Fresh from Tokyo here is our preview for the next slice of athletics action, the Eugene Diamond League. With domestic dust ups and Olympic rematches aplenty, the Pre Classic will provide a welcome boost to anyone suffering Olympic withdrawal.
Watch live on the BBC on Saturday August 21st.
The Women’s 100m will feature the return of Sha’Carri Richardson (10.72) against the Olympic 1-2-3. Elaine-Thompson-Herah ran an Olympic record (10.61) to win in Tokyo and will be tough to match. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will hope to turn the tables on her compatriot. She ran 10.74 to beat Shericka Jackson into third (10.76). Marie-Josée Ta Lou means the Tokyo top four are all in the field. Teanna Daniels (10.84) also made the final in Rio, finishing 7th.
The track in Eugene produced some startling times in the US trials so don’t write off potentially closing the gap on Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record (10.49).Embed from Getty Images
Olympic Champ Lamont Marcell-Jacobs is mysteriously not competing until 2022 but the silver and bronze medalists from Tokyo will duke it out for the honours in Eugene. Fred Kerley showed the depth in American sprinting by picking up the silver medal in 9.84. Andre De Grasse was not far behind in Tokyo, running 9.89 for a lifetime best. The Canadian followed it up with gold over 200m.
An interesting addition is Michael Norman, the 400m specialist stepping down for his first 100m of the season. His 9.86 in 2020 was a world lead. Akani Simbine was fourth in Tokyo but may well turn the tables in Eugene. Trayvon Bromell, the world lead in 2021, will hope to bounce back from a disappointing Tokyo which saw him fail to reach the final.
Don’t sleep on Ronnie Baker, the Tokyo fifth placer, who has won seven diamond league races.
Reigning world champ Dina Asher-Smith gets an opportunity to show her form three weeks after pulling out of the Olympic 200m. Gabby Thomas, the Tokyo bronze medalist features alongside Sha’Carri Richardson. Alyson Felix steps down to the 200m having picked up her eleventh Olympic Games medal in Tokyo. Jenna Prandini may be keen to give Sha’Carri Richardson a difficult race for top American. Marie-Josee Ta Lou was fifth in Tokyo over the distance and will no doubt be in contention in Eugene.
Women’s 400m H
Whilst there’s be no Sydney McLaughlin there are plenty of interesting storylines in Eugene. Dalilah Muhammad pushed McLaughlin all the way in Tokyo. Muhammad’s greatest challenge may come from her compatriot, Shamier Little. Little failed to make the US team but ran 52.39 in Stockholm to move her to fifth on the all-time list. Tokyo fourth and fifth placers Janieve Russell and Anna Ryzhykova make up a stacked filed.
Kenya’s newly minted Olympic 1-2 lead a highly competitive two lap field. Emmanuel Korir was hugely impressive in picking up the Olympic title and Ferguson Rotich has been strong all season. Clayton Murphy will be keen to salvage a season that peaked so impressively at the US trials, as will Elliot Giles and Oliver Dustin of GB. Marco Arop has shown himself a classy performer on the Diamond League circuit and was unlucky not to make the final in Tokyo. Watch out also for Isaiah Jewett who has fond memories of Haywards Fields, having picked up the NCAA title and qualified for Tokyo at the same track earlier this summer.
This could be the race of the meet with five of the Olympic finalists from Tokyo. Athing Mu was light years ahead in Tokyo and that gap is unlikely to have closed in the two weeks since but Jemma Reekie will be desperate to prove a point. The Olympic fourth placer only fell out of the medals in Tokyo in the final metres and will have a small shot at redemption. Likewise Natoya Goule, who went into the final as one of the fastest in the field but faded badly to last in the final.
Keely Hodgkinson will of course enter as the Olympic silver medalist but may be tired after the media circuit she has endured while back in the UK.
Kate Grace has well and truly put the disappointment of failing to make the US team behind her. She will hope to push her compatriots all the way.
Men’s Bowerman Mile
Boy oh boy the Eugene Diamond League is serving up a treat. Jakob Ingebrigtsen versus Timothy Cheruiyot in a Tokyo rematch of epic proportions. We know the Eugene track is quick so don’t be surprised if they throw down something ludicrous. 3.48 is not off the cards.
The top two will be up against two fellow Olympic finalists in Jake Heyward (9th) and Oli Hoare (11th), with the Brit a member of the Oregon Track Club. Matt Centrowitz is another Oregon alumni with fond memories of Eugene and the old Haywards Field. The former Olympic champ will hope to prove he was unlucky not to make the final in Tokyo. He has already run 3.49.26 this year.
Men’s 2 mile
Sound your World Record attempt klaxon, I think we may see one. Daniel Komen’s 7.58.61 is the benchmark from 1997 and three athletes may well go for it. 10,000m champ Selemon Barega got the better of 5000m Champ Joshua Cheptegei in Tokyo but the Ugandan showed ominous form in bouncing back for his 5000m title. They will face the challenge of Jakob Kiplimo with these three the obvious leading candidates. Komen’s record is hugely impressive but we will see an attempt nonetheless. My prediction: not quite but it will be close!
Faith Kipyegon’s demolition of Sifan Hassan makes her the uncontested best female miler in the world. Two Olympic gold medals, a World Championship title and the fourth fastest time female of all time, don’t bet against her improving that in Eugene.
Laura Muir will challenge her with confidence having broken her own British record in Tokyo. They will be joined by a competitive field including Australian record holder Jess Hull and Tokyo fifth placer Gabriela Debues-Stafford of Canada.
Could we see a world-record attempt in Eugene?
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
Peruth Chematai surprised the world in winning Olympic gold and will not be in Eugene. In her absence the Pre Classic will feature a highly competitive steeplechase field. Courtney Frerichs’ bold bid for a medal, increasing the pace with four laps to go earnt her the silver. Such a feat may see her as the favourite in Eugene.
A very interesting addition will be Norah Jeruto, the world lead, who was not in Tokyo. The Kenyan lives in Kazakhstan and is due to change nationality but could not do so in time for the Games. She has raced only once this year, winning in Doha.
Tokyo 4th placer, Mekides Abebe, joins a strong field. One to watch will be Emma Coburn, the former World Champ who faded badly over the final two laps in Tokyo and was eventually disqualified. She looked in good form right up until the Games and may well eye an assault on sub 9 mins.
Beatrice Chepkoech is still the world record holder but hasn’t shown anywhere near that form this year. Similar can be said for Celliphine Chepteek Chespol.
Men’s Shot Put
The Olympic podium makes its way to Eugene bidding for Diamond League glory. Ryan Crouser became a two-time Olmypic Champion in Tokyo (breaking the Olympic record, he threw 23.30m). Joe Kovacs and Tomas Walsh were the clear best of the rest. Interestingly enough it was an exact repeat of the Rio 2016 podium. Darlan Romani of Brazil could hope to close the gap to the trio if he can throw towards his 22.61m personal best (he was fourth in Tokyo).
Men’s Triple Jump
Three of Tokyo’s top four head to Eugene with Pedro Pichardo the best of the bunch. Hugues Fabrice Zango (third in Tokyo) and Will Claye (fourth) will hope to close the gap.
Women’s High Jump
None of Tokyo’s medallists make the trip but there will still be interest in Eugene. Nafi Thiam will hope to mix it with the specialists. Toyko fourth and sixth placers Iyrna Gerashchenko and Vashti Cunningham will head to Oregon as favourites.
Women’s Pole Vault
With the pressure off we may well see some serious vaulting in Eugene. Katie Nageotte, now Olympic champ, leads a high quality field with Holly Bradshaw likely to push towards her British record (4.90m). Katerina Stefanidi will hope to turn the tables and has won 16 Diamond league events throughout her career.
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Featured image “Steve Prefontaine – Larger-than-life Mural” by 1Flatworld is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0