Sprint, middle distance showdowns at Monaco Diamond League; preview

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Bill it as the fastest race among U.S. sprinters ever.

Justin GatlinTyson Gay and Trayvon Bromell headline a Diamond League 100m in Monaco on Friday. It’s the first time that three Americans who have covered the distance in less than 9.85 seconds will line up against each other.

And it’s not the only showdown at the meet (full start lists here).

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s 1500m — 2:15 p.m. ET

It’ll be a gathering of distance running elite when Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah drops down to challenge the last two Olympic 1500m champions Taoufik Makhloufi and Asbel Kiprop.

Add in the two best Americans in the event — two-time World medalist Matthew Centrowitz and Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano — and this year’s 1500m in Monaco is arguably more mouth-watering than last year, when Kiprop had hoped to break the world record.

Last year, Kenyan Silas Kiplagat won in 3:27.64, making him the fourth fastest man of all time. Farah clocked his personal best in Monaco two years ago, a 3:28.81, when he was edged by Kiprop’s personal-best 3:27.72.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:40

This has been the most compelling field event this season with Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo and U.S. Olympic champion Christian Taylor dueling and inching closer to Jonathan Edwards‘ world record from 1995.

Pichardo and Taylor go head-to-head again in Monaco and are joined by American World Championships team members Omar Craddock and Marquis Dendy. Pichardo has triple jumped a personal-best 18.08m this year. Taylor has triple jumped a personal-best 18.06m. Edwards’ world record is 18.29m.

Women’s 1500m — 3:25

Is American Jenny Simpson still the favorite for Worlds 1500m gold? Perhaps not if Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba has something to say. Dibaba, known more as a 5000m runner, dipped down to 1500m on July 8 for the first time this season and posted the fastest time in the world in 18 years and more than three seconds faster than reigning Diamond League champion Simpson’s personal best.

In Monaco, Simpson will get her first look at Dibaba since beating the Ethiopian by .62 in a slower Stockholm race last August. Also in the field is Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan, the fastest in the world last year.

It’s unclear if Dibaba will run the 1500m and the 5000m at Worlds in August (there are two days between events) or solely the 5000m.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 3:15

All of the World Championships medal threats will be in the same race for the first time — Americans Dawn Harper-NelsonBrianna RollinsSharika Nelvis and Keni Harrison and Michigan-born Tiffany Porter of Great Britain.

It’s been a fluctuating season, but the 2008 Olympic champion Harper-Nelson emerged to win the last two big races at the U.S. Championships on June 27 and a Diamond League meet in Lausanne last Thursday. She can cement Worlds favorite status with a win in Monaco.

Men’s 100m — 3:35

Gatlin is more and more of a favorite for the World title with every passing day, mostly because Usain Bolt hasn’t raced since a lackluster June 13 time over 200m.

This could be the 33-year-old Gatlin’s biggest test between now and the World Championships final Aug. 23. Gay is the American record holder (9.69), and Bromell, a rising Baylor junior, ran the fastest time ever by a teenager at the U.S. Championships (9.84).

Still, Gatlin is undefeated since the start of 2014 and is the only man to run 9.80 or faster in that span, which he’s done five times.

Bolt, meanwhile, is slated to return July 24 in London, where he’ll need to be much faster than any of his other races since the start of 2014 to plant any doubts about Gatlin.

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