The second meet--they call them meetings, which I never really quite understood or got on board with outside of attempts to sound British--of the 2016 Diamond League takes place tomorrow--or today depending on your location--in Shanghai. What this means for those of us residing in the United States is that it will take place at an incredibly inconvenient time, namely, incredibly early on a Saturday morning.
How to Watch
Speaking of inconvenience, try to watch this meet. The TV broadcast kicks in at 7am EST with the men's 400m hurdles and high jump. In the US, it is on BeIN Sports which is a channel you probably don't have. I long for the day when NBCSN starts picking up any and all major running events. In Europe, it will be on Eurovision. Good luck with all that!
Schedule of Events
The first two hours (from 4:55 am EST to 6:50 am) will be dedicated to local and non-Diamond League competition. It won't be televised, but, unless you have a friend or relative racing, you likely won't miss out on anything of intrigue. The real action starts at 6:55 am.
(All times EST)
6:55 - Men's High Jump
7:04 - Men's 400m Hurdles
7:12 - Women's 1500m
7:25 - Men's 100m
7:35 - Women's 400m
7:40 - Men's Long Jump
7:43 - Men's 800m
7:52 - Women's 3000m Steeplechase
7:55 - Men's Javelin
8:11 - Women's 200m
8:20 - Men's 5000m
8:44 - Men's 110m Hurdles
8:54 - Men's 4x100m Relay
Women's 1500m - Faith Kipyegon, Jenny Simpson, Dawit Seyaum, Gudaf Tsegay, Hellen Obiri
If you pretend for a minute that Genzebe Dibaba and Sifan Hassan don't exist, this is close to the strongest field one could realistically assemble in the 1500. Seyaum and Tsegay are coming of medal performances at the World Indoor Championships. Kipyegon came in second at the World Championships in Beijing last summer. Jenny Simpson is the top American 1500m runner, unless you think it's Shannon Rowbury. The real mystery in this field is Hellen Obiri who is returning to the track after taking a season off to have a child. Prior to her absence, she was one of the best 1500m runners in the world. In 2014, she beat Dibaba, Hassan, Almaz Ayana, Kipyegon, and Simpson on the track. We don't know what to expect in her first major competition back, but she has as good a chance as anyone to be in contention here.
As far as how this race might play out, the safe prediction has some order of Kipyegon, Seyaum and Tsegay in the top three. They've each proven to be a tier above Simpson and a year off for Obiri presents too many questions for her to resemble anything like a safe bet. But they're not far enough above Simpson for the American to not have a chance at a top-3 finish and Obiri is too talented (and still only 26) to rule out.
Men's 100m - Justin Gatlin
Gatlin isn't the only notable sprinter in the field, but he is by far the most exciting and intriguing one so it makes perfect sense to ignore the others. He's, of course, coming off a 2015 outdoors that ended in two disappointing second place finishes to Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200m. At 34 years old, he'll be racing against time in addition to Bolt heading into Rio. We'll find out a bit about that tomorrow/today as he finds himself in a field with four other runners--Michael Rodgers, Femi Ogunode, Kim Collins, and Isiah Young--who have run under 10 in their careers.
Men's 800m - David Rudisha, Ferguson Rotich, Erik Sowinski, Nick Symmonds, Robert Biwott, Antoine Gakeme, Alfred Kipketer
You can't really pick against David Rudisha ever, even in a field as loaded as this one. Fortunately for everyone else, he's aged to a place where the gap is such that it isn't entirely unthinkable for him to be defeated. Because this is a Diamond League race and not a championship race, Symmonds' kick likely won't be the weapon that makes him a possible Rudisha defeater. That honor likely goes to a trio of other Kenyans in this race. Rotich was 4th outdoors in Beijing and has beaten Rudisha before (2015 Kenyan Trials). But, Rotich is probably more suited for the 1500 and it is reasonable to question how much he's worked on his speed for the 800 this early in an Olympic cycle. Presumably not enough to beat Rudisha.
Women's Steeplechase - Hiyvin Kiyeng, Virginia Nyambura, Sofia Assefa, Hiwot Ayalew, Purity Kirui
Globally over the past decade or so, there has been a tremendous amount of parity in the women's steeplechase as no one can seem to claim the throne for any extended amount of time. They either get eaten by a boar, beheaded by a product of incest, or poisoned by a pedophiliac whorehouse proprietor. That history is why we can't buy into world champion Kiyeng, Diamond League champion Byambura, or perennially very good Ayalew. I listed some other names above as notable entrants, but it entirely possible that I left off tomorrow's winner. Such is the nature of this event.
Men's 5000m - Yomif Kejelcha, Hagos Gebrhiwet, Thomas Longosiwa, Edwin Soi, Dejen Gebremeskel
If you know what to make of this field, send me an email and a writing sample. It's a stacked field, but I'm finding it difficult to develop strong opinions about the order of finish among the top six or eight runners. My best guess is to succumb to recency bias and go with Kejelcha (world indoor 3k champion) and Gebremeskel (indoor 3k world leader) as the two favorites. However, it's easy enough to talk myself into Gebrhiwet (only 22 and already a two-time medalist in the 5k), Choge (3rd in the indoor 3k), or any of Longosiwa, Soi, Choge, Muktar Edris, and Albert Rop. Only time will tell.
Other Notable Events
Men's Pole Vault - Renaud Lavillenie, Shawn Barber, Konstantinos Filippides, Sam Kendricks, Piotr Lisek
Men's 400m Hurdles - Keron Clement, Nicholas Bett, Michael Tinsley, Javier Culson, Lj Van Zyl
Women's 400m - Noviene Williams-Mills, Shaunae Miller, Natasha Hastings, Stephanie Ann McPherson, Shericka Jackson
Men's 110m Hurdles - Omar Mcleod, Aries Merrit, Hansel Parchment, David Oliver, Orlando Ortega, Jason Richardson