27 juli, 2018

Monaco & London: Five Talking Points

  • © Philippe Fitte

  • © Kirby Lee

  • © Philippe Fitte

Chepkoech's world record, Harrison's fearsome victory and a three-way winner takes all in the pole vault. It was an incredible bumper weekend of IAAF Diamond League action in Monaco and London, so here's what we took away from Meeting Herculis and the Müller Anniversary Games.

1. Chepkoech earns favourite tag - 3000m steeplechase

Beatrice Chepkoech stunned the world in Monaco as she obliterated the world record in a jaw-dropping 8:44.32. It was also her second victory on the Road To The Final, drawing her level on wins, if not on points, with Hyvin Kiyeng. Kiyeng has narrowly missed out on the Diamond Trophy in recent years, and will be no pushover when the two women meet in the IAAF Diamond League Final in Brussels, but after her incredible night in Monaco, there is simply no doubt about it: Chepkoech is the undisputed favourite. 

2. Harrison throws down the gauntlet - 100m hurdles

What a battle it was in the women's 100m hurdles in London. Returning to the scene of her world record two years ago, Keni Harrison was out to prove to standings leader Brianna McNeal that she too is on absolutely top form this season. McNeal had won three times on the Road To The Final before London, and won her heat in a faster time than Harrison won hers, only to be left in the shadows by the world record holder in the race proper. Both women have qualified for the Final, and it seems a good bet that they will be the two battling it out for the Diamond Trophy. That said, you'd be a fool to write off anyone else in the 100m hurdles this year, which has reached an extraordinarily high level of competition this year. So high, in fact, that big names such as Jasmin Stowers, Isabelle Pedersen and Alina Talay have all missed out on direct qualification for the Final.

3. All to jump for between Kendricks, Duplantis and Lavillenie - pole vault

Another hugely competitive event this year is the men's pole vault, where the Diamond Trophy could quite plausibly go to any one of three athletes, even if all of them are on top form on the day of the Final. Renaud Lavillenie, Mondo Duplantis and Sam Kendricks are all jumping beautifully in the Diamond League this season. Not only can everyone beat everyone, but everyone has beaten everyone so far. The competition in London was indicative of that, as Lavillenie looked in full control until 5.86m, before Sam Kendricks got a second wind and soared past him to 5.92m. A win which looked certain to go to the Frenchman was taken by the American, with Duplantis, who beat both of them in Stockholm not far behind. You wouldn't bet against something similar happening in the Final.

4. Korir muscles in on fight for Diamond Trophy

At the beginning of the season, it looked as if the men's 800m may get a first-time Diamond Trophy winner this season, as Wycliffe Kinyamal burst onto the scene and ran away with a points lead on the Road To The Final. Yet here, too, a fascinating battle for supremacy is raging. Multiple Diamond Trophy winner Nijel Amos picked up an excellent victory in Monaco, before Emmanuel Korir beat both Amos and Kinyamal in London, setting a new meeting record of 1:42.05. It was also a world-leading time, as Korir staked his claim among Amos' and Kinyamal's to get his hands on the prize of the season. 

5. Miller-Uibo eyes both crowns again

Shaunae Miller-Uibo is quite the sensation. Having won two Diamond Trophies (in the 200m and the 400m) last year, the Bahamian sprinter admitted in Monaco that, while she may have to choose which one she wants to defend, she is "aiming to defend both". That would be a quite extraordinary feat considering that both the 200m and 400m finals are taking place on the same evening in Zürich. But perhaps Miller-Uibo can pull even that off. She certainly showed her quality again in Monaco, storming ahead of standings leader Salwa Eid Naser to take an impressive victory in the 400m, breaking the Diamond League record with 48.97. Anything is possible. Isn't it?