We were told that the Diamond League was going to bring the best of the best together on a regular basis. That all of those key match ups that had been missing in the sport were going to become reality by the Diamond League contracting with all the main characters to put them together in multiple venues. And that the “piece de resitance” would be Zurich and Brussels, as the season would come to a climactic end with athletes vying for Diamond League titles.
So, how’s that working out? Well if the season ending Brussels meet is a guide, not so good.
Take the men’s 100 meters for example. The last time we had a race with the world’s truly best on the track was back in 2009 in the final of the World Championships – the epic Bolt, Gay, Powell final. The Diamond League was supposed to bring them all together last year – but that didn’t happen. We didn’t see them early this season, then of course mid-way through we lost Tyson Gay to injury. We still have Bolt and Powell however, and a new star with Yohan Blake taking the World title in Bolt’s absence and backing that up with back to back 9.82’s in Zurich and Berlin. What we get in Brussels, however, will be a 100 with Bolt, but no Powell or Blake nor Worlds silver medalist Walter Dix – not even Christophe Lemaitre who was 4th in Daegu and certainly a big draw in Europe. No, Bolt gets to run what should be an uncontested race against a field in which the biggest names from Daegu will be finalists Jimmy Vicaut and Nesta Carter – 6th & 7th in the seven man final.
World Champion Blake will be in Brussels – but instead of the 100 he’ll be contesting the 200, where he’s rarely been seen this year! But, as in the 100, no medalists from Daegu will be on the track. Blake will instead be competing against 4th placer Jaysuma Saidi Ndure and 7th place Rondell Sorillo. This theme is repeated throughout the meet, as we end yet another season with a lack of true top level head to heads outside of the global Major – something that the Diamond League was supposed to solve.
There is still a chance that the meet could give us a couple of thrills however, the biggest opportunity being in the men’s 800 which has David Rudisha (KEN) who once again is in outstanding form. This past Saturday in Rieti the Kenyan WR holder ran a sizzling 1:41.33 – the 5th fastest time in history. Last year he ran his twin WR’s (1:41.09 / 1:41.01) one week apart. So I would suspect that another 1:41 could be in the offing and perhaps a shot at the WR – which would almost have to take us under 1:41! That alone would be worth the price of admission. He should have help in the form of top rival, and World’s silver medalist Abubaker Kaki (SUD), who I’m sure, would like nothing less than to be able to take down Rudisha. World 1500 meter champion Asbel Kiprop (KEN) – #3 in the world this year here – will also be in the race as will Adam Kszczot (POL) and Mohammad Aman (ETH) who were 2nd & 3rd behind Rudisha in the Rieti run. So this is a loaded field.
The other event is one that actually brings together all three medalists from Daegu – the women’s 100 meters. While we’ve been having tremendous difficulty getting the top men’s dashers together this century, the women have been happy to take each other on. So Brussels will give us World Champion Carmelita Jeter (USA), runner up Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM)and bronze medalist Kelly Ann Baptiste(TRI) in one final go round before we turn the corner for London. Brussels has a fast surface, so expect something swift to close out the season. This is how the season was supposed to end – times sixteen!
I hope that two days from now I’m going WOW that was an awesome meet. And I’m sure that athletes like Bolt and Sally Pearson in addition to the events I highlighted will provide us with some outstanding moments. But the Diamond League group needs to go back to the drawing board, because this is supposed to be the showcase portion of our season, and so far two years in the only difference between the Diamond League and the old Golden League is the name – as the promises made have yet to be delivered.