The results are in, and after watching the Rome leg of the Diamond League I think I learned a few things. Prefontaine is only two days away, so things could change a bit over the next 48 hours. Results of the meet can be found here, so without going into each and every race and result, here are my thoughts on what happened in Rome.
Men’s 100 meters. After watching Bolt today (9.76, -0.1) Ostrava was a matter of jet lag – or perhaps being out too late the night before. Either way, “sluggish” Bolt gave way to a sprinter that had the race under control by 30 meters – as is typical in his victories. Bolt is going to be difficult to beat in London, and in my opinion dispensed with two “pretenders” today, as Powell and Lemaitre weren’t even in the same race with Bolt past 30 meters. As far as I’m concerned the London field just got whittled down to Bolt, Dix, Gatlin, Blake and Gay – and that list may be shorter after Saturday. If you can’t go at least 9.80 on demand, medal hopes are slim this year!
Women’s 100 meters. One tremendous start by Murielle Ahoure (CIV), but 11.00 is not supposed to win these “elite” races. Talk of Jamaican sprint power is a three person conversation at this point – Bolt, Blake, VCB – as the rest of the Jamaican women look nothing like the squad that was sent to Beijing in 2008 – big fall off since then. There’s still time, but not much.
Women’s 400 hurdles. First Demus looked bad in Ostrava. Today it was Melaine Walker’s turn as she was only 8th in 56.26 – so I guess both champions have had their “down” moments for the season. Demus rebounded nicely running 54.80 behind Jamaican Kaliese Spencer’s 54.39. Not quite the rebound that Bolt had, but nice enough that she’s easily “back in the mix”.
Men’s 400 hurdles. First, where was David Greene (GBR)? In the world of sports, trash talk MUST be backed up! It’s going to be interesting in London. Second, Javier Culson looks determined this year. He was fast down the backstretch, put room between he and the field, and only Bershawn was as strong as him in the stretch. Bershawn left too much today, and I got the feeling watching the stretch run that giving up anything to Culson in the first 300 could be too much.
Women’s 800. Jelimo is back, but there’s another player in the game as that stretch run of Fantu Modisa (1:57.56 NR for Ethiopia) was no joke! Not sure why Jelimo held back from the rabbit, but she should have gone out with her because clearly the slower pace was to Modiso’s liking. Jelimo couldn’t out kick her and Savinova made up ground, so I would think that Jelimo might want to go back to serious front running and burning off the opposition. Either way add Modiso as a medal contender as this is not the first solid run she’s had this season. Likewise Semenya is not in consideration for me at this point. Clearly the body may be willing the the mind is not as into it as in ‘09.
Men’s Steeple. Koech is a beast! 7:54.31, #3 all time and he did it solo. No Mateelong or Kipruto in Rome, which means that (IMHO) London could see a WR in this event!
Women’s 5000. Rome was Women’s Day as the best races/results overall were coming from the women. And this may have been the best race of the day as the finish of this one was much closer than the men’s 100 meters – or the women’s for that matter! After 4900 meters Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) and Meseret Defar (ETH) turned this into an all out sprint down the final straight – complete with photo finish and everything! Defar seemed to have the edge mkost of the stretch but Cheruiyot somehow willed her way by at the tape. Cheruiyot has become one of those athletes that just refuses to lose. Now I’m waiting anxiously for the London replay!
Women’s 1500. The race between Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) and Morgan Uceny (US) went about as I expected – with the more race sharp Dibaba (4:00.85) just ahead of the rapidly improving Uceny (4:01.59). Unfortunately for both the action was up ahead of them as another “unknown” Ethiopian, Abeba Aregawi broke Dibaba’s week old NR with a scorching 3:56.54 – with “unknown” Kenyan Obiri crossing the line in a PR 3:59.68. Actually Obiri wasn’t unknown, she ran 4:02 and change last year, but Aregawe only ran 4:10 last year and I don’t remember her 4:01.96 from 2010! I’ll remember her now, because I spent most of the last lap trying to figure out who was impersonating Dibaba! If you can’t break 4:00 you have no shot at a medal in this event in London unless they let the pace just DROP! Even then, my guess is you’d better be prepared to kick from 600 to 800 out, because there are some women in this event with “wheels”.
These were my big revelations. Lavillenie solidified his stance as the top dog in the pole vault. Spotakova separated herself a bit from Abakumova in the javelin. As did Valerie Adams (NZL) from Nadzeya Ostapchuk (BLR) in the shot put. See, more Women’s Day!
The Pre Classic is less than two days away and with great fields in just about every event, could be the new top meet of the season. So we’ll see if we get another solid sprint performance to say that Bolt has a rival(s) – can you say Dix v Gatlin. Perhaps another sub-20 deuce as Walter Dix and Wallace Spearmon square off. The first face off of the year between Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt. over 400 and a loaded women’s field with Sanya Richards Ross up against recent conquerer Novlene Williams Mills. The Kenyan Trials for the 10,000 meters. What could end up being the hottest 1500 on US soil for the men, as well as nearly all the women’s major players in the 1500 minus Uceny. A men’s hurdle field capable of sub13. Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix over 200 meters. And some field event fields to match. Must see TV that’s being televised by NBC at Noon Pacific Standard Time! Nothing wrong with track that can’t be fixed! That’s why tomorrow I’m going to tell you what went wrong, then next week after the dust settles from the weekend action, I’m going to tell you how I think we can make it better!