The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Aviva Grand Prix Preview

Feb 17th, 2012
3:27 pm PDT

scan0008With several National Championships on tap next weekend, this weekend looks to be fairly quiet. There will be some major action taking place in Britain however, as the Aviva Grand Prix has some loaded races and outstanding individuals scheduled to compete. Here are a few events and individuals that I’m looking forward to in Britain.


Men’s Two Mile

Mo Farah (GBR) has been having a great indoor season, setting a new PR in the mile and winning a 1500 over some solid competition. He moves up closer to his normal racing range here in the two mile. The race won’t be easy with Tariku Bekele (ETH) and Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) in the race. Especially given that Bekele’s indoor best of 8:13.32 is quite better than Farah’s 8:20.95. We will get to see just how much progress Farah has made this winter, he takes on two of Ethiopia and Kenya’s best. Another good showing here and I would say that Farah’s winter speed work has been productive.


Men’s 60 Meter Hurdles

We get an early treat this season as Dayron Robles (CUB) and Liu Xiang (CHN) will go head to head over the short distance. There’s no direct correlation between 60 meter times and 110 meter times, but it will be very interesting to see how they compete against each other for the first time since the Daegu debacle at Worlds. In a race where hundredths of a second could most likely decide medals in London, both athletes will be looking to perform well over this distance – as to do so could mean an advantage outdoors. Xiang doesn’t compete often indoors and brings a best of 7.42 to the line – set back in 2007. Robles has a few more races under his belt and is #2 all time with his best of 7.33. Robles was beaten in his opener last week by Kevin Craddock (USA) who is also in the race, but make no mistake that this will be a showdown between the two fastest outdoor hurdlers in history.


Women’s Pole Vault

Holly Bleasdale (GBR) enters as the #3 indoor vaulter all time off her 4.87m/15’ 11.75” performance a few weeks ago in France. She gets a chance to improve on that and attempt to join the 16 foot club, as she takes on ‘09 Outdoor World Champion Anna Rogowska (POL). This will be a chance for Bleasdale to show us (and herself) that her improvement is for real and that she intends to be a serious threat this year. Consistency is what marks a champion. Holly has reached the heights, she now has to get consistent and comfortable up there if she hopes to compete successfully against the Rogowska’s, Suhr’s and Isinbayeva’s of the world.


Men’s 60 Meters

We get a serious collection of Jamaican’s in this race with Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and current world leader Lerone Clake in attendance. They are the best of a group of sprinters that includes Kim Collins (SKN), Daniel Bailey (ANT) and Trell Kimmons (USA). With Powell having said earlier that he is going for indoor gold in this event at the World Championships, it will be interesting to see how he does against world leader Clarke, who has been consistently fast over the distance this winter. The three Jamaicans are all blitz starters; But I think the little guy – Clarke – could have a slight advantage here. 


Men’s 1500 Meters

Bernard Lagat (USA) will be testing his speed against some outstanding milers in Augustine Choge (KEN), Nixon Chepseba (KEN) and Gebremedhin Mekonnen (ETH). Gebremedhin just ran 3:36.05 this past week in Karlsruhe, Lagat, however, is the most experienced of the bunch when it comes to indoor running and Choge is a huge talent. This could end up being one of the most exciting events of the day.

For my money, these are the best fields of the meet. There are several individuals that I think bear watching as well. One of them is Nicola Sanders (GBR) in the 400. Sanders was the silver medalist in Osaka (’07) with a best of 49.65 before the injury bug bit her. The women’s event hasn’t progressed much since then, however, so any return to form could put her in the mix in London. I’m also curious to see how well Marcin Lewandowski performs in the 800, since last year it was he, and not this winter’s sensation Adam Kszczot, that was Poland’s best in Daegu. It will be interesting to see if he responds to his countryman’s performances with something fast himself. I also intend to keep an eye on the women’s 1500 where both Hanna England (GBR) and Anna Pierce (USA) have their eyes on London. Pierce has not run as well as I would have expected to this point – so I’m hoping to see better this weekend. England, on the other hand, hopes to be among the hometown heroes this summer, coming off her surprise silver last year in Daegu. Both women will want to be on track here with the indoor season getting ready to wind down.

This should provide a good lead in to the beginning of the “championship” portion of the indoor season.

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