1. King Rudisha's dominance
David Rudisha has already smashed fields this outdoor season. In New York he ran 1:41.74, the fastest ever for that early in the season. Rudisha followed that performance with a 1:42.12 run at the Kenyan Olympic Trials, a world record at altitude.
The only thing left for King Rudisha to do early on here in 2012 is also shoot for the world record. On Friday, Rudisha will look to do just that with the assistance of personal pacesetter Sammy Tangui. The weather at Paris's Stade de France is sometimes questionable, but if the conditions are ideal, the mark of 1:41.01 could very well go down.
The race for second place will likely come down to Kenyans Alfred Yego and Richard Kiplagat and the third- and fourth-place finishers at the European Championships, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France and Antonio Manuel Reina of Spain. Also in the field is Oregon junior Elijah Greer coming off his sixth place finish at the Olympic Trials.
The fact that we are discussing the race for second is largely the result of Rudisha's dominance. Even among talents like Mohammed Aman and Abubaker Kaki, Rudisha is so far and above their abilities that it's likely the world will be racing for the silver medal come the Olympic Games.
2. Pearson looks hard to beat
One of the few people in the world who exhibited similar levels dominance as Rudisha did last year was Aussie short hurdler Sally Pearson. Pearson set a huge personal best of 12.28 seconds on her way to gold at the Daegu World Championships, a time just 0.07 off the world record. Pearson has already run a world leader 12.49 on two occasions this year, back during the Australian outdoor season in March and at the Bislett Games in Oslo in early June.
Will anyone be on Pearson's level this year? A few of the top women looking to challenge the Aussie will be in Paris. Michigan grad and British national Tiffany Porter has run 12.65 twice this season and is coming off the high of her husband Jeff upsetting some favorites to make the U.S. Olympic team last week. Kristi Castlin of the United States has the fourth-fastest time in the world this year (12.56 seconds) but is looking for redemption after failing to even make the final at the Olympic Trials. Also entered is hurdles veteran Ginnie Crawford who was fourth at the U.S. Trials.
3. Wide open men's 5k
No Lagat, Farah or Rupp in this one, but pretty much every top East African is here. The discussion has to start with Kenenisa Bekele who last raced at the UK/Ethiopian Olympic Trials 10k which he won in 27:02.59. Joining him on the start line is his brother Tariku as well as Ethiopian 5k Olympic team members Dejen Gebremeskel, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Imane Merga. Gebremeskel proved he has the dominant kick among the Ethiopians with his win at the Oslo Diamond League 5k that served as the unofficial Ethiopian Trials.
The Kenyan contingent is led by their Olympic Trials winner Isaiah Koech. The 19-year-old looks to be in strong form after setting a personal best of 12:57.63 for second place at the Prefontaine Classic. Koech's Olympic teammates Edwin Soi and Thomas Longosiwa will also be present along with veterans Vincent Chepkok, Eliud Kipchoge, Mark Kiptoo and Moses Masai.
4. Gay gets chance for revenge against Gatlin
Justin Gatlin won the U.S. Trials last week but Tyson Gay will get the chance to take on his rival again this week. The Americans will be in hostile territory taking on hometown hero Christophe Lemaitre, the recent European 100 meter champion. Also entered are two men who had the bad fortune to have finished fourth at the Jamaican Trials and just miss the Olympic team, Michael Frater and Nickel Ashmeade. Others to watch for are Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago and Americans Mike Rodgers, Trell Kimmons and Calesio Newman.
5. A look at challengers to American 1500 meter women
The U.S. selected a strong women's 1500 meter team of Morgan Uceny, Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson, all of whom have shown the potential to medal at major championships. On Friday, we will get a look at how their competition looks at this point in the season.
Young Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi has been the surprise of 2012, bursting on the scene with a 3:56.54 run in Rome, an improvement of over five seconds on her personal best. Kenyan Olympic Trials champion Helen Obiri, also the world indoor 3k title holder, has also dipped under the four minute barrier this season. Others to watch for are Pre Classic 3k winner Mariem Alaoui Selsouli of Morocco, two-time world champion Maryam Jamal and France's Hind Dehiba.