In their 2016 Diamond League debuts, David Rudisha and Nick Symmonds both disappoint in the 800 meters, but the race starter should take most of the blame for that.
Diamond League action continued over the weekend with a star-studded meet in Shanghai that produced several world-leading marks and national records. Kenya had one of the strongest showings, with victories in the men’s 800, women’s 1,500 and women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase. The United States men traveled well, too, as they topped the 100, 400-meter hurdles, pole vault and shot put.
Here are some key takeaways from the meet as the road to Rio continues:
Down goes David Rudisha
The Olympic champion and world record holder in the 800 meters opened his Diamond League season with his biggest loss since May 2014. Fellow Kenyan Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich won in 1:45.68, and Robert Biwott, Alfred Kipketer and Thijmen Kupers (Netherlands) finished ahead of Rudisha as well.
However, don’t panic about Rudisha, because this race should have an asterisk next to it. Blame for this loss should fall largely on the race starter, who fired the starting gun a few seconds too early with neither Rudisha nor the pacemaker ready to race, and the field was never called back for a re-start. Watch below.
American Nick Symmonds, a two-time Olympian, finished way back in 10th place in 1:48.39. Again, there may be little reason to panic: last year Symmonds opened the season with a 1:49.81 but went on to win the U.S. title in July.
Faith Kipyegon steals the show
Setting a national record in a distance event for Kenya is a major accomplishment, but that’s just what Kipyegon, last year’s 1,500-meter world championship silver medalist, did in her first race of 2016. Kipyegon’s winning time of 3:56.82, which was beat by only three women last year, brings her into the conversation as a potential challenger to Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba (who owns the world record of 3:50.07) for the Olympic gold medal.
American Jenny Simpson struggled in the 1,500 meters, running 4:04.56 for sixth place. Simpson has shown that she can dominate against Americans but in her most recent international races she appears to have taken a step back from her 2011 and ’13 form, which earned her world championship medals.
Ethiopians shine over 5,000 meters
Muktar Edris won a hotly contested men’s 5,000 meters in 12:59.96, a victory which may have big implications for the Ethiopian national team selection. The race, which featured eight Ethiopians, came down to a final-lap sprint. Edris’s 55.5 prevailed, making the 22-year-old the first man to clock under 13 minutes in 2016. 17-year-old Abadi Embaye, the second Ethiopian across the line, finished fourth overall in 13:02.49, and 18-year-old Yomif Kejelcha finished fifth in 13:03.29. We may see a very young Ethiopian track squad in Rio.
Omar McLeod continues his dominance
McLeod is the early nod for Olympic favorite in the 110-meter hurdles—unless the Americans start creeping closer to the 13-second barrier. The Jamaican star has not lost in 2016 and dominated in Shanghai with a 12.98.
Other track and field leaders set impressive marks and opened their seasons in the Western Hemisphere. We’ll start with the man everyone will be watching in Brazil:
Usain Bolt opens his season with the usual
Nothing to see here. Bolt’s 10.05 in the 100 meters was good enough for the win at the Cayman Invitational, but it’s far from his expected results this summer. Next, the world-record holder heads to the Golden Spike Meet in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where a match-up against Ashton Eaton awaits. It’s an intriguing race—but no-contest, according to the decathlon world-record holder himself.
Meanwhile, American Justin Gatlin took the win in Shanghai in 9.94. The proxy race between Gatlin and Bolt, when you read results from meets across the world, is not as enticing as it was in 2015.
Buffalo Bills WR soars to new length
Marquise Goodwin jumped a new personal best and world-leading mark of 8.45 meters over the weekend. His previous personal best of 8.33, set at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, was good enough to win gold in London, but he struggled and finished 10th in the final. Only one person jumped farther than 8.45 in 2015, which puts Goodwin in a good spot to make his second Olympic team despite taking a break from the sandpit from August 2012 to July ’15.
Four Olympic teams for Chaunte Lowe?
Chaunte Lowe, the three-time Olympic high jumper, matched the Olympic standard and a new world-leading mark of 1.93 at the test event for the track and field stadium in Rio de Janeiro. She now looks to have a good chance of competing there. Bishop Gorman High School (Nev.) senior Vashti Cunningham, daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, won the world indoor championship gold medal and is the top American hopeful.