It’s time for the second installment of the Diamond League, and if Doha was any indication of how the year is going to go then Shanghai should be a real humdinger! Looking at the start lists, things should once again be exiting from start to finish. As usual however, there are some events that I am especially looking forward to:
Men’s 110 Hurdles
Aries Merritt, David Oliver, Jason Richardson
This is one of those wonderful events where the best compete head to head quite often – and the anticipation never drops. That said, this trio could end up being the threesome that represents the US in Moscow, and Shanghai could be the start of several meetings between these men on the season. Oliver needs a good race here as Merritt and Richardson pretty much dominated the event last year, Merritt having one of the best seasons ever. Look for something under 13.10 here given solid conditions.
Justin Gatlin, Darvis Patton, Wallace Spearmon, Warren Weir, Jason Young
No Bolt, Blake or Gay – the current Holy Trinity of the sprints – but this still shapes up add one of the most important sprints matchups of the early season. Three reasons. One, Patton and Gatlin used to be outstanding 200 runners before focusing on the 100.This field will be a good test to see if they "still have it" in this event. Two, Weir and Young – asking with Nickel Ashmeade – are vying for the third spot on the Jamaican team in this discipline. Both will be looking for an edge in Shanghai. Three, Spearmon needs too start separating himself from the pack if he goes to challenge for a medal this summer.
Kirani James, LaShawn Merritt, Jonathon Borlee, Lalonde Gordon
The last two Olympic and World champions go head to head very early this year – and I’m not complaining. James currently leads the world at 44.73. Merritt has shown that his speed is sharp with a 20.23 deuce. Healthy Merritt has consistently been the world best, but the last two seasons have found him hurt or recovering from injury at championship time. Take nothing from James as Merritt would have had to be at his best to win either title, but its nice to see both men pong the track and healthy. So, let’s see who takes round one.
Men’s Long Jump
Ngoni Makusha, Dwight Phillips, Irving Saladino, Mitchell Watt, Greg Rutherford
This could be one of the most interesting competitions of the meet. The long jump has seen better days. Currently if you can jump close to 27 feet you’re a major contender. That’s a long way from the days when it took 28 feet to be in contention for a title. This event is waiting for someone to step up and take over, and this meet has a unique combination of old and new. Phillips And Saladino have both won titles and jumped over 28 feet. Rutherford won In London but only needed to edge over 27 feet. Makusha has outstanding speed and may yet get out to 28 feet. Watt has touched 28 but seems to be missing something in the big ones. There are several others that could be in contention in this wide open event, so important for someone in this group to begin to assert themselves.
Carmelita Jeter, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Blessing Okagbare, Jeneba Tarmoh
Unlike the men, the two fastest women on the planet have no problem going head to head often – thank you – men take note. Shanghai will feature there written for the first time in 2013, with both coming of impressive victories. SAFP with an easy 200 win, Jeter a world leading 10.92. Their races tend to be classic starter vs finisher type events with the best execution usually winning big! Both women are running well so look for something fast! Planner could challenge and play spoiler if either falters. Tarmoh should be interesting. She looked ready fire the big time until the controversy over her photo finish with Felix – she hasn’t been the same since. She could use a competitive race here.
Women’s 400 Hurdles
Lashinda Demus, Zuzana Hejnova, Kaliese Spencer
We don’t often get to are Demus this early, so this could be a treat. Especially with a couple of very talented young ladies in the field. Spencer has run under 53 seconds in the event and has very good flat 400 speed. Hejnova is another talent who’s been improving rapidly and is near breaking 53 herself. These three women should be at the heart of the event in Moscow, so it’s nice to get an early look at them. Demus is part of the old guard of the event, so she’ll have to hold off the youngsters – which is why in actually surprised to see her in competition this soon. She must be ready, and that means trouble for the kids.
There are several other events that catch my eye. Like the high jump with Jesse Williams & Robbie Grabarz; the women’s 800 with Pamela Jelimo & Janeth Jepkoskgei; and the steeple with Brimin Kipruto & Paul Koech. Another trio of what should be some great head to head match ups. All in all this is looking like a great follow up to the opener in Doha.
So set your clock for an early rise – 5am here on the West Coast – get your breakfast together, and prepare for more outstanding track and field!