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The final Diamond League meet of 2019 — and one of the last remaining checkpoints before the World Championships in Doha — takes place Friday in Brussels. Here’s a rundown of what to watch for.
Men’s 400m: Rematch/Pre-Match For Michael Norman & Fred Kerley
The two best men in the world haven’t raced since Kerley beat Norman at USAs at the end of July. Their lack of racing has left the following questions to linger:
-Is Norman fully healthy after missing training before USAs?
-How much did that injury impact Norman in Des Moines? What will he look like at 100 percent?
-Can Kerley back up his 43.64 from USAs?
-Will anyone stand out in the race for bronze?
All of it should be answered on Friday in Brussels. Norman’s 43.45 in April set the bar astronomically high for this season, while Kerley kept a low-profile in 2019 before the surprise at USAs. Whoever wins will have "favorite" status heading into the World Championships.
The rest of the field is populated by Americans and Jamaicans with Nathan Strother (third at USAs), Kahmari Montgomery, Michael Cherry, Obi Igbokwe, Akeem Bloomfield, and Nathon Allen. If Kerley, Norman, or Strother win, the United States would get to send Vernon Norwood as a fourth entrant to the World Championships.
Women’s 100m: Another 10.7 For Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce?
It’s been a throwback season for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and if she can close out the final month of the season, it might end up being the best of her career. She’s run 10.73, 10.74, and 10.78 in 2019 and convincingly won her last three 100m races.
Her lifetime best of 10.70 is well within reach, and her only equal this year has been Elaine Thompson. Thompson won’t be in this race, leaving the biggest challenge to come from Dina Asher-Smith and Marie-Josee Ta Lou. They’ve had good seasons, but neither has broken 10.9. The U.S. has one entrant in Aleia Hobbs.
Men’s 3000m Steeplechase: Does A Favorite Emerge?
After wins in Monaco and Paris, Soufiane El Bakkali looked like the man to beat in this event. But last week, he took third at the African Games behind Benjamin Kigen and Getnet Wale. Nothing is for certain in this event; 2005 was the last time someone not representing Kenya won a men’s global steeplechase title (you have to go back to 1987 if you include athletes who were born in Kenya). That streak is in jeopardy in 2019. El Bakkali (Morocco) and Wale (Ethiopia) are threats to win both in Brussels and Doha.
Not even a bleeding foot could stop Soufiane El Bakkali from winning.— IAAF (@iaaforg) August 24, 2019
The Moroccan claims his third 3000m steeplechase Diamond League victory of the season in 8:06.64.
⏱: https://t.co/PerlfWkMhV pic.twitter.com/7MMm7zKsQd
Ethiopia also has two more sub-8:10 runners in Chala Beyo and Lamecha Girma. Kenya, who has yet to select their team, has six entrants in Brussels and will want to put up a strong showing before the medals are on the line at the end of the month.
Men’s 200m: Lyles Goes For The Diamond League Sprint Sweep
Last week in Zurich, Lyles won the Christian Coleman-less 100m. In Brussels, he returns to his better event, the 200m. There’s very little doubt on the outcome. Lyles has been in championship form virtually all season and has shown no sign of receding. His 19.65 in Paris was 0.15 off his personal best, but with no competition and off a break from the U.S. Championships, it was mighty impressive. If the weather cooperates, something fast is on tap.
Noah Lyles is unstoppable💎🥇— FloTrack (@FloTrack) August 29, 2019
This is the same track where Yohan Blake ran 19.26. The focus for Lyles is still on Doha, but he’s shown he can still run historic times at all the pit stops along the way.
If he does get the win, American Kenny Bednarek would advance to the World Championships by virtue of being the highest placing American at the U.S. Championships who possessed the qualifying standard.
Women’s 5000m: Can Sifan Hassan Finally Beat Hellen Obiri In The 5000m?
Sifan Hassan has beaten Hellen Obiri before, but never in a 5000m. Hassan will try to rectify her 0-4 record against the 2017 world champion on Friday. In their last race, Obiri ran 14:20.36 in London to defeat Hassan, who placed third. But overall, Hassan has had the better season. She crushed Obiri and the rest of the field in a 3000m at the Prefontaine Classic, set the world record in the mile, and won the Diamond League title in the 1500m.
This race might also serve as a test run on what event, or events, Hassan chooses to race at World Championships. The 1500m/5000m double isn’t possible with the schedule, leaving Hassan with five possible options:
-10,000m and 5000m
-10,000m and 1500m
Whatever she decides will have a ripple effect on the medal chase in three different events. Agnes Tirop finished between Obiri and Hassan in London and is capable of pulling off the win.
Konstanze Klosterhalfen has shown similar range to Hassan this year. She ran a 14:26 at her national championships and finished second to Hassan in the 1500m at Zurich.
Men’s Triple Jump: Christian Taylor vs Will Claye
Dating back to February 2009, the record between the two is 25-23 with the advantage to Taylor. Claye won their last meeting with an 18.09m leap in Paris. That was Claye’s second jump over 18 meters this year after his massive 18.14m at the end of June. With that jump, Claye put the world record of 18.29m on notice.
Will Claye jumped yesterday a new PB and World Lead of 18.14m (59-6.25)! The 3rd longest jump all-time! 😱🤯 pic.twitter.com/6MeAJwdKil— Jumpers World (@_jumpersworld) June 30, 2019
Taylor’s best jump is a 17.82m from Monaco, but he has the number two jump of all time, 18.21m.
Men’s 110 Hurdles: Daniel Roberts’ Endless Season Continues
The NCAA runner-up won his first Diamond League in Paris and is one of the favorites for gold. This event has been split into two groups since the beginning of the season: the record-breaking collegians (Roberts and Grant Holloway) and the established pros (Sergey Shubenkov, Omar McLeod, Orlando Ortega).
Roberts and Holloway have faster times, but the veterans have been coming on at the end of season. McLeod just ran 13.07 in Berlin, though he won’t be in this race. Shubenkov struggled in Paris and will be looking to bounce back.
Men’s 1500m: Timothy Cheruiyot Goes For 5 In A Row
Cheruiyot has only lost three times in the last two years, and he hasn’t finished lower than second during that time period. He has a tough field lined up next to him on Friday, but he will be the favorite once again. Ronald Musagala has won his last two appearances, showing good closing speed down the stretch.
Friday will also be another chance for Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win his first Diamond League meet. He finished fourth, one spot behind his brother Filip, in Paris. The Americans will have two entrants with U.S. champion Craig Engels and Johnny Gregorek. Engels was third in Birmingham two weeks ago.
Women’s 100m Hurdles: World Championship Implications All Over The Place
Danielle Williams and Keni Harrison will race for the fourth time this year. Williams won their last race by a comfortable margin after Harrison won their first two meetings. Harrison owns the world record, but Williams’ 12.32 is the best in the world this year. This race will also greatly impact the World Championships depending on who takes the victory.
Sharika Nelvis was the first one out at USAs in fourth place but could get on the team if she pulls off the upset in Brussels. Victories by Harrison or Nia Ali also push Nelvis on the team because they’ve already qualified for the World Championships. American Christina Clemons could also get a ticket to Doha if she’s able to win the race.
Women’s 800m: Can Ajee Wilson Keep The Momentum Going?
Wilson has been the best in the world in the 800m ever since Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba were ruled ineligible. Natoya Goule gave her a run in Monaco and Lynsey Sharp was somewhat in the neighborhood in London, but Wilson has been too consistent to be stopped. It’s hard to see that changing in this race.
The entire American trio for the World Championships is entered here: Wilson, Hanna Green, and Raevyn Rogers. If any of them win, the U.S. gets a fourth entrant in Ce’Aira Brown.