The Brussels Diamond League meeting concludes this season of track and field. This is not only the last chance for athletes to run a fast time, but "Diamond Race" titles are on the line for fifteen disciplines. But beyond the clock, medals, and money, there are select races and athletes that are bringing more personal motives to Brussels. Here are three story lines that you should watch out for on Friday.

Want to rerun the Olympic Men 1500m final? You got it.

This race features eight of the twelve London 2012 Olympic 1500m finalists and the results may provide answers to some lingering questions. Taoufik Makhloufi has looked phenomenal in all of his races this season - he won the 800m at the 2012 African Championships in 1:43.88, ran a personal best of 3:30.80 at the Herculis Diamond League at Monaco, won Olympic gold, and recently dominated the field at Zagreb while attempting to run a world leading time.

However, his rise to dominance has been overshadowed by doping accusations based on his sparse racing schedule and drastic improvement. Despite personal opinions, Makhloufi is the real deal when it comes to racing. The question is whether he can recreate his Olympic performance? As long as he does not go out in 1:50 through 800m like he did at Zagreb, signs point to yes. Althought he was beaten by Kiprop and Chepseba in a fast race in Monaco, Makhloufi has been in better form in his last few races.

The "Big Three" will be looking avenge their poor performance in the Olympic final. I'm not referring to a trio of NBA athletes, but Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat, and Nixon Chepseba. While making the Olympic final is not normally categorized as a "poor performance," these three came into the final with the expectations of a possible podium sweep. All three had run sub-3:30 and placed seventh (Kiplagat), eleventh (Chepseba), and twelfth (Kiprop). All three Kenyans will look to justify their Olympic selection and redeem themselves.

It seemed that Kiprop had worked out all of the faults in his racing tactics throughout this season. Diamond League wins, a world leading time (3:28.88 in Monaco), and a World Championship gold all indicated that he was the man to beat in London. Unfortunately, he was a non-factor in the final due to injury and hopefully has found better form for Brussels.

There are other Kenyans who are looking to show Athletics Kenya why they should have been placed on the Olympic team. Caleb Ndiku, who has run 3:32.39 this season, placed fourth at the Kenya Olympic Trials and recently ran 7:30.99 for 3000m at the Stockholm Diamond League. There are also five other Kenyans in the field who have run under 3:34 this season, but were unable to complete in London. One has to wonder why athletes decide to change their nationality in order to compete at championship meet.

The American duo of Matthew Centrowitz and Leo Manzano also look to end their season on a high note. However, it may take a Brussels miracle to obtain greater accolades than the two have already accomplished this season. Centrowitz looked to improve on his bronze medal from the 2011 World Championships, but unfortunately ended in the fourth position in the final. Missing out on a medal did not cause Centrowitz to lose any steam as he ran a big personal best of 3:31.96 at the Lausanne Diamond League. However, an eighth place finish at Birmingham in 3:37.93 may show that his season is coming to an appropriate end.

Manzano was not an overwhelming favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team, but managed to grab the silver medal in London. He picked an excellent time for the "good" Manzano to show up and produce a lethal finishing kick in the Olympic 1500m final. However, Manzano seems to suffer from the "Jekyll and Hyde Syndrome" where he either performs brilliantly or tanks in his races. The "good" Manzano took silver in the London Olympics, won the U.S. Olympic Trials 1500m, and pushed Asbel Kiprop to the line in Brussels two years ago with a personal best of 3:32.37. The "bad" Manzano took last in his semifinal in the Beijing Olympics or runs over 4:00 in the mile. Since London, Manzano has run 3:34.08 in Lausanne for tenth and 3:42.20 for eleventh in Birmingham. If Manzano can replicate his 2010 Brussels performance, then a personal best will be in store.

If either American can muster the same finishing kick as they did in their best race this season, they will be in contention in the final straightaway. Despite their performance in Brussels, both athletes have had an international impact in the metric mile.

Two other Olympic finalists who seem to go unnoticed should also be factors. Abdelaati Iguider, the Olympic 1500m bronze medalist who nearly grabbed a second medal in the 5000m, has displayed a dangerous combination of speed and strength in the final stages of the race. Mekonnen Gebremedhin has been in the top three in the 1500m/mile at Henglo, Eugene, Oslo, Lausanne, and Birmingham. Their tactical prowess should concern any other athlete in the field in the final stages of the race.

Nothing can change the results from London (except for a positive test). However, a favorable results may soothe the soul of some of these milers.
 

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
06.08.1988
KEN
3:31.00
3:31.00
18.10.1989
USA
3:31.96
3:31.96
25.09.1987
KEN
3:32.08
3:32.08
12.12.1990
KEN
3:29.77
3:29.77
16.11.1994
QAT
3:33.69
3:33.69
11.10.1988
ETH
3:31.45
3:31.45
25.03.1987
MAR
3:31.47
3:33.99
23.12.1994
KEN
3:36.60
3:36.60
20.08.1989
KEN
3:29.27
3:29.63
30.06.1989
KEN
3:28.88
3:28.88
16.01.1985
KEN
3:33.31
3:38.31
27.11.1984
KEN
3:29.02
3:33.39
20.07.1990
KEN
3:33.31
3:33.31
29.04.1988
ALG
3:30.80
3:30.80
12.09.1984
USA
3:32.37
3:34.08
09.10.1992
KEN
3:32.02
3:32.39
14.03.1984
FIN
3:36.88
3:36.88
27.03.1988
KEN
3:31.61
3:31.61


Redemption for Kenyans

There are other Kenyans who are looking at Brussels as an opportunity to salvage their 2012 track and field season. While neither Mercy Cherono or Paul Koech had an opportunity to race for an Olympic medal, but both have a chance to win "The Diamond Race" and $40,000. 

After placing 5th at the 2011 World Championships, Cherono was left off the Kenyan Olympic team. At the Diamond League meetings at Monaco, Lausanne, and Birmingham, she has run the 5000m and won each race. This gives Cherono a total of 12 points in the Diamond League standings, but does not guarantee her the title. Standing in her way is the 10k bronze medalist and 5k silver medalist, Vivian Cheruiyot. Cheruiyot took second to Cherono in Birmingham. If she is able to reverse the results in Brussels, the title will be hers for the taking. Expect Cherono to do her compatriot no favors as both a great sum of money and pride are on the line.
 

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
21.11.1991
ETH
15:12.24
15:12.24
26.07.1989
BEL
15:03.63
15:10.24
09.09.1981
GBR
15:02.00
15:02.00
23.01.1986
ETH
14:31.20
14:41.43
07.05.1991
KEN
14:35.13
14:49.26
11.09.1983
KEN
14:20.87
14:35.62
09.02.1994
ETH
15:11.53
15:11.53
05.05.1992
ETH
14:58.23
14:58.23
31.08.1984
USA
14:44.76
15:02.26
28.03.1984
KEN
14:31.91
14:46.73
22.12.1983
KEN
14:34.86
14:39.53
19.12.1985
KEN
14:30.42
14:43.11
16.01.1992
ETH
15:07.35
15:07.35
10.06.1986
KEN
15:17.03
15:17.03
29.10.1989
KEN
14:44.82
14:44.82
20.03.1990
UKR
 
 
13.07.1979
ITA
15:02.65
15:06.81
 
Koech also seeks some monetary compensation for his lack of an Olympic appearance. Despite running the third fastest steeplechase time in history (7:54.31) at Rome, he did not perform well at the Kenyan Olympic trials and was not selected for the team. While Cherono has to perform at Brussels to receive her money, Koech is already guaranteed the title as he has an insurmountable total of 18 points.

ATHLETE DATE OF BIRTH NATION PB SB
14.12.1992
KEN
8:03.43
8:03.43
24.04.1984
RUS
8:26.03
8:26.38
20.04.1987
KEN
8:10.63
8:12.84
18.02.1977
ESP
8:11.52
8:24.19
31.07.1985
KEN
7:53.64
8:01.73
08.12.1994
KEN
8:03.49
8:03.49
25.05.1990
KEN
8:12.17
8:23.07
10.11.1981
KEN
7:54.31
7:54.31
28.05.1987
FRA
8:23.37
8:23.37
31.01.1981
MDA
8:18.97
8:22.09
20.04.1984
ESP
8:16.47
8:17.91
02.10.1988
KEN
8:01.67
8:01.67
01.01.1985
KEN
8:05.88
8:08.33
16.02.1985
MAR
8:07.02
8:10.20
02.04.1992
KEN
8:07.71
8:11.83


The Magic of Brussels

If Brussels can recreate the magic from 2011, then fans will not be disappointed. 2011 included memorable performances such as Yohan Blake running the second fastest 200m in history (19.26), Morgan Uceny reaffirming her 1500m dominance with a Diamond League title, the resurgence of Kenenisa Bekele, and an American record for Galen Rupp in the 10000m.

On Friday, eyes should be drawn to the normal superstars in the 110m hurdles, 200m, and 100m. Aries Merrit goes for two world records that belong to Dayron Robles: 12.87 and the most sub-13 races in a single season as Merrit has gone under that mark eight times since the Prefontaine Classic. Blake is hoping that he can recreate his 200m performance from last year and Usain Bolt will most likely dazzle in the 100m before potentially playing for Manchester United against Real Madrid next year.

The final Diamond League Meeting in Brussels not only marks the end of the Diamond League Series, but brings an end to another incredible track and field season. If these performances are indicative of the level of competition for the next year, then fans should already be excited.