David Rudisha

Zurich Diamond League final preview

Leave a comment

The Diamond League circuit concludes with two finals meets in Zurich on Thursday and Brussels on Sept. 5.

The finals are labeled that way because they mark the last competitions in individual event Diamond Races, accumulation points standings that determine season-long champions.

The Diamond League finals provide double the points than the previous Diamond League meets. That means first place in Zurich awards eight points, second place gets four points and third place two points.

Each of the 32 individual event Diamond Race winners receive $40,000 and a Diamond Trophy. Half of the Diamond Races conclude in Zurich. The other 16 conclude in Brussels.

In Zurich, 14 of the 16 Diamond Races are still in play. Only LaShawn Merritt (400m) and Sandra Perkovic (discus) have their titles already clinched, so long as they show up in Switzerland.

The rest of the events are headlined by Allyson Felix and David Rudisha with Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com coverage starting at 2 p.m. ET. Don’t forget Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell racing in the 100m, a non-Diamond Race event.

Here are five Diamond Races to watch in Zurich:

Men’s triple jump — 2 p.m. ET

Standings
1. Will Claye (USA) — 14 points
2. Christian Taylor (USA) — 12 points

The Americans who went one-two at the London Olympics will do battle for another title in Zurich. This time, London silver medalist Claye is in the driver’s seat.

Claye has had a better season than Taylor, leaping personal bests 17.66m in May and 17.75m in June, the latter winning the U.S. Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Claye celebrated that jump, while wearing a backwards cap, by running into the stands.

But Taylor, who opened his season running 400m races, won the last Diamond League triple jump in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 12. Claye was second there. If that result repeats in Zurich, Taylor will claim the Diamond Race title.

Women’s 1500m — 2:38

Standings
1. Abeba Aregawi (SWE) — 12 points
2. Sifan Hassan (NED) — 10 points
3. Jenny Simpson (USA) — 9 points

Simpson, the 2011 World champion, is having the best season of her career. She’s gone under her previous personal best twice, including a 3:57.22 in Paris on July 5. Then she beat the Ethiopian-born Aregawi and Hassan, along with Genzebe Dibaba, in Stockholm on Thursday.

That victory put Simpson in control of her own destiny in Zurich. Win, and she takes the Diamond Race. If she finishes second, she can also capture the season title if Aregawi doesn’t finish first or third and Hassan doesn’t win.

Women’s 100m — 2:59

Standings
1. Kerron Stewart (JAM) — 7 points
2. Murielle Ahoure (CIV) — 3 points
3. Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) — 2 points
3. Blessing Okagbare (NIG) — 2 points
3. Myriam Soumare (FRA) — 2 points

Few could have predicted how this event would play out this season. Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce prevailed in the opener in Doha but hasn’t won since and isn’t in the Zurich field after scratching the Birmingham 100m on Sunday.

American Tori Bowie, primarily a long jumper until March, won three of the six Diamond Race events so far this season, giving her 12 points and the lead. But she pulled up with a leg injury in Birmingham and will miss Zurich, meaning she is not eligible to win the Diamond Race.

That leaves the Jamaican veteran Stewart as the leader. Stewart, 30 and a 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist, hasn’t broken 11 seconds this year for the first time since 2007. She’ll likely need to finish second to win the Diamond Race, and it won’t be easy. Okagbare and Campebell-Brown are the fastest women this year in the field. Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and the world’s fastest 200m runner this year, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, are also in the field.

Men’s 800m — 3:08

Standings
1. David Rudisha (KEN) — 8 points
2. Nijel Amos (BOT) — 6 points
3. Asbel Kiprop (KEN) — 4 points
3. Adam Kszczot (POL) — 4 points

The Olympic champion and world record holder Rudisha will clinch the Diamond Race title with a victory or by finishing second if Amos, Kiprop and Kszczot don’t win. Rudisha, who came back in June after missing more than a year of competition with a knee injury, has looked more beatable this season that any time over the last five years. He is coming off a 600m victory in Birmingham, England, on Sunday.

World champion Mohammed Aman can prevail in the Diamond Race with a win if Rudisha doesn’t finish second. Aman won a pair of 800m races at Diamond League meets this year, but they didn’t count in the Diamond Race standings.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 3:17

Standings
1. Queen Harrison (USA) — 17 points
2. Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA) — 13 points

Americans have won all six 100m hurdles races this season — Harrison with three, Harper-Nelson with two and World champion Brianna Rollins with one. Australian Olympic champion Sally Pearson is also in this field, but the Diamond Race will come down to Harrison, a 2008 Olympian in the 400m hurdles, and the 2008 Olympic champion Harper-Nelson.

Harper-Nelson closed the gap on Harrison with a Birmingham victory and owns the fastest time in the world this year (12.44).

Video: Youth Olympics 8x100m relay

Emily Sisson a U.S. Olympic marathon trials favorite, thanks to Ireland

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Emily Sisson didn’t think she would become a professional runner until her last year of college. Now, at 28, she goes into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials as a contender for one of three Tokyo spots, if not the overall favorite.

“I’ve only done one marathon, so I definitely don’t feel like I’m an experienced marathoner,” Sisson said by phone last week from her Arizona base. “That’s the one question mark I’ve had all build-up.”

Predicting a marathon can be a crapshoot, but a Podiumrunner.com experts panel pegged Sisson to win. She is younger than any female U.S. Olympic marathoner since Anne Marie Lauck in 1996 (though fellow contender Jordan Hasay is a month younger).

Confidence stems from last April 28. Sisson clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow. She finished sixth — behind five East Africans. She crossed 3:25 ahead of sometimes training partner and mentor Molly Huddle, also a headliner at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We wanted to run faster,” Sisson said that day in London. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Sisson later mentioned a pre-race scare on the “Keeping Track” podcast. She tripped over a carpet jogging back from a bathroom, banged both knees 15 minutes before the start and got checked out physically by a chiropractor and mentally by her husband, who has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Sisson then covered the final half of that marathon alone, a foreign feeling for the longtime track runner. At one point, she thought about having never before run more than 23 miles.

Her mind could have also wandered to sports memories that led her to the world’s strongest marathon: Attending a 1999 Women’s World Cup match and seeing her hero, Mia Hamm. As a soccer-playing teenager, being asked by a friend to join a track relay team. Or being told during a record-breaking high school career that she was reminiscent of 2004 Olympic marathoner Jen Rhines.

Sisson, whose dad ran and mom did gymnastics at the University of Wisconsin, transferred after one year in Madison to Providence. She had a best NCAA Championships finish of fourth going into her last year. Before that final season, Sisson was prepared to leave competitive running once her NCAA eligibility exhausted in pursuit of an MBA.

“I had been going through a bit of a funk with running,” she said. “I was getting a little tired.”

Things changed the summer before her senior year. She vacationed with then-boyfriend/now-husband Shane Quinn, a fellow Providence runner, in Quinn’s native Ireland. At one point, they altered training, ditching tempo runs for local road races. Sisson never before competed on the roads. She doesn’t remember the distances being exact. She does remember winning.

“That was a new, fun thing that kept the sport kind of fresh for me,” she said. “You finish, and you go into a local pub and have sandwiches.”

Providence coach Ray Treacy put Sisson in more road races that fall. The opportunity was right. She had no cross-country eligibility left while she readied for the winter and spring track seasons. She went on to win the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5000m, a springboard to the pros (while still going after the MBA).

Sisson was set back by injury in 2016 and placed 10th in the Olympic trials 10,000m. She kept training under Treacy, and perhaps just as important, with Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000m. Huddle, seven years older than Sisson, made her marathon debut after the Rio Olympics.

“Emily really looks up to her and is inspired by her,” Treacy said. “Molly has helped her out in numerous ways in training. … Making sure she’s not going overboard with the training, not running too fast. She kind of keeps her under control.”

Sisson made the last two world championships teams in the 10,000m, but Treacy thought marathon since 2015. They signed her up for the 2019 London Marathon, in part because Huddle was going to race it as her third career 26.2-miler. And in part to get Sisson ready for the Olympic trials in 10 months’ time.

The build-up was better than ideal. Sisson ran the second-fastest half marathon in U.S. history (on a record-eligible course) in January. She became the third-fastest U.S. woman all-time at 10,000m in March.

Come April, Treacy was impressed again just by watching Sisson after she crossed the London finish line in what would be the second-fastest marathon for a U.S. woman in 2019.

“It didn’t look like it took anything out of her,” Treacy said. “She recovered really fast. Within minutes, she was feeling pretty good. That was a good sign.”

Sisson returned home to Quinn and their golden retriever, Desmond, who has 1,400 Instagram followers. She skipped a fall marathon to compete in the 10,000m at track worlds in Doha, placing a respectable 10th.

The recent marathon build-up for trials went just as well, if not better, than the training for London.

“I’m definitely putting a bit of pressure on myself with this one,” Sisson said. “But at the same time, I don’t get caught up in so much what other people say. I don’t really read the articles about who’s the favorite or what chance you have of making the team.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic trials

Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic trials