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The Diamond League is back from its hiatus for national championships with Birmingham on tap this weekend.
Here’s a look at five events to watch on Sunday:
The last event of the meet should be the best. Shaunae Miller-Uibo has raced sparingly in 2019, but her results thus far foreshadow something big. In her only Diamond League appearance of the year, she won the 200m in Monaco. Her time of 22.09 was the third-fastest on the season behind Blessing Okagbare’s (22.02) and Elaine Thompson’s (22.00). With the field assembled on Sunday, we could see the first sub-22 time of the season.
Okagbare, Dina Asher-Smith, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Dafne Schippers, Marie-Josee Ta Lou, and Dezerea Bryant make this deepest women’s 200m of the year. The fast starts from Bryant and Fraser-Pryce will put pressure on Miller-Uibo early. Miller-Uibo is still the favorite, but in a race with this many women capable of something special, there’s a good bet that one of them has a great day.
Could it be Asher-Smith, who has run 21.89? Or maybe Schippers will get back to the form that took her to consecutive world titles in the 200m.
Ajee Wilson has won four of her last five 800m finals and should add another win on Sunday. It’s not that the field is a pushover, but Wilson has been so consistent this year. With Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba presumably out for the rest of the season, Wilson has a clear run at gold.
On Sunday, her best competition should come from Natoya Goule, who was second to Wilson in Monaco and stuck with Wilson all the way to the line. Raevyn Rogers, third at USAs, and Kate Grace, fifth in the 1500m at USAs, round out the American entrants.
Christian Coleman is the heavy favorite, a role with which he’s becoming increasingly familiar. If the weather cooperates, a sub-9.80 is possible. In his last appearance, times were slowed because of subpar conditions in Des Moines. Still, Coleman managed a comfortable 9.96 in the semifinals.
Aside from Coleman’s time, keep tabs on the race for second. Can Yohan Blake crack his season-best of 9.96? Will we see another good run from Christopher Belcher after his clutch performance at USAs? Can Andre De Grasse regain momentum after a pair of defeats at the Canadian championships?
Women’s 100m Hurdles
The world record holder and world leader face off in the women’s high hurdles. Danielle Williams’ 12.32 is tops in the world this season and put her in the conversation for a gold medal in Doha (that, of course, is dependent on whether or not she is able to compete at the World Championships at all).
But Keni Harrison is 2-0 against Williams this season and is coming on at the right time. She ran 12.44 into a headwind to win the U.S. title in Des Moines. That came after a 12.43 in Monaco. Fast times are coming for Harrison.
Overall, this is a deep field. Second and third place at USAs (Nia Ali and Brianna McNeal) are on the start list as is the NCAA champion, Janeek Brown of Jamaica. Keep your eye on Queen Claye and Christina Clemons. They finished outside the top three at USAs, but with some late-season Diamond League magic they could still make their way to Doha.
Compared to 2018, the women’s steeplechase has been quiet thus far. Beatrice Chepkoech has run 8:55 — fastest in the world by far, but still 11 seconds off her world record. She has also won two of the three Diamond League races. The only woman to beat her, Norah Jeruto, will get the chance to do it again on Sunday in Birmingham.
In sum, this race functions as a precursor for the Kenyan trials with Chepkoech, Jeruto, Celliphine Chespol, Daisy Jepkemei, and Hyvin Kiyeng all on the start list.
This race is missing the biggest American names. Emma Coburn, Courtney Frerichs, and Colleen Quigley have all taken a pass. Instead, the only U.S. steepler in the field is Mel Lawrence, who was sixth at USAs.