Paris Diamond League 2011 Preview & Live Streaming Info
Universal Sports (live streaming online on July 8th at 2pm ET)
Initial Entry List
The Diamond League continues in Paris this Friday, featuring star-studded lineups in almost all of the races. Usain Bolt headlines, but aside from track's greatest entertainer, there will be appearances from world class competitors Asbel Kiprop, Meseret Defar, Caster Semenya, Dayron Robles, Veronica Campbell Brown, and Christopher Lemaitre as well as top Americans Bernard Lagat, Andrew Wheating, Leo Manzano, Shalane Flanagan, Alysia Montano (Johnson), Jeremy Wariner, and David Oliver. If that's somehow not enough to get you interested, then read on below for a preview of the seven best events on the track.
7. Women's 100
American champ Carmelita Jeter is sitting this meet out, leaving Jamaican national champ Veronica Campbell-Brown as the clear favorite. The runner-up at Jamaican nationals, Kerron Stewart, will likely again be her main competition, along with USATF 200 meter champion Shalonda Solomon. Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria could also contend for the win.
Picks: Cambell-Brown, Stewart, Solomon
6. Men's 400
It's amazing to me that this race doesn't crack my top five, as it features Jeremy Wariner as well as the Blade Runner, Oscar Pistorius. It will be interesting to see if Wariner can get another diamond league victory after losing at USATF's, as he should still be considered the favorite in this field. His top competition comes from Florida alum Calvin Smith, Florida State alum Jonathon Borlee, and Jamaican Jermaine Gonzales, who will be looking to bounce back from a tough fourth place finish at nationals.
Picks: Wariner, Borlee, Smith
5. Men's 110 Hurdles
Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Dayron Robles faces off against American record holder David Oliver in what is likely to be another great showdown. Oliver has run faster so far this season (including a world leading 12.94), but Robles has not lost in a while and will certainly come to play as he begins to tune up for Daegu. Behind this duo will be a trio of Americans that finished second through fourth behind Oliver at USATF's: Aries Merritt, Jason Richardson, and Terrence Trammell.
Picks: Oliver, Robles, Trammell
4. Men's 200
Any race that Usain Bolt is in has achieved can't-miss status, at least in my book, and this is no exception. After skipping the Jamaican national championships, this will be a good indicator of his fitness as we get closer to Daegu. Though this is race will be all about him, behind Bolt are a slew of top challengers. USATF runner-up Darvis Patton could be dangerous should Bolt slip up, as his 19.98 (wind-aided) shows he's capable of at least putting some pressure on the fastest man alive. Christopher "White Lightning" Lemaitre will be trying his hand at the 200 in front of a hometown crowd, and if the conditions are right he could threaten the 20 second mark. Finally, look for Shawn Crawford to bounce back from his sixth place showing at USA's.
Picks: Bolt, Patton, Lemaitre
3. Women's 5k
Shalane Flanagan made it look easy in the 10k at nationals, and this could be the perfect time to reclaim her American record from Molly Huddle. However, I doubt that will be good enough to put her in contention for the win, as she has only the eighth fastest personal best of a field highlighted by Meseret Defar. Honestly, even Defar will have her hands full with this field. Sentayehu Ejigu and Denzebe Dibaba were less than a quarter of a second behind her in Oslo, and I think we can expect this race to also come down to the final 100 meters. Meselech Melkamu will look to be a factor after a fourth place finish in Oslo, and rising Kenyan star Mercy Cherono will look to break up the Ethiopian dominance. Another one to look for is Amy Hastings. Hastings is .61 off of the A standard for World Championships in Daegu and if she hits it not only does she secure her spot, but she'll also punch a ticket for her training partner Angela Bizzarri!
Picks: Defar, Melkamu, Cherono, … , Flanagan AR
2. Women's 800
In what could easily pass as the finals at Daegu, there are an impressive eight women in the field who have run sub-2. Included in those eight are the top four in the diamond league standings thus far: US champ Alysia Montano, Halima Hachlaf of Morocco, Jenny Meadows of Great Britain, and Caster Semenya of South Africa. However, none of these four international stars has the top seasonal best in the field--that honor belongs to Svetlana Usovich of Belarus, who ran a world-leading time of 1:58.12 ten days ago. This race promises be very exciting--will Jenny Meadows return to the form that saw her medal in 2009? Or could this race mark the rebirth of the Caster Semenya that dominated Meadows and the rest of the field at that same championship? Don't leave out Kenia Sinclair who's had arguably the most consistent first half of the season.
Picks: Semenya, Montano, Sinclair
1. Men's 1500
This field is absolutely ridiculous. For starters, we have the American contingent of Lagat, Wheating, Manzano and a young Centrowitz. Lagat will be attempting to prove he still has the wheels to mix it up with the true elite after getting edged by an American collegiate at USATF's--still can't believe I'm typing those words. Meanwhile, Wheating, Manzano and Centrowitz will be gunning for the 'A' standard of 3:35 in order to secure their berths to Daegu. Will Centro pull a Dorian Ulrey
) from Rome 2009 and be sprawled out on the floor? It will be the fastest race of his life. In addition to the Americans, Nick Willis of New Zealand will also be chasing the 'A' standard, and Brit Andy Baddeley will hope to be in contention as well. However, these five will have their work cut out for them as they face some of the best in the world--including Olympic gold medalist Asbel Kiprop, who will look to bounce back from a poor showing in the 800 at Lausanne. In addition to Kiprop, Moroccans Amine Laalou and Abdelaati Iguider and Ethiopian Mekonnen Gebremedhin should prove dangerous in the final lap.
Picks: Kiprop, Laalou, Lagat
(check out our poll question and let us know who you think will be the top American)
In addition to these seven spectacular events, there will be plenty more entertainment coming your way from Paris. Be sure to check back in on Friday for more post-race coverage on Flotrack!