After a month-long break, the Diamond League returns this afternoon for what has always been the hottest meet of the circuit—the Herculis meet in Monaco. Every year, this meet produces some of the fastest times (including world records) that we see. Take last year, for instance, where Genzebe Dibaba set a new World Record and Shannon Rowbury also improved the American Record in the 1500m. There’s no Dibaba (or Rowbury) this year, but it still figures to be a spicy meet.
Unlike other Diamond League meets that feature seemingly endless local or youth races, Monaco only has one race—the men’s 800—that isn’t an official Diamond League competition that counts toward the overall standings. Even that men’s 800 has 3 runners who have broken 1:44 this season and four more who are under 1:45, so even that one “blemish” on the Monaco schedule is hardly a light field. We’re likely in for another exciting year in Monaco.
Schedule and Broadcast Info
By now you know that the Diamond League has partnered with beIN Sports and beIN Sports Connect to provide live coverage of all their races. Monaco will air live on those networks from 2-4pm EST this afternoon and will be re-aired later in the evening from 8-10pm for those of us with traditional daytime work obligations.
12:30pm: Women’s Shotput
1:24pm: Men’s Long Jump
1:27pm: Men’s Discus
1:45pm: Women’s Pole Vault
(TV Window Begins)
2:05pm: Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:10pm: Men’s High Jump
2:15pm: Men’s 800m
2:25pm: Men’s 400m
2:35pm: Men’s 1500m
2:45pm: Women’s 100m
2:55pm: Women’s 3000m
3:00pm: Women’s Javelin
3:05pm: Women’s Triple Jump
3:10pm: Men’s 110m Hurdles
3:20pm: Women’s 800m
3:35pm: Men’s 200m
3:45pm: Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
Men’s 1500m (2:35pm)
Notable Entrants: Bethwell Birgen, Abdelaati Iguider, Elijah Manangoi, Tauofik Makhloufi, Mo Farah, Asbel Kiprop
Just last year, Asbel Kiprop ran the third fastest 1500m time in history (3:26.69) at this meet and he’s back again to headline the field, as he does at nearly every Diamond League meet. He’s indicated that, although he is not focused on setting a new world record, he is interested in running fast. Kiprop has been doing a lot of front running this year which, although it would annoy the hell out of the Without Limits version of Bill Bowerman, has led to some fast times and, given the history of this event in Monaco, could do that again.
If Kiprop wants to win Monaco, he’ll likely have to run fast to beat the talent assembled around him. Manangoi has been second to Kiprop throughout the year, but the addition of Iguider and Makhloufi (who ran 1:43 in the 800 last week) should force Kiprop to run fast. There’s also this other guy called Mo Farah, who you might have heard of. The 1500 is a short distance for him, but he did run 3:28 in this race last year, so he’s far from a fish out of water down here. He also isn’t exactly in the habit of losing races.
Prediction: Kiprop wins again and doesn’t set the world record. But, the field around him pushes him to run fast (sub 3:28) again and he’ll flirt with improving his PR from last year depending on how much he lets up over the last 100 meters.
Women’s 100m (2:45pm)
Notable Entrants: Veronica Campbell-Brown, Dafne Schippers, Tianna Bartoletta
In VCB, Schippers, and Bartoletta, we could well be looking at the 100m podium in Rio next month. Schippers has been electric this year, especially in Oslo where she ran 21.93 in wet and cold conditions. With Bartoletta and VCB, Schippers finds herself at a bit of a disadvantage in this field over 100m, but it will be interesting to see what she can do against this caliber of competition at the shorter distance.
Prediction: Schippers and Bartoletta battle it out for the first spot, with Schippers pulling away over the final meters. VCB finishes comfortably in third.
Women’s 3000m (2:55pm)
Notable Entrants: Mercy Cherono, Helen Obiri, Katie Mackey, Janet Kisa, Dera Dida
With Cherono and Obiri, this field brings frontline talent to make up for its overall lack of depth. They should be alone up at the front of this race. For American fans, Katie Mackey looked strong at the U.S. Trials, finishing 6th in the 5000m last week and just missed out on a spot on the Olympic team. She won’t be a factor at the front here, but she’ll look to carry some positive momentum from last week.
Prediction: Back to the front, Obiri is, simply put, a stronger runner than Cherono. She has better PRs in every event from the 800 to the 5k, and for the purposes of this preview, it is relevant that 3000m falls right in the middle of that window of dominance. Earlier this month, Obiri beat Cherono by over 12 seconds in the Kenyan Olympic Trials for the 5000m. This is Obiri’s race to lose.
Women’s 800m (3:20 pm)
Notable Entrants: Lynsey Sharp, Margaret Wambui, Eunice Sum, Molly Ludlow, Francine Niyonsaba, Caster Semenya
Semenya, Niyonsaba, and Wambui are the only three women to break 1:58 this season and they are all in the field, making this, arguably, the fastest women’s 800m ever assembled. The winning time in this race will be interesting to see as it has never really felt that Semenya has been pushed that hard this season. She’s sat for 600-700 meters before destroying her competition in the final stretch. Even if she continues to employ that tactic this afternoon, Wambui and Niyonsaba are good enough to push her to the sort of time that has the potential to open a lot of eyes. The world record of 1:53.28 set in 1980 may be out of the question, but a time in the range of 1:54 certainly isn’t. We had been waiting until Rio to see what the ceiling truly is for these three women and we might be getting our answer a month early today.
Elsewhere in the field, Molly Ludlow will look to rebound after another narrow miss at the Olympic Trials where she got caught up in the carnage that took down Alysia Montano and Brenda Martinez and wasn’t quite able to recover to nab a spot on the team. Eunice Sum will look to build on the momentum she has with a second place finish at the Kenyan trials after a disappointing showing early in the Diamond League Circuit.
Prediction: Semenya is forced into showing us how truly dominant she is in the world and runs a sub-1:55 time to hold off Wambui and Niyonsaba, who both finish behind her in 1:56 or so. This is easily the event of the meet—even with the men’s 1500m being what it is—and it won’t disappoint.
Men’s 3000m Steeplechase (3:45pm)
Notable Entrants: Conseslus Kipruto, Paul Koech, Abraham Kibiwott, Andy Bayer
Conseslus Kipruto has made the Diamond League his play-thing this year. He’s undefeated in four attempts and has set a new world lead with each new victory. Still, he has not broken the elusive 8:00 barrier and currently sits at 8:00.12 for his best. There are challengers here in Koech and Kibiwott, but they have been challengers before and haven’t come particularly close to, you know, actually mounting a legitimate challenge to Kipruto’s throne. That trend will continue today.
Andy Bayer will look to bounce back from a disappointing 4th place finish at the Olympic Trials in Eugene. In this field, he can’t hope for anything higher than a 4th place finish, but a time around 8:20 and a spot in the 4th-7th range would be a solid performance for him.
Prediction: Kipruto wins this running away and finally dips under 8:00. He’s been on pace previously in Rabat and Birmingham before either slowing down and/or celebrating before the finish to miss the milestone. A month of additional fitness will be what he needs to pull that off, and he will.