Absel Kiprop

Monaco Diamond League on world record watch; preview

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The eyes of track and field will be on Kenyan Asbel Kiprop in Monaco on Friday.

The Kenyan World champion is expected to take a run at the 1500m world record in a Diamond League meet, a 16-year-old mark held by the greatest middle distance runner of all time, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj.

El Guerrouj set the mark of 3 minutes, 26 seconds on July 14, 1998. Kiprop ran 3:27.72 in Monaco last year to become the fourth fastest man of all time and spark talk of challenging 3:26.

The last Olympic track event to see a world record fall was the 110m hurdles, with Olympic champion Aries Merritt breaking it on Sept. 7, 2012.

The men’s 1500m will be the marquee event at the 10th of 14 Diamond League meets this season, but other stars are in action (broadcast coverage starts at 2 p.m. ET on Universal Sports).

Here are five events to watch (all times Eastern):

Women’s pole vault — 1:45 p.m.

Olympic champion Jenn Suhr‘s switch to a carbon pole yielded defeats in her first two Diamond League meets. Both were won by Brazilian Fabiana Murer, who may be positioning herself as the 2016 Olympic host nation’s best hope for a track and field gold medal.

Monaco will see Suhr take on not only Murer but also Olympic and World medalist Yarisley Silva of Cuba and seven of the top eight pole vaulters this year overall.

Men’s high jump — 2:05

The other world record watch comes in an event where the mark has been under pressure all season. All the usual contenders convene in Monaco — World champion Bohdan Bondarenko, Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov, World silver medalist Mutaz Barshim, Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard and Olympic bronze medalist Derek Drouin.

The world record, set by Cuban Javier Sotomayor in 1993, is 2.45m. Bondarenko and Barshim have cleared 2.42m this year (and attempted and failed at world record heights). Ukhov has cleared 2.41m, Drouin 2.4m and Kynard 2.37m.

Men’s 1500m — 2:35

Kiprop’s competition makes it no certainty he will win the race, let alone challenge El Guerrouj’s world record.

It includes the reigning Olympic and World silver medalists — Americans Leo Manzano and Matthew Centrowitz — as well as 2011 World silver medalist Kenyan Silas Kiplagat and 800m World bronze medalist Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti.

Women’s 100m — 2:45

This event is more wide open than at any time since the London Olympics. Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce hasn’t broken 11.1 this year, hampered by injury.

Instead, the world’s fastest women have been Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, who are separated by 10 years in age.

Ahye is not in the Monaco field, but Fraser-Pryce and Campbell-Brown are. As are Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and the fastest American this year, Tori Bowie, who has been sidelined by injury since running a personal best 10.91 at the U.S. Championships on June 27.

Men’s 200m — 3:35

Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay meet for the second time since the end of Gay’s doping suspension, but this time it’s over 200m, which Gatlin rarely races.

Gatlin and Gay won’t have to worry about the Jamaicans who swept the Olympic medals — Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Warren Weir — but the field does include World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell and Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade, the only man in the field who has run sub-20 this year.

Photos: Lindsey Vonn, Roger Federer play tennis in the Alps

Ryan Lochte ‘wipes away the past’ in Power Bar video

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For the second time in as many months, Ryan Lochte stars in a jocular ad making a veiled reference to his Rio Olympic gas-station incident.

The swimmer wipes away “the past” on a foggy bathroom mirror and throws a blond wig out of a sunroof in a one-minute Power Bar video published Tuesday.

The company’s tag line in the video is “Clean Start.”

“For example, I am going to recommit myself to water sports,” Lochte says in the spot.

The ad follows a December video for Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops, where Lochte starred in a spot with a closing banner that read, “Pine Bros.: In this Season of Forgiveness.”

Lochte had previously lost sponsorship deals, including with Speedo, after his Rio Olympic gas-station incident for which he was suspended through June by USA Swimming, plus for the world championships in July.

PHOTOS: Lochte set to be a father

U.S. Figure Skating Championships men’s preview

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The stage is set for Nathan Chen in Kansas City this week.

The 17-year-old is arguably the biggest favorite of any senior discipline at the U.S. Championships, looking to become the youngest U.S. men’s champion since 1966.

Chen, who boasts six quadruple jumps between his two programs, broke out at the Grand Prix Final in December by taking a silver medal. That propelled him to the top of U.S. men’s skating.

He outscored the reigning Olympic and world champions in the free skate at the Grand Prix Final in the best U.S. men’s international performance since Evan Lysacek won Olympic gold in 2010.

Chen’s chances for gold this week were boosted by the withdrawal of 2016 U.S. champion and training partner Adam Rippon due to a broken foot. And by 2015 U.S. champion Jason Brown‘s recent right leg injury.

Brown is still in the field, though, as is 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron. Chen, Brown and Aaron are vying for two spots on the team for the world championships in two months in Helsinki.

“Those are the very clear top three,” NBC Olympics analyst Johnny Weir said. “It’ll take a disaster or a performance of a lifetime for anybody else to get into that top three.”

Friday
Men’s short program — 8:30 p.m.-midnight ET, Universal HD
Sunday
Men’s free skate — 4-6 p.m., NBC

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule
PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

Nathan Chen
Age: 17
Hometown: Salt Lake City
2016 Grand Prix Final silver medalist
2016 U.S. bronze medalist
Two-time U.S. junior and novice champion

Chen came back strong this season following the first major injury of his career suffered at least year’s nationals exhibition. Hip surgery kept Chen from making his world championships debut in 2016, but he’s now poised to lead the U.S. men into Helsinki, trying to earn three Olympic berths. First, Chen goes for his first senior national title.

Tara Lipinski’s Take: Nathan is the star of the show this year. The type of talent he has doesn’t come along every day. He possibly could be on the Olympic podium next year with the technical skating he’s giving us. Artistically, his component scores, if you look at him from last nationals to this nationals, he’s a different skater. He may not be [Olympic champion Yuzuru] Hanyu yet, but he has all the makings of a great, artistic male skater. I think he’s already giving us enough, to be honest.

Jason Brown
Age: 22
Hometown: Colorado Springs
2015 U.S. champion
Fourth at 2015 World Championships

Don’t forget that Brown was one spot off the podium at the 2015 Worlds. It’s been mostly a nightmare since for the 2014 Olympic sensation. Brown missed the 2016 U.S. Championships with a back strain and revealed last week that he was off the ice for the last two weeks of December with a stress fracture in his right fibula. Brown is the only man in this week’s field who has been within 40 points of Chen’s best total score this season.

Johnny Weir’s Take: Now that Adam Rippon is out, the artistic challenger, if he can land a quad, is Jason Brown. He’s won the national title before. He knows what it takes and what that kind of pressure feels like. That is an advantage he has over Nathan Chen. If he lands the quad and creates that artistic moment, he is very favored in the U.S. by the judging panel. He will need a quad toe loop if he’s going to hold off Nathan Chen.

Max Aaron
Age: 24
Hometown: Colorado Springs
2013 U.S. champion
2015 Skate America champion

Aaron may be the best pure athlete in the field. He has finished in the top four at nationals each of the last four years, but it’ll probably take top two this week to earn a world championships spot. He’ll likely have to beat the injured Brown.

Johnny Weir’s Take: He has great skating skills. He’s a wonderful athlete. But I don’t think his free program especially is strong enough choreographically to challenge either Nathan Chen or Jason Brown.

Grant Hochstein
Age: 26
Hometown: Artesia, Calif.
Fourth at 2016 U.S. Championships
10th at 2016 World Championships

Hochstein was placed on the 2016 World Championships team after Chen withdrew due to that hip injury. He finished a respectable 10th in his worlds debut but dropped to 11th in each of his fall Grand Prix starts. Hochstein ranks seventh this season among men in the U.S. Championships field.

Tim Dolensky
Age: 24
Hometown: Kennesaw, Ga.
Seventh at 2016 U.S. Championships

Dolensky had his best U.S. Championships finish last season and ranks behind only Chen, Brown, Rippon and Aaron among U.S. skaters’ top scores this season.

Vincent Zhou
Age: 16
Hometown: Riverside, Calif.
2013 U.S. junior champion
Fifth at 2016 World Junior Championships

Zhou would be a bigger threat if he hadn’t pulled out of his last event in December with a leg injury. Still, he has the jumping firepower, when he lands them, to contend for the podium when healthy.

MORE: Wagner, Chen share training ice, favorite status at nationals