With the world track and field championships coming next month, podium favorites are emerging with the Diamond League circuit providing the best prospects. The season continues Sunday with world previews in Rabat, Morocco.
Olympic gold medalists Karsten Warholm and Elaine Thompson-Herah are among the headliners, live on CNBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. ET.
For Warholm, who took his own 400m hurdles world record down to 45.94 seconds in Tokyo, it’s his first race September. Jumping right back to the top of the world rankings won’t be easy.
Brazilian Alison Dos Santos, who became the third-fastest man in history with his Olympic bronze, has already run 47.23 and 47.24 this year, two of the three fastest times in history when counting only races run before June 1 in a year.
Thompson-Herah has run frequently this outdoor season, but she’s still looking up at countrywoman and fellow two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 2022 world rankings.
There are deeper fields in the women’s pole vault and men’s 800m and 3000m steeplechase as many athletes prepare for national championships. That includes the USATF Outdoor Championships in three weeks in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three in most individual events qualify for worlds, also in Eugene.
Here are the Rabat entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):
12:50 p.m. — Women’s High Jump
1:16 — Men’s Long Jump
1:45 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:04 — Women’s 400m
2:15 — Men’s 1500m
2:25 — Men’s Discus
2:28 — Women’s 100m
2:37 — Men’s 800m
2:43 — Women’s Triple Jump
2:45 — Women’s 1500m
2:58 — Men’s 200m
3:07 — Women’s 3000m
3:27 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
3:35 — Women’s 800m
3:46 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
Here are five events to watch (statistics via Tilastopaja.org and World Athletics):
Women’s Pole Vault — 1:45 p.m. ET
The world’s top four women gather for the second time in the last 15 days: Americans Katie Nageotte and Sandi Morris, Greek Katerina Stefanidi and Brit Holly Bradshaw. These are expected to be the athletes vying for medals come worlds given Olympic silver medalist Anzhelika Sidorova is from Russia, whose athletes are banned due to the invasion of Ukraine. Two weeks ago in Great Britain, Morris took the win with the world’s top clearance this year — 4.73 meters, a height that likely will not be enough for a medal in July.
Women’s 100m — 2:28 p.m. ET
Thompson-Herah is undefeated this season and unlikely to be challenged here by a field whose other top name is Olympic fourth-place finisher Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire. Instead, see if Thompson-Herah can produce a time close to Fraser-Pryce’s 2022 world-leading 10.67 seconds. Thompson-Herah has run 10.79, 10.89, 10.93 and 10.94 in 2022.
Men’s 800m — 2:37 p.m. ET
The best men’s 800m so far this year. It includes Olympic gold and silver medalists Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich of Kenya, the world’s fastest man last year Botswana’s Nijel Amos and the world’s second-fastest man this year, Emmanuel Wanyonyi of Kenya. The winner here may become the favorite for worlds.
Men’s 400m Hurdles — 3:27 p.m. ET
Warholm’s first race since September. Like Thompson-Herah, his top challengers are absent (Rai Benjamin, Alison Dos Santos). Dos Santos is the world No. 1 so far this year at 47.23. Benjamin is second at 47.49. Last year, Warholm broke the world record in his 400m hurdles season opener, but that was in July. The last time he opened this early, in 2019, he ran 47.85.
Men’s 3000m Steeplechase — 3:46 p.m. ET
Best event of the day. All three Olympic medalists, led by Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco. However, Olympic silver medalist Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia on Tuesday clocked the world’s fastest steeple in four years (7:58.68). There’s also Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto, who won gold at the 2016 Olympics, 2017 Worlds and 2019 Worlds who didn’t make the Tokyo Olympic team and hasn’t finished a Diamond League race since his last world title.
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