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London Diamond League Preview

London may have overtaken Monaco as the premier Diamond League meet of this season. Here is what to expect at the last major meet before Rio.

Track and Field: 42nd Prefontaine Classic Kirby Lee-Press-Enterprise

The final Diamond League meet before the Rio Olympics, fittingly, takes place at the site of the most recent summer Olympics in London. As the last tuneup against elite competition for many of these athletes, this field is stacked to the extent that, in this author’s opinion, it has surpassed Monaco as this year’s “Meet to Watch.”

At Monaco, we saw strong fields in a number of events, most notably the women’s 800m, men’s 1500m, and women’s 100m, but London has World Championship quality competition in nearly every event. Fortunately, for our collective sanity, the London meet is spread over the course of two days—Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.

TV Coverage and Streaming Information

All coverage will be available through beIN Sports and beIN Sports Connect, which can be accessed with a qualified television-provider log-in. The Friday window will stretch from 3-5pm EST and Saturday will be covered live from 10am-12 noon EST. Unlike many previous meets, there does not appear to be replay coverage scheduled after the conclusion of the competition.

Schedule (All times EST)

Friday:

2:05 pm: Men’s Pole Vault

2:40 pm: Women’s 100m Hurdles Heats

2:55 pm: Women’s High Jump

(TV Window Begins)

3:05 pm: Women’s 400m

3:15 pm: Men’s 100m Heats

3:22 pm: Men’s Triple Jump

3:39 pm: Women’s 400m Hurdles

3:50 pm: Men’s 800m

3:55 pm: Men’s Javelin

4:00 pm: Men’s Mile

4:15 pm: Women’s 100m Hurdles Final

4:27 pm: Women’s 1500m

4:39 pm: Men’s 100m Final

4:52 pm: Men’s 200m

Saturday:

9:30 am: Men’s 110m Hurdles Heats

9:44 am: Women’s Pole Vault

9:49 am: Men’s 400m

(TV Window Begins)

10:00 am: Women’s Discus

10:04 am: Men’s 400m Hurdles

10:15 am: Women’s 100m Heats

10:37 am: Women’s 3000m Steeplechase

10:50 am: Men’s Long Jump

10:56 am: Men’s 110m Hurdles Final

11:00 am: Men’s Shot Put

11:04 am: Women’s 800m

11:15 am: Women’s 200m

11:26 am: Women’s 100m Final

11:36 am: Men’s 5000m

Event Previews

Men’s 800m (Friday, 3:50 pm)

After withdrawing from Monaco, Nigel Amos is back for London. If he’s in shape, he is clearly the top runner in this field, but, after an underwhelming season to this point, it’s not clear what sort of shape he’s in. He ran 1:45.11 in June at the African Championships, but his Diamond League record for the season consists of a a 1:47 performance in Rabat. If he continues to improve on that 1:45, this is his race to lose, but there are other intriguing athletes in the field if he’s more 1:45 guy than 1:41-1:43 guy.

Headlining that group are Ferguson Rotich and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who finished 4-5 at Worlds last summer and have had encouraging Diamond League seasons this year. For me, Bosse is more intiguing after running right with David Rudisha over 600m in Birmingham. Charles Jock and Erik Sowinski headline the best-of-the-rest contingent. Jock will look to prove that his placement on the U.S. Olympic team wasn’t the result of one good race in Eugene while Sowinski will try to show that he’s closer to World Indoor Medalist than non-Olympian.

Women’s 1500m (Friday, 4:27 pm)

Absent are true “Superstars” like Genzebe Dibaba and Faith Kipyegon, but there are strong medal contenders in World Indoor Champion Sifan Hassan and almost-stuck-with-a-mile-world-record-attempt Laura Muir. Hassan suffered a hamstring injury after indoors and she’s still clearly coming back from that. A strong performance in London will be important to show that she’s back enough to make a medal run in Rio. Laura Muir stuck with Faith Kipyegon’s world record mile attempt in Oslo for 1300m, but came back with a poor showing in Stockholm. She’ll too be looking to solidify her place in the medal conversation with a strong race today.

Amanda Eccleston and Morgan Uceny were the 4th and 5th place finishers earlier this month in Eugene, with the former showcasing a strong kick that nearly landed her a spot on the U.S. team. Both have had strong seasons, though at very different stages in their careers, and both represent a very outside chance at going for Rowbury’s American Record in the event, which is a testament to the depth of the U.S. at this moment in time.

Men’s 200m (Friday, 4:52 pm)

Usain Bolt is the clear headliner of this non-Diamond League field. Unlike last year, Bolt has looked strong in limited exposure in his Olympic build-up after running 9.88 back in June. He scratched from the Jamaican Olympic Trials with a hamstring tear, so health is a slightly lingering question heading into this afternoon’s race. Luckily, he won’t be facing Yohan Blake or Justin Gatlin here as the two notable entrants after Bolt are Nickel Ashmeade and Alonso Edward , neither of whom has run within a half second of Bolt’s PR. If he’s remotely healthy, he’ll win and win easily. But, that health will be the main thing to monitor this afternoon.

Women’s 800m (Saturday, 11:04 am)

If you take out the big-3 in this event that competed in Monaco last week and the 3 American Olympians, and this is just about the best field you can get. It’s headlined by Molly Ludlow and Lynsey Sharp. Both ran incredibly strong last week in Monaco with Ludlow setting a huge lifetime best of 1:57.68 while Sharp was just .04 seconds off hers at 1:57.75. This is a two-woman race with a bunch of other runners, mostly British runners, looking to spoil their party. Look for Ludlow to continue to avenge yet another disappointing near-miss at the U.S. Trials and beat Sharp for the second consecutive week.

Men’s 5000m (Saturday, 11:36 am)

We’ve now come to the race of the meet, so it’s fitting that it will serve as London’s capstone. No matter the distance, any race with Mo Farah on the line is worth our attention, and this race provides much more than Farah. Of course, Farah is the favorite, as he would be in any 5000m field comprised of living human beings, but there are plenty of others capable of at least making the process of that eventual victory a little interesting.

Bernard Lagat surprised many by making the U.S. Olympic team with a 52 second kick that blew away the best America had to offer in Eugene and it would certainly be fun to see that kick put to the test against the king of the sit-and-kick style. Three other Americans in Eric Jenkins, Ben True, and Ryan Hill will look to take out their frustrations over not making Olympic teams in a possible rebound race.

Unless it comes down to a kick between Lagat and Farah, Edwin Soi and Isiah Koech represent the best chances to push Farah in this one. Soi has the best season best in the field at 13:03 while Koech recently finished second at the Kenyan Trials. If we’re being honest, neither of them has a chance at Farah, but we feel obligated to at least talk about something to build intrigue beyond Let’s See How Farah Wins This Time. But, who are we kidding. Let’s just see how Farah wins this race.

Other Events of Note

Women’s 100m Hurdles (Heats: Friday, 2:40 pm. Final: Friday, 4:15 pm)

This is basically a rematch of the Olympic Trials. The three Americans who made the team—Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, Kristi Castlin—and American Record holder and, until one month ago, unbeatable, Kendra Harrison square off yet again. Harrison, despite not making the team, is the favorite based on the balance of her work this season. Aside from Diamond League points, she won’t gain anything beside pride from a victory this afternoon, but pride is better than nothing.

Women’s 200m (Saturday, 11:15 am)

Like the men’s 200m, the intrigue of this race lies entirely in one runner, in this case, Dafne Schippers. Schippers has looked phenomenal this season over both 100 and 200m and likely won’t face much in the way of a challenge to her place atop the Diamond League standings tomorrow morning as no one in the field has run within .45 seconds of her this season. Still, she’s a special athlete in this event and even assured a win, it’s fun to see what she can do.