Preview of the New York Diamond League meeting
Last night’s Samsung Diamond League meeting in Oslo was hampered not only by the rain, but also the close scheduling of the New York adidas Grand Prix on June 11. And in the race to get the world’s top sprint stars, the second US Diamond League meeting definitely won.
The world’s two fastest men this year – neither of which is Usain Bolt – are set to clash over 100m. American record-holder Tyson Gay will face the rapidly improving Steve Mullings, who has already this year reduced his PB from 10.01 to 9.80, set when winning the Pre Classic last week. Gay, meanwhile, tops the world lists with a performance that is 0.01 faster, set on the same day at a low-key meeting in Florida.
Last year’s clash between Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell-Brown over 200m was one of the highlights of the New York meeting. Felix is back in the Big Apple, but while Campbell-Brown won’t be present the American will have a tough time against world and Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who earlier in the year defeated two-time Olympic champion Campbell-Brown over her specialist distance on home soil with a windy 22.10.
Also in the race will be Carmelita Jeter, who leads this year’s world 100m rankings with 10.70, and USA’s Bianca Knight, who defeated Felix at the Diamond League meeting in Rome.
World champion Phillips Idowu and world indoor champion Teddy Tamgho have not yet faced each other this year. Both triple jumpers have an unbeaten streak this year, but for at least one of them that record will come to an end in New York in one of the most eagerly-awaited head-to-heads of the meeting. Tamgho won at this meeting last year with his French record and world-leading 17.98m. But Idowu – who is second to Tamgho on this year’s rankings, 17.67m to 17.59m – has said that he is focusing on jumping big distances this year.
LJ van Zyl has been unbeatable all year in the 400m hurdles and has been dipping under 48 seconds for fun. Whether he can maintain that form until the World Championships is another matter entirely, but for now the South African is the man to beat. European champion Dai Greene hopes to be the athlete to defeat van Zyl, while former world champion Bershawn Jackson is also expected to challenge.
World heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis will compete in two events in New York. First up is the long jump, where she’ll face world champion Brittney Reese and European champion Ineta Radevica. A couple of hours later she will form part of a classy 100m hurdles field alongside UK record-holder Tiffany Ofili as the national mark of 12.77 could once again be threatened. The field also includes world leader Kellie Wells, world indoor champion Lolo Jones, former world champion Perdita Felicien and Ginnie Powell.
Blanka Vlasic is the other big-name adidas athlete on show in New York. Although she has won all of her competitions this year, the Croatian has not yet found her usual dominant form which in the past has seen her break two metres on 98 occasions.
Former world and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner has not had the best of luck in his last two races, pulling up in Ponce and being beaten by Angelo Taylor in Eugene. He’ll hope to return to winning ways in New York, but Jamaican record-holder Jermaine Gonzales will post a strong threat, as will world leader Rondell Bartholomew and Britain’s European silver medallist Michael Bingham. Ethiopian youngster Bereket Desta, who earlier this year clocked 44.79, is an interesting addition to the field.
Milcah Chemos is on course to successfully defend her 3000m steeplechase Diamond League title from last year, but she will have to be on top form in New York to hold off the expected challenge from Ethiopian record-holder Sofia Assefa and Kenya’s Lydia Rotich. World record-holder and Olympic champion Gulnara Galkina makes her long-awaited return after childbirth last year.
World indoor champion Abubaker Kaki recently eclipsed the world-leading mark set earlier in the year by arch rival David Rudisha. While the world record-holder continues to rehab his way back from injury, Kaki has been in great form and is expected the win the men’s 800m in New York. Meanwhile, the women’s 1500m will see Ethiopian duo Gelete Burka and Kalkedan Gezahegn do battle.
American record-holder Bernard Lagat has not contested a 5000m since an early-season win in Melbourne in March. The field in New York will be a much tougher test for the veteran as he’ll face eight sub-13 men including Ethiopia’s Dejene Gebremeskel, world junior indoor record-holder Isaiah Koech and Olympic bronze medallist Edwin Soi.
In the field events, world leader Renaud Lavillenie takes on current Diamond League leader Malte Mohr in the pole vault, Christina Obergfoell is the big favourite in the women’s javelin, and Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton faces a competitive albeit slightly weak field in the discus.
Of the non-Diamond League events, good fields have been assembled in the women’s 100m and 400m. In the short sprint, 10.86 runner Marshevet Myers faces double Olympic finalist Muna Lee, sub-11 runner Damola Osayomi, and the in-form Murielle Ahoure. The longer sprint features USA’s Francena McCorory, hurdles specialist Kaliese Spencer, Olympic finalist Rosemarie Whyte and Britain’s Shana Cox.
The New York Diamond League on June 11 will be shown by the BBC online and on the red button from 8-10pm