Ajee Wilson

Michael Norman leads young phenoms starring in Stockholm

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Michael Norman is 21 years old. Dina Asher-Smith and Timothy Cheruiyot are each 23. All are running like Olympic gold-medal favorites and showed why at a Diamond League stop in chilly Stockholm on Thursday.

Norman, who turned pro after his sophomore season at USC last year, took the 400m in 44.53 seconds, winning by six tenths over fellow Trojan Rai Benjamin. Norman was actually disappointed with the time, given he clocked 43.45, the sixth-fastest ever, on April 20.

“Today was challenging, both mentally and physically, and there’s a lot of things I need to work on,” Norman said, according to meet organizers. “Need to work on the second part of the race still, and I’ll readjust and reevaluate as I go.”

The Diamond League moves to Rome next Thursday, when Norman is scheduled to race Noah Lyles at 200m.

Lyles and Norman went fourth and fifth in the 200m at the 2016 Olympic Trials, when they were coming off senior seasons in high school. But the 200m is Lyles’ primary event, while Norman has become the Olympic 400m favorite with world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk out injured most of the last two years. Lyles and Norman likely will not go head to head at the world championships in Doha in four months.

STOCKHOLM: Full Results

In other events Thursday, the Brit Asher-Smith crushed a loaded 200m in 22.18 seconds, the world’s fastest of 2019. Olympic champ Elaine Thompson of Jamaica was second (22.66), followed by Dutch world champion Dafne Schippers (22.78). U.S. champion Jenna Prandini was fifth (23.09).

“I didn’t expect to run that kind of time as it is quite cold out and late at night,” Asher-Smith said.

She consolidated favorite status for worlds. The world’s other best half-lapper, Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, is expected to stick to the 400m in Doha given the two events overlap.

The Kenyan Cheruiyot won a deep 1500m in 3:35.79. Norwegian 18-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the youngest sub-four-minute miler ever, took third in 3:37.30 in the same time to the hundredth as runner-up Ayanleh Souleiman. Cheruiyot has been battling countryman Elijah Manangoi for 1500m supremacy the last two years, but Manangoi ended up 10th in Stockholm.

Cuban phenom Juan Miguel Echevarria took second in the long jump at 8.12 meters, one year after nearly jumping out of the pit in Stockholm. Echevarria, a 20-year-old who has battled a foot injury, leaped a wind-aided 8.83 meters a year ago and a wind-aided 8.92 in March. The latter made Echevarria the No. 2 jumper in history in all conditions, trailing only world-record holder Mike Powell.

Olympic champion Jeff Henderson was third and world champion Luvo Manyonga fourth.

Ajeé Wilson took the women’s 800m in 2:00.87, the slowest winning time in a Diamond League points race since the very first one in 2010. That’s more notable given it’s the first top-level 800m since the IAAF’s testosterone cap that is keeping all three Olympic medalists out — Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui.

World-record holder Kendra Harrison won the 100m hurdles in 12.52, edging countrywoman Sharika Nelvis by .17. Harrison is tuning up for what could be a worlds showdown with the last two Olympic champions, Brianna McNeal and Sally Pearson.

World champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya got clipped and fell with one kilometer to go in the 5000m. She finished 12th and limped off, snapping a year-long win streak in the event.

Olympic and world champion Sandra Perkovic was a shocking fifth in the discus, the Croat’s first time off a podium since returning from a six-month doping ban in 2011, according to Tilastopaja.org.

World champ Sam Kendricks won the pole vault with a 5.72-meter clearance. The field lacked his biggest rivals, Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie and Swede Mondo Duplantis.

MORE: Matthew Boling, high school track phenom, chooses summer meets

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Diamond League kicks off with focus on women’s 800m; TV/stream info

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The Diamond League season starts Friday with scrutiny on an event that will no doubt see significant change this season — the women’s 800m.

A landmark sports court ruling Wednesday is expected to force some top stars — including Olympic gold and silver medalists Caster Semenya of South Africa and Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi — to take measures to reduce abnormally high testosterone for women’s events.

In that case, they would have to sit out international competition through the summer, while continuously keeping testosterone levels below the imposed limit, if they want to return to any event between the 400m and 1500m at the world championships in Doha in late September.

Friday’s Diamond League opener, also in Doha and the first of 14 stops over the next four months, will be the last one held before the testosterone-reducing rule goes into effect. Olympic Channel will air live coverage at 12 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Gold streaming commercial-free coverage at 11 a.m.

The women’s 800m field is among the strongest, including Niyonsaba, Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui of Kenya and world bronze medalist Ajeé Wilson, the American record holder. Semenya, undefeated at 800m the last three seasons, is not entered.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Caster Semenya a late entry into Doha

Here are the Doha entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

11:20 a.m. — Men’s Pole Vault
11:35 — Men’s Discus
11:55 — Women’s High Jump
12 p.m. — Women’s Long Jump
12:04 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
12:15 — Men’s 800m
12:27 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
12:37 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
12:56 — Men’s 200m
1 — Men’s Shot Put
1:07– Women’s 800m
1:19 — Men’s 1500m
1:34 — Women’s 200m
1:46 — Women’s 3000m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s 800m — 12:15 p.m.
While David Rudisha has been out injured for nearly two years, fellow Kenyan and former UTEP star Emmanuel Korir has emerged as the world’s best two-lapper, winning all but one of his meets in 2017 and again in 2018. In Doha, Korir’s competition includes the second-fastest man each of the last two years, Botswana’s Nijel Amos. Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, was the only man to bear Korir in 2018.

Watch out for American Donavan Brazier, who ascended the international rankings until an injury-shortened 2018. Already in 2019, Brazier broke the American indoor 800m record and ran the fastest indoor 600m in history.

Men’s Shot Put — 1 p.m.
Strongest field of the meet? The top seven men from the world last year. All three 2016 Olympic medalists, highlighted by Americans Ryan Crouser (gold) and Joe Kovacs (silver). Plus 2017 World champion Tom Walsh of New Zealand. The world record could be under threat given Crouser two weeks ago launched the world’s best throw since the bar was set 29 years ago.

Women’s 800m — 1:07 p.m.
Wilson, coming off an American indoor 800m record in February, eyes her first Diamond League win since 2015. Much has changed in the women’s 800m in the last four years, with the biggest tremor coming with Wednesday’s court ruling. Wilson has never won a race with Niyonsaba in the field but is now one of, if not the favorite for gold at worlds.

Men’s 1500m — 1:19 p.m.
Kenyans Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi traded the world’s fastest times the last two years, and they meet again here. While Manangoi is the world champion, Cheruiyot has lost only twice since London 2017, taking runner-up to Manangoi at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 African Championships. They are the only men to break 3:30 since the Rio Olympics. Gold medalist Matthew Centrowitz is sitting this one out.

Women’s 3000m — 1:46 p.m.
Another juicy head-to-head featuring Genzebe Dibaba, the 1500m world-record holder, and Hellen Obiri, the 5000m world champion and fastest 3000m runner in the last 25 years. Toss in steeplechase world-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, and it’s one of the most unique headlining fields to open a Diamond League season.

MORE: Why Ryan Crouser postponed an NFL tryout

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Win streaks face Paris tests; Diamond League preview, stream schedule

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Two of the longest winning streaks in track and field could be tested at the Paris Diamond League, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold on Saturday.

World champions Caster Semenya (800m) and Mariya Lasitskene (high jump) are each undefeated for more than two years. Each faces some of her toughest competition in that span (toughest, in Semenya’s case) on Saturday.

Coverage streams on NBC Sports Gold starting at 12:40 p.m. ET. Olympic Channel broadcast coverage begins at 2.

Elsewhere, two NCAA champions and potential Olympic stars, Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin, collide in the 200m in Diamond League debuts.

Here are the Paris entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:40 p.m. — Women’s Discus
12:50 — Women’s Triple Jump
1:32 — Men’s Pole Vault
2:03 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
2:10 — Women’s High Jump
2:12 — Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
2:26 — Men’s Discus
2:30 — Men’s 200m
2:39 — Men’s 1500m
2:53 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
3:03 — Women’s 400m
3:10 — Men’s 800m
3:33 — Women’s 200m
3:42 — Women’s 800m
3:52 — Men’s 100m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Triple Jump — 12:50 p.m. ET
Caterine Ibargüen
, Yulimar Rojas and Olga Rypakova, who swept the 2016 Olympic and 2017 World medals, meet for the first time this year. But the top-ranked jumper in 2018 is Tori Franklin, who broke the American record on May 12. While Christian Taylor and Will Claye have dominated men’s triple jumping the last several years, a U.S. woman has never won a Diamond League meet.

Men’s 400m Hurdles — 2:03 p.m. ET
Three men with sub-47.5 personal bests are in the same race for the first time since the 2012 Olympic final (Felix Sanchez, Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement). This time it’s Rio gold medalist Clement (47.24), countryman Bershawn Jackson (47.30) and Qatari upstart Abderrahman Samba (47.41). A fourth sub-47.5 man will be at Stade Sébastien Charléty, but Rai Benjamin (47.02 at NCAA Championships) is racing the 200m.

Women’s High Jump — 2:10 p.m. ET
The top six jumpers this season gather, led by Russian Mariya Lasitskene, who has won more than 40 straight meets dating to 2016. She’ll be challenged by her usual rivals but also Olympic heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium. In Rio, Thiam’s clearance in the heptathlon would have won the high jump gold medal. Thiam ranks second in the world behind Lasitskene this season, with Paris marking their first head-to-head since September.

Men’s 200m — 2:30 p.m. ET
An intriguing faceoff between Michael Norman and Rai Benjamin, teammates at the University of Southern California better known in one-lap races. Norman finished fifth in the Olympic Trials 200m as an 18-year-old, but this year he broke the indoor 400m world record on March 10 (44.52) and clocked the fastest 400m time of the year on June 8 (43.61). Also at NCAAs on June 8, Benjamin tied Edwin Moses with the second-fastest 400m hurdles time ever, lowering his personal best from 47.98 to 47.02. Benjamin represents Antigua and Barbuda but is trying to switch to the U.S., a process held up by the IAAF’s current freeze on nation transfers.

Women’s 800m — 3:42 p.m. ET
The six fastest active women line up in the strongest track event of the meet. South African Caster Semenya has the longest winning streak (by days) on the track, having not lost an 800m since 2015. Semenya’s focus this summer is somewhat diverted to appealing the IAAF’s proposed rule change to limit testosterone levels in female middle-distance runners. That change would go into effect for next season and is expected to affect Semenya. This field also includes Olympic silver and bronze medalists Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, plus world bronze medalist and American record holder Ajeé Wilson.

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