Thursday, August 19, 2010

Preview – Zurich Diamond League

The Weltklasse has been one of the world’s most elite competitions as far back as I can remember – and that’s a long time! Often called, “The Olympics in a Day”, the Weltklasse (Zurich) is known for some of the best field’s every year even before the Diamond League, or Golden League, came along. This year’s version will be no exception. Especially given that those in competition to become Diamond League champions in their events must compete in order to be eligible.

With that being the case every event will be loaded and the competition fierce. However there are a few events that should stand out a bit from the rest:


Men’s 200 WL: 19.56, Usain Bolt – JAM Best Entry: 19.78, Yohan Blake – JAM

There will be no Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay with Bolt calling an end to his 200 season over a month ago, and Gay scheduled only for relay duty in Zurich. Nor will we see Walter Dix who narrowly defeated Gay in Gay’s injury comeback race in Eugene. Still this race is an important one when it comes to the men’s sprints. In his only 200 this season, Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, dropped his PR from 20.60 all the way to 19.78. Since then he’s improved his 100 PR as well (from 9.95 to 9.89). In Zurich he will face veteran Wallace Spearmon – 19.93/19.77w this season and a life time best of 19.65. With Gay and Bolt figuring to battle it out for the gold medal in Daegu, Zurich could go a long way towards telling us who could be in line for the bronze medal.


Women’s Javelin WL: 226’, Mariya Abakumova – RUS Best Entry: 226’, Mariya Abakumova – RUS

The world leader is in the field, but this event has become a battle between Olympic champion Barboa Spotakova (CZE) and new AR holder Kara Patterson (US). Spotakova is reported to be nursing a sore elbow. Patterson has been hot since winning the national championship and heading to Europe. Spotakova is leading the Diamond race, but Patterson still has a chance to win it all here. More importantly, Patterson has shown this summer that she is a legitimate medal threat in this event – an event that has become one of the few American bright spots on the field.


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

If there’s a track that cold be favorable for a hurdle record, Zurich could be the place. Three times the WR has been set in Zurich – Martin Laurer (13.56, 1959), Renaldo Nehemiah (12.93, 1981) and Roger Kingdom (12.92, 1989). And five times athletes have run under 13.00 here – Zurich has been kind to hurdlers. The weather forecast for Thursday in Zurich is sunshine and highs around 73 degrees. A solid run by David Oliver and we could see our third AR in the event this season – and a lowering of the WR. Oliver’s season has been well documented. He’s had no peers this year and is a leader for the Athlete of the Year crown this year in my opinion. This race could be the one to solidify that title.


Women’s 1500 WL: 3:57.65, Anna Alminova – RUS Best Entry: 3:57.65, Anna Alminova – RUS 

Simply put this is the deepest women’s 1500 of the year. Savinova, Burka, Langat, Dobriskey, Lakhouad, Jamal and Americans Wurth Thomas, Pierce and Rowbury. All are present and accounted for, making this somewhat of a preview of Daegu. Obviously we have a year to go and a lot can happen in a year, but most of the principle contenders in Daegu will be circling the track in Zurich. Giving US forces a chance to see just how close we are and where we need to improve to get on the podium. Alminova has been the Alpha Female this season, and the rest of the field will be chasing after her. I would love to see one of the Americans slip into that top three – or at least be in smelling distance. I think that will happen.



Men’s 5000 WL: 12:51.21, Eliud Kipchoge – KEN Best Entry: 12:51.21, Eliud Kipchoge – KEN

Another loaded event with all the top athletes on the clock in town to have a go. This includes the year’s top 6 on the clock – Kenyan’s Kipchoge, Chepkok and Kiptoo, and Ethiopian’s Gebremeskel, Merga, and Bekele (Tariku). More importantly American’s Chris Solinsky and Galen Rupp will have another chance to prove their position among the world’s best. Solinsky has had an awesome season – perhaps the best ever on the clock for an American – setting an AR in the 10,000 meters and becoming #2 all time in the 5000. In Stockholm he ran with the Africans right up until the kicking began in earnest in the final 200 – the one area where he still needs a bit of work. Rupp will be looking to improve on his PR 13:10.05 and possibly join the sub 13:00 club. This race should give us an idea how close we’re coming to being competitors in the distance events.



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

Dunn took over the world lead with her US nationals win. Since then she’s run under 50 seconds again in Lausanne. Russia’s Tatyana Firova and Kseniya Ustalova became #2 and #3 on the yearly list when they took gold and silver at the European championships and ran sub 50. Neither, however, was able to overcome Allyson Felix last week in London. THAT will be the task in Zurich as Felix is attempting to win double diamonds this year – in the 200 and 400. Felix has always shown potential in the 400 and sports a 49.70 PR to prove it. She showed just how strong she is in London as she held off the late race challenges of Dunn and Firova with relative ease. Another win against the stacked  Zurich field – which also includes Jamaica’s Williams-Mills and Williams as well as Montsho of Botswana and Russia’s Antonina Krivoshapka – would send a message to the world that she just might be ready to take on a 200/400 double in Daegu.


The Weltklasse is as deep as ever this year, and the usually fast track will be accompanied by decent weather – a recipe for both outstanding competition and great results. This should be one of the best editions of the meet ever.

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