Nick Symmonds, Jenny Simpson open international campaigns in Shanghai
It will be difficult to top the 12 world-leading marks set at the meet in Doha, Qatar, last week but there’s plenty to look forward to at the next stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, in Shanghai tomorrow.
With about 10 weeks remaining until the start of the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field trials, American distance runners Nick Symmonds and Jenny Simpson will be among those opening their international campaigns in China. Kenya and Ethiopia will also send a strong contingent of Olympic and World Championship medalists for the longer distances.
The meet, which will be broadcast on BeIn Sports, begins at 11:55 a.m. ET.
Here is an in-depth look at what to expect in the Doha Diamond League’s most significant races and field events:
Men’s 400 meter hurdles
Kenya’s Nicholas Bett, who won gold at last year’s world championships, comes down from running a 50.0 at altitude in Kenya. Americans Bershawn Jackson (47.30 PB), Michael Tinsley (47.70 PB) and Kerron Clement (50.17) will get their first look at Bett.
Women’s 1,500 meters
U.S. star Jenny Simpson will face international talent for the first time this outdoor season after opening her 2016 campaign with a 4:06 win at the Drake Relays over some strong American runners. The 2011 world champion and 2013 silver medalist did not medal at last year’s world championships after losing her shoe, but lowered her personal best during the season to 3:57.22. Her top challengers at Shanghai will include Kenya’s Helen Obiri (3:57.05) and Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyum (3:59.53).
Watch last year's world championship final:
Men’s 100 meters
World championship silver medalist Justin Gatlin of the U.S. (9.74 PB) is the favorite, although his times of 9.90 and 10.02 to start the season have not been especially impressive—at least compared to his first two races in 2015, which produced a 9.74 and a 9.75. With Gatlin’s focus on redeeming himself at the Olympics after losing to Bolt, this may be one of the few occasions for someone like compatriot Michael Rodgers (9.85 PB) to beat him. Gatlin has not lost a Diamond League meet since September 2013.
Women’s 400 meters
Allyson Felix (49.26 PB) will be seeking to win both the 200 and 400 in Rio, a golden double that has not been accomplished since Michael Johnson turned the trick in 1996. Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas may be one her biggest threats in the 400. Miller ran 49.69 to open her season, at time close to her personal best of 49.67. It’s early and she is in good form. Meanwhile, Felix is recovering from an ankle injury.
Men’s 800 meters
World record holder David Rudisha of Kenya will be opening his outdoor season in Shanghai, and it will interesting to watch what type of race he seeks to engineer early in the season. He set the world record of 1:40.91 at the London Olympics and then won last year’s world title in a tactical race that went out in 54.17 and closed in 51.67 for the second lap. American Nick Symmonds opens his season sporting some new ink on his shoulder.
Women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase
There are nine Kenyans and three Ethiopians in this field but none of them was a medalist at last summer’s world championships. Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa holds the fastest personal best of the field in 9:09.00 and finished fourth at last year’s world championships.
Women’s 200 meters
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been beatable this season. She lost her season opener as she ran 23.24 in Kingston and she was a part of the Jamaican relay that fell to the U.S. at the Penn Relays. She was holding and icing her left foot after the latter race. On Thursday morning, she announced her withdrawal from the field, which leaves fans with an OK field.
Men’s 5,000 meters
Olympic and world champion Mo Farah is hard at work in Park City, Utah, with the rest of the Nike Oregon Project so we may have to wait until the Prefontaine Classic to see him. This race features four men who have run under 12:50 for 5,000. There are nine Ethiopians and four Kenyans in the field, so fans may be treated to a fast time as they round into shape for their respective trials. It will be particularly exciting to see how Ethiopia’s young guns 22-year-old Hagos Gebriwhet (12:47.52 PB) and 18-year-old Yomif Kejelcha (12:53.98 PB) fare in this company.
Men’s 110-meter hurdles
Omar McLeod (12.97 PB) is on a tear in 2016 and may soon be the favorite for gold in Rio. In April the former Arkansas Razorback from Jamaica uncorked a 9.99 100 meters to become the first athlete to go sub-10.00 for the 100 and sub-13.00 for the 110-meter hurdles. He has won his first two hurdles races, at the Drake Relays and Doha Diamond League. Americans Aries Merritt (13.37 SB, 12.80 PB & WR), still making his comeback from a kidney transplant, and 2013 world champion David Oliver (13.16 SB, 12.89 PB) will continue to push McLeod.