Kingston was pretty hot, and over the last few weeks we’ve had bits and pieces of high quality action in various meets – like Mt SAC, Penn, and Drake. But now we get to finally get the start of the Diamond League on Friday, and looking at the provisional start lists Doha is going to crank things up a couple notches! With the relay season history, the Diamond League is the next "phase" of competition on the road to London – and with Doha sporting some of the best fields I’ve seen outside of the DL "finals" it looks like the Diamond League may finally begin to deliver on its promise of great match ups.
Several events in Doha feature match ups that could have impact on upcoming Trials meets as well as London. For example, the men’s 100 is loaded with Asafa Powell (JAM), Nesta Carter (JAM), Justin Gatlin (US), Mike Rodgers (US), Lerone Clarke (JAM), Jimmy Vicaut (FRA), and Darvis Patton – that’s Olympic semi final quality! The Americans and Jamaicans will all be looking to solidify their positions ahead of their Trials, and need to lay down some creditable times at this point of the season, because the sprint fields in both country’s are a bit crowded – not to mention Bolt just opened at 9.82. This one will be fun to discuss when it’s done.
The same could be said for the women’s event. Especially for the Jamaicans as it features their entire 4×1 from Doha – Veronica Campbell Brown, Shelly Ann Fraser, Sherone Simpson, and Kerron Stewart. They will take on a field that includes Allyson Felix (US) who is clearly working on her speed right now while trying to decide if she wants to add the 400 to her plate at the Trials – if I had to place a bet right now I’d say look for her to double in the 100/200. This race will give a good clue as to just how competitive she might be in this event.
There’s no deuce for the women, but there is for the men, and World silver medalist Walter Dix will run his first 200 of the year after opening up in the 100 at 9.86w (2.4). Dix looked good in his 100 opener and in anchoring one of the US relay squads at Penn. Now we’ll get to see how fit he is. Yohan Blake (JAM, 19.91) and Wallace Spearmon (US, 19.95) have thrown down the early markers – we’ll see if Dix can match. And while we’re talking about long sprints, Britain’s Martin Rooney, fresh off his defeat of Jeremy Wariner in the Mt SAC 400, gets to test himself against current world leader LaShawn Merritt (US, 44.73).
Doha won’t be one dimensional however. Take the middle distances where we get to see 800 WR holder David Rudisha (KEN) go head to head against the only man to defeat him in the last two seasons, Mohammed Aman (ETH) who scored a narrow .05 sec victory last year in Milan to close out Rudisha’s season. I suspect that the WR holder will not want a repeat of Milan in Doha. As a matter of fact my gut says we get a fast – perhaps 1:42 – race to reinforce just who the boss is in the 800.
While that battle will be taking place in the 800, Rudisha’s chief rival, Abubaker Kaki (SUD) will take another stab at the 1500 (he ran 3:31.76 last year) against a loaded field that includes Asbel Kiprop (KEN), Silas Kiplagat (KEN), and Daniel Kipchichir Komen (KEN) among others. AND in the 3000 we get the seasonal debut of Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) against Inane Merga (ETH), Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), Augustine Choge, and Isiah Koech (KEN) in a race that’s actually deeper than the men’s 100! I’ll be very curious to see how Kaki does in Doha, because he’s got to find a way to get past Rudisha – and apparently he sees that as getting stronger, not fast (as in running the 400). He’ll be up against a group of Kenyan’s that will be looking for any advantage they can get at this point in the season, because the 1500 in Kenya is like the 110 hurdles in the United States – fast, deep, and very crowded! I would not be surprised to see someone drop a 3:32 on Friday.
And that’s just the men’s side, because things are also deep in the women’s mid distances. Especially the 3000 that’s stacked with Maryam Jamal (BRN), Meseret Defar (ETH), Gelete Burka (ETH), and Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) in another Olympic caliber field. This is one of those “middle” events where milers Jamal and Burka move up and 5000 runners Defar and Cheruiyot move down, and they meet in the middle. What wins out, speed or strength? That kind of competition makes for one very exciting race! As much as I enjoy speed, Defar and Cheruiyot are going to be hard to beat.
The field events are loaded too. There’s World high jump champ Jesse Williams taking on Trevor Barry (BAH), Donald Thomas (BAH), and Dimotios Kondrokoukis (GRE). Chris Tomlinson (GBR), Andrew Howe (ITA), Godfrey Mokoena (RSA), and current WL Greg Rutherford (GBR) in the long jump. Nadezhda Ostapchuk (BLR) v Jill Camarena Williams (US) in the shot put. And a javelin throwdown between Maria Abakamova (RUS) and Barbora Spotakova (BLR) in a rematch of last year’s gold and silver medalists from Daegu – and both women HATE to lose!
Doha is going to set the bar high for the rest of the Diamond League! If everything goes the way it should THIS will be the kind of event that I think we’ve all been waiting for from this group of meets. This should be a lot of fun.