ATHLETICS Preview: Deep fields for the Stockholm Diamond League, including U.S. stars Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin

Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin (l to r) at the Mt. SAC Relays: 43.45 and 44.31!

A deep and talented line-up of veteran stars is getting ready for Thursday’s Diamond League meeting in the famed Olympic Stadium in Stockholm (SWE). It’s impossible to pick the highlight ahead of time, but the loudest cheers will likely be for Swedish discus star Daniel Stahl and the most intriguing races might be the men’s 400 m and the women’s 800 m.

Here’s what to watch for:

Men/400 m:

Almost a preview of the U.S. championships – sans the collegians, of course – with Michael Norman (43.45 this year: no. 4 ever!), Rai Benjamin (44.31), Vernon Norwood (45.29), Michael Cherry (45.52) and Nathan Strother (45.52). Add in Grenada’s Bralon Taplin (44..92) and Botswana’s Baboloki Thebe (45.34) and this could be quite a race.

Men/1,500 m:

Too many entries – 16 – but a terrific field, including Kenya’s reigning World Champion Elijah Mamangoi (3:32.21 world leader in Doha), 2018’s star, Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN/3:32.47), Doha third-placer Bethwell Birgen (KEN/3:33.12), plus Ethiopia’s indoor 1,500 world-record setter Samuel Tefera (3:31.04). Add in all three of Norway’s Ingebrigtsen brothers – Filip (3:30.01 lifetime best), Henrik (3:31.46) and Jakob (3:31.18), and this should be a fabulous fight down the home straight!

Men/10,000 m:

Now a rarely-run distance, the non-Diamond League 10,000 has a huge field of 27 entered, including U.S. 5,000 m Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo and Americans Leonard Korir (27:20.18 ’17) and Shadrack Kipchirchir (27:07.55 ‘17). The fastest lifetime best in the field belongs to Jemal Yimer Mekkonen (ETH: 26:56.11 in 2017), but who’s in shape? This should be a fast race, as everyone will be chasing the 27:40 qualifying standard for Doha!

Men/400 m hurdles:

Season openers for the reigning World Champion, Karsten Warholm (NOR) and Americans Kenny Selmon (48.12; U.S. champ in 2018) and T.J. Holmes (48.30 last year; U.S. runner-up).

Men/Pole Vault:

Most of the usual suspects are present: reigning World Champion Sam Kendricks (USA), who has cleared 5.80 m (19-0 1/4) outdoors this season; 2016 Rio champ Thiago Braz (BRA: 5.71 m/18-8 3/4) and Polish stars Piotr Lisek (5.93 m/19-5 1/2 indoors) and Pawel Wojciechowski (5.90 m/19-4 1/4 indoors).

Men/Long Jump:

The top four on the world list are in: no. 1 South Africa’s Zarck Visser (8.41 m/27-7 1/4) and no. 3 Luvo Manyonga (8.35 m/27-4 3/4) and no. 2 Jeff Henderson of the U.S. (8.38 m/27-6), plus Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle (8.30 m/27-2 3/4).


The home fans will be loud and proud for Sweden’s Daniel Stahl, the world leader at 70.56 m (231-6), who authored perhaps the greatest series in history at the Doha Diamond League meet, with all six of his throws over 69.50 m (228-0). Four of the next five best in the world this year are also entered – Ola Stunes Isene (NOR), Ehsan Hadadi (IRI), Fredrik Dacres (JAM) and Mason Finley (USA) – but the crowd won’t care.

Women/200 m:

A good test for Britain’s favored Dina Asher-Smith, who destroyed a good field in Doha in 22.26, the world leader for 2019. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (22.40), American Jenna Prandini (22.53), Ivet Lalova-Collio (BUL: 22.55) and two-time World Champion Dafne Schippers (NED/22.98 this season) will all challenge.

Women/800 m:

The first Diamond League race under the IAAF’s hydroandrogenism regulations will not have Caster Semenya (RSA), Francine Niyonsaba (BDI) or Margaret Wambui (KEN), the Rio 2016 medal winners. Now who’s no. 1? American Ajee Wilson (1:58.83) is the fastest in this field for 2019, but trailed closely by Nelly Jepkosgei (KEN/1:59.00) and American Raevn Rogers (1:59.07) among others. The winner might be the World Championships favorite.

Women/5,000 m

A rare 5,000 m race on the schedule, with Kenya’s World Cross Country Champion Hellen Obiri the clear favorite. She out-sprinted a similar field in the Doha 3,000 m, including Lilian Rengeruk (KEN/3rd in Doha), Caroline Kipkirui (KEN/5th), Gloria Kite (KEN/6th), and Yasemin Can (TUR/8th).

Women/100 m hurdles:

The world leader – and world-record holder – American Keni Harrison (12.47) is the obvious favorite, but she will get an argument from fellow U.S. star Sharika Nelvis (12.70 this year).

Women/High Jump:

Anytime the 2015 and 2017 World Champion Mariya Lasitskene (RUS) is in the field, she’s the favorite. This is her outdoor opener, but she cleared 2.04 m (6-8 1/4) indoors in February. There are four other 2.00 m jumpers competing, but look for a challenge from Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko (2.00 m/6-6 3/4 indoors), also making her outdoor debut for 2019.


Season opener for twice Olympic champ Sandra Perkovic (CRO), against the new world leader, Cuba’s Dania Caballero (68.46 m/224-7) and no. 3 Valarie Allman of the U.S., who threw 67.15 m (220-3) at Chula Vista in April. This is an excellent test for Allman, the reigning U.S. champion, against the two best throwers in the world.

Among the other, non-Diamond League events, Britain’s Laura Muir will make her outdoor debut in the 1,500 m against a good – but not scary – field.

NBCSN has coverage from Stockholm on Thursday, beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Look for results here.