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.
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