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Oslo Diamond League: Locks, Duels, and Wide Open

Oslo Diamond League: Locks, Duels, and Wide Open

| On 10, Jun 2014

This week brings us a ton of high-level action. Two Diamond League meets, the NCAA Championships, the all-women’s Oakley Mini 10k, the New Balance Outdoor Nationals high school championships, the Portland Track Classic, and the kickoff meet to Canada’s National Track League all take place between tomorrow and Sunday. Whew!

So today I’m just taking a look at tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games, the Oslo stop on the Diamond League tour. The meet kicks off in Norway at 5:30pm (11:30am in the Eastern time zone). You can follow the meet via the Diamond League website or the Diamond League smartphone app.

TV and web coverage is from 2:00 to 4:00 ET (8:00 to 10:00 in Oslo). US television coverage will be on Universal Sports. Webcasts for those who don’t have Universal Sports access can be found at WatchAthletics.com and Trackie.ca.

So which events are locks for someone to win? Which are battles between two athletes? And which events are wide open?

Wide open

Men’s 100 meters
3:50 pm ET
Start list
Only one of the entrants, France’s Jimmy Vicaut, has scored a single point in the two Diamond League 100 meter races this year. Fast times have been recorded recently by Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (Norway) and Richard Thomson (Trinidad). World Indoor 60 meter champ Richard Kilty (Great Britain) is racing and so is the ageless Kim Collins (St. Kitts). Any of these five could win.

Men’s 5000 meters
2:58pm ET
Start list
This has to be filed under “wide open” just because there are twenty runners on the start list. The favorites include the winners of the year’s two Diamond League races, Yenew Alamirew (Ethiopia) and Caleb Ndiku (Kenya). American Galen Rupp has the world’s fastest times at both 5000 meters (from indoor season) and 10,000 meters. Any of a number of others could challenge for the win: Edwin Soi (Kenya), Albert Rop (Kenya), Dejen Gebremeskel (Ethiopia) and Thomas Longosiwa (Kenya) are the leading candidates.

Men’s 110 meter Hurdles
3:20pm ET
Start list
The high hurdles is always a wide open race. The six biggest races of 2014 have produced five different winners; only Hansle Parchment (Jamaica) has more than won win under his belt. He and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (France) have the year’s best times, but I could also see Ryan Wilson (USA), Sergey Shubenkov (Russia) or William Sharman (Great Britain) pulling off the win.

Men’s Javelin
2:33pm ET
Start list
The javelin has a reputation as an event plagued by inconsistency. That’s great for fans because unpredictability is entertaining. The javelin is hugely popular in Scandinavia and they’ve assembled all of the world’s best for this competition. Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman came out of nowhere, Carl Spackler-style, at the Shanghai Diamond League meet with the longest throw in several years, but hasn’t yet been able to show that it wasn’t a one-off miracle. Other favorites include Tero Pitkamaki (Finland), Vitezslav Vesely (Czech Republic), and home favorite Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway).

Women’s Long Jump
2:10pm ET
Start list
Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic finished first and second in the first two Diamond League meets, but several others could challenge for the win here. US sprinter Tianna Bartoletta just put up the world leading mark and returns to the event in which she won the 2005 World Championships gold medal. Fellow American Janay DeLoach Soukup is highly consistent but spent most of the early season running the hurdles and is getting off to a slow start. Russians Darya Klishina and Olga Kucherenko are contenders too.

Duels

Paul Koech and Jarius Birech
Men’s steeplechase, 2:15pm ET
Start list
Koech and Birech are two of the top three or four steeplers at this moment in time, and the other two aren’t here. Koech beat Birech at the World Challenge meet in Beijing last month, and then Birech turned the tables last Thursday in Rome. If one of them has an advantage, it’s Koech. He skipped the Kenyan trials meet on Saturday that Birech won and comes in a bit better rested.

Amantle Montsho and Novlene Williams-Mills
Women’s 400 meters, 2:38pm ET
Start list
Bostwana’s Montsho has been the best quarter-miler of the last few years but hasn’t scored a major win yet in 2014. Jamaica’s Williams-Mills won both of this year’s Diamond League races in this event. Their 2014 bests are nearly half a second faster than those of any other entrant.

Murielle Ahoure and Allyson Felix
Women’s 200 meters, 3:28pm ET
Start list
Felix is taking a gradual approach back to racing after tearing a hamstring last year, and she might be able to get her first win of the year. To do that she’ll have to get past Murielle Ahoure, who won World Indoor silver in the 60 meters and finished fourth in the 200 at the Prefontaine Classic (just behind Felix).

Will Claye and Christian Taylor
Men’s Triple Jump, noon ET
Start list
Claye and Taylor took first and second almost too often to count while teammates at the University of Florida, and did the same at the 2012 Olympics. They went 1-2 at the last two Diamond League meets, in Rome and Eugene, and no one else appears ready to challenge the pair.

Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa
Men’s Shot Put, 12:40pm ET
Start list
There are a lot of good shot putters in this competition, including World Champion David Storl (Germany), but only two appear up to the challenge of winning. Cantwell won the first three major competitions of the outdoor season, and Hoffa won the last two. This is a pair of familiar competitors; it’s the 131st time they’ve competed against each other.

Anna Chicherova and Mariya Kuchina
Women’s High Jump, 1:55pm ET
Start list
These are the only two women who have jumped 2.01 meters (6′ 7″) in 2014. Chicherova won the only meet she’s entered this year, the Prefontaine Classic, and Kuchina tied for gold at the World Indoor Championships.

One-Man Shows

Ayanleh Souleiman
Men’s Dream Mile, 3:36pm ET
Start list
Souleiman has run four major races so far this year–the World Indoor Championships and Diamond League meets in Doha, Eugene, and Rome–and has two wins, a second, and a third. Only one other entrant, Nick Willis, has finished in the top four of any of those races.

Renaud Lavillenie
Men’s Pole Vault, 12:40pm ET
Start list
The pole vault is not an event that lends itself to consistency, but Lavillenie is as close to a lock as you can get in this event. Not only does Lavillenie have ten wins in ten starts this year, he broke Sergey Bubka’s “unbreakable” indoor world record.

Sandra Perkovic
Women’s Discus, 11:30am ET
Start list
Perkovic lost just once over the last two years and putting up distances not seen in more than twenty years, and she was barely ever behind for the entire 2014 season. She’s as much of a lock as there is in track and field right now.

Kaliese Spencer
Women’s 400 meter Hurdles, 2:05pm ET
Start list
Spencer’d three Diamond League races this year have given her two wins and a second. The lone loss was the first one, where the upset winner was Nigerian-turned-Qatari Kemi Adekoya. She is in this race as well but I don’t think lightning will strike twice.

Eunice Sum
Women’s 800 meters, 2:30pm ET
Start list
Sum won last year’s World Championships gold medal, won Saturday’s Kenyan trials meet, and is two-for-two in Diamond League 800 meter races. Her times aren’t always flashy but she knows how to get the job done.

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