The European Championships begin today, the latest of the "continental championships" that take place on the non-championship year. If you are an American track and field fan, you might be thinking that this meet isn't for you. I'm here to tell you that you are wrong.
Here are a couple ways you can make the meet about the United States, even though there are no Americans competing.
Because You Want To See If Sydney McLaughlin’s Future Double Is Possible…….
We are a long way away from the Sydney Double (400m/400m hurdles) happening, but it’s still fun to see how it goes with anyone crazy enough to try it.
At this meet, that person is Norway’s Karsten Warholm.
“You only live once so I’m going for it.”— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 5, 2018
Karsten Warholm on his upcoming 400m/400m hurdles double at the European Championships.
More from the Norwegian in today's press conference: ⬇️https://t.co/Mt2LWI8blB#EC2018 #TheMoment pic.twitter.com/TcpOcc1mik
He’s the best 400m hurdle man in the meet, but instead of gliding to victory in a field without Rai Benjamin or Abderrahman Samba, Warholm decided to up the degree of difficulty and run the 400m as well.
Because he has a bye, Warholm won't need to run the opening round of either event. All total, he will run four races in four days if he makes the final of both events. And while he’d be a longshot to win the 400m even if he was fresh, the accumulation of races will put his 400m hurdle title in jeopardy.
Because You Can Get A Glimpse At One Of Galen Rupp’s Closest Competitors In The Marathon…..
Sondre Nordstad Moen of Norway burst on to the marathoning scene last December when he broke the European record, running 2:05.48 in Fukuoka. That put Moen alongside Rupp on an extremely short list of runners outside of Kenya or Ethiopia who can contend for major marathon victories.
Interestingly enough, Moen’s first race since the 2:05 won’t be in said major marathon, but in these European Championships.
This field, however, does offer some strong competition. Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands and Tadesse Abraham of Switzerland have run 2:08 and 2:06, respectively. Though this is a lower-profile than running that other marathon in Berlin, it will still be a test to see if Moen has staying power in the event.
Because You Can See If Any Of Shelby Houlihan’s Rivals Can Beat Her This Season…...
It’s a realistic proposition that Shelby Houlihan runs the table in her remaining races and pulls off an undefeated outdoor season. If someone is going to beat her in the remaining Diamond League races, it will probably be one of the women in action in Berlin—Laura Muir of Great Britain or Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands. Muir is in the 1500m and Hassan the 5000m.
Both women are expected to take gold, but it will be interesting if Muir or Hassan show any lasting signs of racing Houlihan this year.
#4 US ALL-TIME for SHELBY HOULIHAN!!! 3:57.34!! pic.twitter.com/PCsMHaLJ6U— FloTrack (@FloTrack) July 5, 2018
If either woman checks behind them when they clearly have the race in hand, well that’s a clear symptom of HKS—Houlihan Kick Syndrome (other symptoms include running 10 meters past the finish line for fear of getting outkicked, nausea, and loss of sleep).
That's the effect of getting run down by Houlihan this season. She haunts your last 100 meters, even when she’s not in the race.
Because You Like Family Connections…..
The family story always plays well in the United States, the Williams sisters, the Ball brothers and the Manning family.
This meet has not one, but two, family names that are synonymous with track and field in their country. There are the Borlees of Belgium in the 400m (Kevin, Jonathan, and Dylan) and the Ingebrigtsens of Norway in the 1500m and 5000m (Jakob, Filip, and Henrik).
Choose one family to pull for, or root for both. It is remarkable to think that so much of a nation’s talent can come from one household. The Ingebrigtsen have the possibility for more medals, but the Borlees have this cool trick where they comprise 75 percent of Belgium's 4x400m relay.
Because Great Britain Might Be The Only Nation Standing In The Way Of American Men’s Sprint Dominance……
If you are taking the long bet on the possibility of the United States maybe, possibly pulling off a sweep in the 100m and 4x100m relay at either the 2019 World Championships or the 2020 Olympics, then the nation to watch for is Great Britain. This will take some adjusting as the current generation of track and field fans has grown accustomed to the U.S./Jamaica rivalry.
But right now, if anyone stops the United States it’s the British. Their depth is potent in the 4x100m and Reece Prescod and Zharnel Hughes are both young enough to develop into consistent challengers against Christian Coleman, Noah Lyles, and Ronnie Baker.
Because All The Best Javelin Throwers In World Will Be In Berlin…….
This event, more than any other, doesn’t really need anybody from outside of Europe to be great. So if you like seeing the best in track and field—and why wouldn't you?—then go all in on the javelin.
On the start list in Berlin are throwers that have put up the top 25 marks of 2018. Most of those come from the German triumvirate of Andreas Hofmann, Thomas Rohler, and Johannes Vetter—together those three make up the best nine throws of the year. Beyond the Germans, the next best three on the year are also European, Magnus Kirt (Estonia), Jakub Vadlejch (Czech Republic) and Oliver Helander (Finland).
In short, it’s the Olympics/World Championships/Diamond League final of the men’s javelin.