The IAAF returns to the site of the 2017 IAAF World Championships this weekend with the Muller Anniversary Games at London’s Olympic Stadium, in an unusual two-day meet in the Diamond League.
Although changes in the Diamond League programming were supposed to eliminate races of more than 3,000 m on the schedules of most of the meets, the men’s and women’s 5,000 m events might be the best of the weekend. The women’s 5,000 will pit new mile world-record holder Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands against Kenyan World Champion Hellen Obiri: they’ve met three times, with Obiri winning each time, but the last two were by less than 6/10ths of a second each time.
Very few American athletes are in action in London, with the USATF Nationals – and World Championships selection meet – coming up in Des Moines starting on the 25th. Among the better match-ups in London:
● Men/800 m: Nijel Amos (BOT), who just ran 1:41.89 in Monaco is in, so this is a must-watch race. Maybe Ferguson Rotich (1:42.54 in Monaco) has a little more in the tank at the finish this time? Is Emmanuel Korir (KEN) ready to show some of that 2018 (1:42.05) form?
● Men/5,000 m: Not a Diamond League event, but this could be great: Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet, who ran 12:54.92 in Rome (and 26:48.95 in Hengelo on Wednesday!) and Nicholas Kimeli (KEN: 12:57.90) against 19-year-old Rhonex Kipruto (KEN), who ran away during the Stockholm Diamond League and won in 26:50.16 … and hasn’t been heard from since! According to Tilastopaja.eu, Kipruto hasn’t run 5,000 on a track, ever! What does Hagos have left? What will Rhonex do?
● Men/400 m hurdles: Norway’s 2017 World Champion Karsten Warholm returns to London, now standing third on the world list for 2019 with his national record-run of 47.33 in Oslo. He will have to deal with American Amere Lattin, who ran 48.72 in the NCAAs for Houston and Kyron McMaster (IVB), who’s run 48.94 and capable of much more.
● Men/Long Jump: Any time Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echervarria (8.34 m/27-4 1/2) is in the field, it’s worth watching. He’ll have to deal with nos. 2-4-5 on the world list, including 2017 World Champion Luvo Manyonga (RSA: 8.35 m/27-4 3/4), Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.32 m/27-3 3/4) and Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle (8.30 m/27-2 3/4).
● Men/Triple Jump: America’s Olympic and World Champion Christian Taylor faces off with Portugal’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo, against whom he has a 13-7 lifetime record, including 3-0 this season. They are 2-4 on the world list, with Taylor at 17.82 m (58-5 3/4) and Pichardo at 17.47 m (57-3 3/4).
● Women/400 m: Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser has been considered the no. 2 one-lapper in the world after Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH). She beat the new star from Niger, Amina Seyni, 49.17-49.19 in Lausanne last week, but there was this crazy stat: Seyni ran the last 100 m of that race in 12.6, reportedly the fastest ever run. Can Naser hold on?
● Women/1,500 m: Britain’s Laura Muir is running, so the crowd will be in a frenzy. She’s run 3:56.73 this year, but will have a stiff challenge from Pre winner Faith Kipyegon (KEN: 3:59.04), Morocco’s Rababe Arafi (3:58.84), Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo (3:59.56) and Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye (3:59.02).
● Women/100 m hurdles: Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan (12.49 in 2019) and Danielle Williams (JAM: 12.52) have the best times in the field, but will be challenged by 2016 Rio silver winner Nia Ali of the U.S. (12.63) and Queen Claye (12.63).
● Men/Discus: The top three on the world list are in, starting with Sweden’s Daniel Stahl (71.86 m/235-9), then Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres (70.78 m/232-3) and Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger (68.14 m/223-7). Something really big could happen here …
● Women/100 m: Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has run 10.73 and 10.74 this season and Dina Asher-Smith (GBR: 10.91), Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV: 10.93) and Dafne Schippers (NED: 11.02) are going to try and get closer. No Americans in the field this week.
● Women/5,000 m: Last time we saw Dutch star Sifan Hassan, she set a world record in the mile. Now she’s in the 5,000 m in London, competing against World Champion Hellen Obiri (KEN), world leader Margaret Kipkemboi (KEN: 14:37.22) and a lot of other capable women. Is Hassan the 2019 version of Superwoman? This will be an excellent test.
● Women/Long Jump: Fascinating showdown between four-time World Champion Brittney Reese of the U.S. (6.95 m/22-9 3/4 in 2019) and world leader Malaika Mihambo (GER: 7.07 m/23-2 1/2). A World Championships preview?
There are a lot of other stars sprinkled through the other races, like 2016 Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson (JAM) in the 200 m on Saturday; and Qatari stars Aberrahmane Samba (400 m) and World Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump on Sunday.
Look for results here. There is no live TV coverage in the U.S.; NBC has the meet on its subscription-based NBC Sports Gold service both days.