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Brussels Diamond League Preview

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Multiple world record attempts are in store for the final Diamond League meeting of the 2016 circuit.

Athletics - Olympics: Day 14 Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

We’re finally here. Today’s meet in Brussels marks the final Diamond League race this season. Despite the fact that athletes are now weeks removed from their peak fitness at the Olympics, there will be multiple world record attempts in Brussels with Almaz Ayana going after the 5k world record (again) and Conseslus Kipruto going for the the record in the steeplechase.

It’s also the final meet of the season, so we’re going to see some weird stuff. Notably, Nicholas Kipkoech will be racing 600m against a solar-powered car in the Man Against Machine portion of the competition. Though the car can reach speeds of up to 68 mph, it takes long enough to warm up that race officials believe 600m gives Kipkoech a chance to hold off the vehicle. It will not be televised live, but at least one person is hoping a replay of the event is shown during the broadcast.

TV Information

If you’ve been following the Diamond League all season, you know the deal. BeIN Sports will have the meet live during the typical broadcast window of 2-4pm EST. Coverage is also available through BeIN Sports Connect with a cable log-in if you do not have access to a television.

Schedule (All Times EST)

Thursday

11:00am—Women’s Shotput

Friday

11:30am—Women’s Javelin

12:50pm—Men’s Discus

1:08pm—Women’s Triple Jump

1:15pm—600m Man Against Machine

1:38pm—Women’s Pole Vault

1:45pm—Men’s High Jump

(TV Window Begins)

2:04pm—Women’s 400m Hurdles

2:13pm—Women’s 100m

2:22pm—Women’s 400m

2:33pm—Men’s 110m Hurdles

2:40pm—Women’s 5000m

2:45pm—Women’s High Jump

3:15pm—Men’s 1500m

3:23pm—Men’s 200m

3:30pm—Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

3:45pm—Men’s 800m

Event Previews

Women’s 400m (2:22pm)

Notable Athletes: Castor Semenya, Shericka Jackson, Stephanie Ann McPherson, Natasha Hastings, Courtney Okolo

This is a pretty good field, but all eyes will be on Castor Semenya, who only enters with the sixth-fastest time in the field. Her personal best time of 50.74 came on the front end of a 400-800-1500m triple at the South African Championships. She won that race by nearly three seconds, so it is still an open question of how fast she can actually go. Can she break 50 in Brussels? How about that 47.60 world record? Nothing really seems impossible for Semenya.

Women’s 5000m (2:40pm)

Notable Athletes: Viola Kibiwot, Etenesh Diro Neda, Senbere Teferi, Shannon Rowbury, Hellen Obiri, Almaz Ayana

Though she faltered in the 5000m final in Rio, Ayana should be safe in this one. She’ll be going for the world record for the third time this season after coming up short in both previous attempts. She hasn’t raced since Rio, so it’s unclear how her fitness all carry over. But, I don’t know if it really matters. She shattered the 10,000m world record in Rio and, even if she has lost some fitness since then, it seems that she has a lot of time to give back to not have a chance at 14:11.

On the American front, Shannon Rowbury will likely be going for Molly Huddle’s American Record of 14:42. When Huddle set that record two years ago, Rowbury was only six seconds back and it’s fair to say that Rowbury has improved since that time, setting an American Record of her own in the 1500m at Monaco last year. With Ayana doing her thing, we likely won’t see much of Rowbury on camera until she crosses the line, but it’s something to watch as best as one can manage.

Men’s 1500m (3:15pm)

Notable Athletes: Asbel Kiprop, Robby Andrews, Ben Blankenship, Abdelaati Iguider, Elijah Manangoi, Taoufik Makhloufi

Asbel Kiprop is the favorite in this race despite the fact that he only finished in sixth in Rio. He’s been dominant on the Diamond League circuit not only this season, but last season as well. He’s the best 1500m runner in the world in terms of pure ability, but sometimes lets questionable tactics get in the way of putting that ability on full display. He’ll have some challengers here in Iguider, Manangoi, and Makhloufi, but Kiprop has dealt with these guys in many previous Diamond League races. Rio was a fluke.

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase (3:30pm)

Notable Athletes: Conseslus Kipruto, Evan Jager, Abraham Kibiwott, Paul Koech

Kipruto will be going after the 7:53.63 world record set by Saif Saaeed Shaheen in Brussels back in 2004. I don’t quite understand the hype around this world record attempt. Sure, Kipruto has been absolutely dominant in the steeple this season, but he still hasn’t even broken 8:00, let alone run a time that puts him in obvious striking distance of the world record. I’m open to a surprise though.

Evan Jager will also be going after a milestone as he still seeks to become the first non-African to break the 8:00 barrier in the event. He came within a second of doing just that at the Paris meet last year and likely would have if he didn’t trip over the final hurdle.

This will be the last race of Paul Koech’s career. Koech has broken 8:00 nine times in his career, a feat only bettered by the World Record holder himself. Koech sits in third on the all-time steeple chase list behind Shaheen and Brimin Kipruto with a time of 7:54.31. This will be the second legendary career we’ll be forced to say goodbye to in the last week with Bernard Lagat hanging up his spikes over the weekend.

Men’s 800m (3:45 pm)

Clayton Murphy, Alfred Kipketer, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, Ferguson Rotich, Jonathan Kitilit

Clayton Murphy will be making his Diamond League debut as the top Rio finisher in this field as neither Makhloufi or David Rudisha are entered. Having started his season in January as a collegiate athlete, it’s likely that Murphy is running on fumes at this point. Despite his strong showing in Rio, which was already deep into his season, it’s fair to wonder just how much he has left in the tank. There’s some buzz about the vulnerability of the 1:42.60 American record, but I’m skeptical that Murphy has it in him at this point.

Elsewhere in the race, Alfred Kipketer and Jonathan Kitilit are racing well, coming off PR performances in Paris last week. Both Rotich and Bosse were in the Olympic final, though Bosse has certainly cooled off some after looking like a real challenger to Rudisha earlier in the season.

Other Event of Note

Women’s 100m

Notable Athletes: Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers

Not quite the 200m showdown we got in Zurich, which puts Schippers on closer-to-even footing with Thompson, but another showdown between the two best women sprinters in the world should be a treat all the same. Thompson has had Schippers’ number since Rio and will likely have it again in Schippers’ weaker event.