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The Weekend's Best Matchups for August 29-September 2

The Weekend’s Best Matchups for August 29-September 2

| On 29, Aug 2013

Zurich’s “Letzi” awaits the Weltklasse.

This is an unusually long weekend, starting with Thursday’s Diamond League final in Zurich and stretching out to Monday’s USATF 20k Championships. Let’s take a look at the best matchups coming your way over those five days.

1. Tirunesh Dibaba vs Meseret Defar

5000 meters, Zurich Weltklasse
Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich SUI
Thursday, 8:13pm local time (2:13pm ET)

Watch live from 2:00pm (ET) on Universal Sports or at UniversalSports.com, watchathletics.com or trackie.ca
Schedule, start lists, live results

Dibaba and Defar are basically the two greatest women’s distance runners of all time. They are the two fastest in history at 5k and are both in the all-time top five at 10k, and between them they have five Olympic and eight World Championships gold medals. For unknown (and unimaginable) reasons, the Ethiopian federation barred them from trying the Worlds 5k/10k double and each ran only one of those distances, which of course they both won. So this race is for the undisputed title of Best Runner In The World–plus a cool $50,000. And they really don’t like each other.
Let’s Run: An Incredible Women’s 5000: Meseret Defar versus Tirunesh Dibaba at last

2. Jenny Simpson vs Molly Huddle vs American Record

5000 meters, Zurich Weltklasse
Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich SUI
Thursday, 8:13pm local time (2:13pm ET)

Huddle just finished sixth at the World Championships, perhaps her best race since setting the American Record three years ago. Simpson’s 2013 season is the best of her career, capped by a Worlds silver medal in the 1500. This is not specifically set up as an American Record attempt, but the pace should be fast (see: Dibaba vs Defar) and both athletes are at the top of their games.
Let’s Run: Mark Wetmore on Jenny Simpson Zurich 5000m

3. Kirani James vs LaShawn Merritt

400 meters, Zurich Weltklasse
Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich SUI
Thursday, 9:20pm local time (3:20pm ET)

James and Merritt have split their four meetings this year but Merritt got the big win at the World Championships. There’s a lot riding on this rematch, not the least of which is $50,000 ($10,00 for the win and $40,000 for taking the Diamond Race).

4. Eunice Sum vs Mariya Savinova

800 meters, Zurich Weltklasse
Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich SUI
Thursday, 9:10pm local time (3:10pm ET)

Savinova was the favorite to win the World Championships 800 meters in front of a partisan Russian crowd but Sum summoned an out-of-nowhere PR of two full seconds to steal the gold. The Kenyan proved it was no fluke by winning the Diamond League race in Stockholm a week ago, but Savinova is looking for revenge.

5. Unsettled Diamond Races

The Zurich Weltklasse meet functions as one of the two Diamond League finals. A few Diamond Races have already been clinched but most are still up in the air. The most hotly contested include the women’s 5k (see #1) and men’s 400 meters (see #3) but there are others. The women’s pole vault is a three-way battle between Yarisley Silva, Silke Spiegelburg and Jenn Suhr and is all but assured to go to the Weltklasse winner. Brittney Reese and Blessing Okagbare are tied at the top of the long jump standings with Shara Proctor just one point behind, and again the winner on Thursday will take the season crown. The women’s 200 and 800 meter races are wide open, with almost every competitor close enough to the lead to have a shot at winning the Diamond Race.

6. Sandra Perkovic and Zuzana Hejnova vs clean sweeps

On the other end of the dial are the athletes who have totally dominated the Diamond League. Perkovic and Hejnova have entered and won all six Diamond League competitions in the discus and 400 meters respectively. In the old Golden League, they’d be fighting for $1 million. Perkovic hasn’t been challenged at all (she’s led for 32 of the 36 rounds of competition) and Hejnova’s best time this year is a full second better than that of any other entrant.

7. USA versus Russia

DecaNation
Stade Georges Pompidou, Valence FRA
Saturday, 4:40pm local time (10:40am ET)

Watch live from 12:00pm ET at watchathletics.com
Meet website

The DecaNation is a multi-nation competition featuring men and women competing in the classic decathlon events (plus a few other events) with national team scoring. This year’s competitors are France, USA, Russia, Germany, Italy, Cuba, and combined teams representing the Balkans and the Nordic countries. The USA and Russia have been first and second in each of the last three years.
EAA: Get ready for DecaNation

8. Tatjana Lysenko vs Anita Wlodarczyk vs Betty Heidler

Hammer throw, ISTAF
Olympiastadion, Berlin GER
Sunday, 3:12pm local time (9:12am ET)

Watch from 10:00am ET at watchathletics.com
Meet website

These are the world’s three best hammer throwers. Heidler is the world record holder but folded up at the Worlds while Lysenko and Wlodarczyk battled with two of the five longest throws in history.

9. Abdi Abdirahman vs Matt Tegenkamp

USATF 20k Championships
New Haven CT
Monday, 8:40am

Watch live at Runnerspace.com

These are the two biggest names in the men’s race and, based on this year’s racing results, are probably the favorites to compete for the win. Abdirahman, aka the “Black Cactus”, is a four-time Olympian, and Tegenkamp has been a finalist at five straight Worlds and Olympics. Abdirahman is an old pro at these longer distances while Teg is still learning.

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