NEW YORK — Some of the track and field season’s most anticipated events are approaching, and the busy stretch begins with the Adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Saturday.
It’s the sixth of 14 Diamond League meets and the final one before the U.S. Championships in two weeks in Sacramento, Calif. The New York headliners have sparingly competed in the first five Diamond League meets, some not at all. They include Mary Cain (her last meet before a driver’s test and graduation), Jenn Suhr, Lolo Jones, Yohan Blake and David Rudisha.
The Adidas Grand Prix will be their showcase before focus jumps to the U.S. Championships, Tyson Gay‘s return (against Justin Gatlin) on July 3, the Commonwealth Games and Usain Bolt‘s hopeful 2014 debut later this summer.
NBCSN will have live coverage Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET. The full schedule and entry lists can be found here.
Here’s the Saturday schedule of notable senior events (all times Eastern):
11:45 a.m. — Men’s discus
12:20 p.m. — Women’s triple jump
1:20 — Women’s javelin
2:35 — Men’s long jump
2:40 — Women’s pole vault
3:37 — Women’s 800m
4:04 — Men’s 400m hurdles
4:13 — Women’s 3000m
4:15 — Men’s high jump
4:29 — Men’s 400m
4:38 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
4:51 — Women’s 400m
4:55 — Women’s shot put
5:01 — Women’s 1500m
5:20 — Women’s 100m hurdles
5:29 — Men’s 200m
5:35 — Men’s 100m
5:42 — Men’s 800m
5:50 — Women’s 100m
6:05 — Women’s 200m
Here are five events to watch:
Women’s pole vault
Jenn Suhr competes three days after vaulting in New York’s Herald Square with the Empire State Building among other scenery as a backdrop. She’s been lying low so far this outdoor season, attaching to a new carbon pole after winning Olympic gold and World silver with a traditional fiberglass model.
Suhr will not be facing longtime rival Yelena Isinbayeva, who is taking time off to start a family. But she will go up against the other woman to win medals at the Olympics and World Championships — Cuban Yarisley Silva.
In Eugene two weeks ago, World champion Abeba Aregawi lost a Diamond League 1500m for the first time since Aug. 17, 2012. Her conqueror, Kenyan Hellen Obiri, is not running in New York, making 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson the biggest threat. Simpson was fourth in Eugene in a personal best, setting her up to potentially take down Aregawi at last.
Women’s 100m hurdles
Crossover Olympian Lolo Jones makes her 2014 Diamond League debut. Jones, who finished 11th in bobsled in Sochi, didn’t enter this meet until after she notched a 12.74-second victory in Morocco on Sunday. Her addition came with the withdrawal of Olympic champion Sally Pearson due to a hamstring problem.
World champion Brianna Rollins is also absent, but Jones faces a familiar group of top U.S. women — 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson, 2014 World Indoor 60m hurdles champion Nia Ali and veteran Queen Harrison.
Before last Saturday, Yohan Blake clocked 9.76, 9.69 and 9.75 in his last three 100m races. Problem is, they were all in August 2012. What kind of form is the Jamaican Olympic silver medalist in after last year’s hamstring injury?
His only open sprints this year were a 10.02 over 100m in a low-key Jamaican meet last Saturday and a nondescript 20.49 over 200m in Kingston in March. Hopefully he gets pushed at Icahn Stadium by American Marvin Bracy, the World Indoor 60m silver medalist. Watch for Bracy to set a personal best and possibly break 10 seconds for the first time.
Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha hurt his knee running in Central Park last year and wound up missing more than a calendar’s worth of competition.
The Kenyan returned in Eugene, where he looked strong for about 600m before fading from first to seventh. The field here is weaker, with American Duane Solomon the top rival. Solomon, though, owns fourth- and 10th-place finishes in two Diamond League races this season, despite entering with American record aspirations.