weather. Following are my events to keep an eye on in London.


Men’s 100 WL: 9.82, Asafa Powell – JAM
       9.82, Usain Bolt – JAM
Best Entry: 9.84, Tyson Gay – USA

This was supposed to be the second seasonal match up between Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay. Powell pulled from the meet earlier this week with continuing spine problems. This race should still be HOT however with the recent improvement of Yohan Blake and Walter Dix. Dix recovered from a horrible start last week to record a PR 9.88 in Nottwil, and earlier in Eugene gave Tyson Gay his only loss of the season with a 19.72 200. When Blake last saw Gay in Monaco, he finished second with a huge 19.78 200 PR. Both young men are hot and apparently not afraid of Tyson Gay. And Tyson, as we know, is fearless. Sounds like the recipe for an exciting and very fast 100. Tyson’s start was improved in Stockholm, which could mean trouble for the rest of the field. With these three running well, look for a new yearly leader to be put up barring rain.


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

This is becoming one of my favorite events as the top women bring it every time out. We get to see Alysia Johnson take to the track as the favorite off her recent times – twice under 1:58 in July. She will face Russia’s Mariya Savinova (1:57.56) and Kenya’s Janeth Jepkoskei (1:57.84), this season’s other two sub 1:58 performers, and two women who, like Johnson, love to run from the front. Hot on their heels should be Morgan Uceny (USA), Jemma Simpson (GBR), Jenny Meadows (GBR), Yvonne Hak (NED) and Anna Pierce (USA) all of whom have run in the 1:58’s. A very deep field indeed. The race should be between Johnson, Ssvinova and Jepkosjei as they will put the pressure on early. Savinova has 1500 strength so is a slight favorite for my money, but Johnson has looked VERY good in her last couple of races – this will be a real test for her. And keep an eye on Uceny and Pierce. Both have been improving a lot late in the season and have the heart to stick their noses in their before the race gets away from them.


Men’s 110H WL: 12.89, David Oliver – USA Best Entry: 12.89, David Oliver – USA

Oliver has been in outstanding shape this year, and with times of 12.99, 12.93, 12.90, 12.89 has been running superbly. His main competition, WR holder Dayron Robles (CUB) has withdrawn due to injury. While it appears that we may not see the two face off on the track the rest of this year, it’s quite possible that we may see a new WR holder before the season is out. I’m so hoping that the weather holds up and gives this man a dry track to run on. Ryan Wilson (USA) and Ronnie Ash (USA) have been running well this year and will keep Oliver focused. But if we can see a decent start and no hit hurdles early, buckle up and enjoy the ride!


Women’s 400 WL: 49.64, Debbie Dunn – USA Best Entry: 49.64, Debbie Dunn – USA

The #1 (Debbie Dunn, USA) and #2 (Tatyana Firova, RUS) women on the yearly list went head to head in Stockholm with European champion Firova coming away with the victory. This week they meet again, with three time World 200 champion Allyson Felix in the race. Felix has been talking about trying a 200/400 double in the future, and with a 49.70 PR is certainly capable. She’s run 50.15 this year and sits at #8 on this year’s list. She will be the best finisher in the field and Dunn, Firova and the rest will be trying to get away from her kick. Both Dunn and Firova have been taking care of business between 250 and 300 meters. If they can separate from Felix coming off the final turn the race should be between the two of them. If not, Felix should bury them down the final straight. If anyone falters, Novlene Williams Mills (JAM), Sherika Williams (JAM), and Amantle Montsho ( BOT) will be right there waiting to pounce. My heart says Felix wins this, but it should be a close and exciting race.


Men’s 400 WL: 44.40, Jermaine Gonzales – JAM Best Entry: 44.40, Jermaine Gonzales – JAM

Former World and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner (USA) has been having a come back season of sorts. After a couple of down seasons and injuries he has been slowly making his way back to the top of the heap. He will enter this meet #2 on the yearly list behind the rapidly improving Jermaine Gonzales (JAM). Gonzales and countryman Ricardo Chambers went 1, 2 and set personal records in Monaco in Wariner’s absence.  In London they will get to test themselves against a man that once was in site of the world record – and who would like to get back there. The third 100 of this race will be the key. It’s where Wariner has always put his competition away – and where Gonzales and company will have to keep pace if they hope to have a shot at winning this race. Wariner has looked to be back in rhythm in his last couple of races – not a good sign for the competition. My gut says he runs around 44.20 in London, which means that anyone else that hopes to win better be ready to PR.


With two days and a full complement of events, there are far too many great events to detail each one. However I must say that the field events are LOADED. The men’s shot put will have Christian Cantwell and all the usual suspects – Nelson, Whiting, Taylor, Martin, Hoffa and Majewski. The women’s javelin will find itself with six of the world’s seven longest throwers, including Olympic champion Barboa Spotakova (CZE) and new AR holder Kara Patterson. While the men’s javelin pits rivals Tero Pitkamaki (FIN) against Andreas Thokildsen (NOR). The triple jump will find Teddy Tamgho (FRA) going against European championships conqueror Phillips Idowu (GBR).  And in one of the Diamond League’s closest Diamond competitions the men’s long jump has Diamond Leader Dwight Philliips (USA, 12 pts) going head to head with Fabrice Lapierre (AUS, 11 pts) in a battle that could eventually determine the Diamond League winner of this event.

The Diamond League has had its ups and downs but appears to be closing with a mad rush. There shouldn’t be a down event – just proving how exciting a FULL track meet can be. Get your snacks together and get ready for two days of high level track and field. This should be fun. 

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