One year before French capital hosts the greatest show on earth, Friday’s Diamond League will act as a brilliant apéritif
The Diamond League in Paris on Friday (June 9) features line-ups that are every bit as strong as some of the Olympic finals we will see in the same French capital next year. Brits in action include Keely Hogkinson, Laura Muir and Dina Asher-Smith, while international stars include Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Faith Kipyegon, both of whom will be outside their comfort zone in events they don’t usually do.
“Running here is going to be amazing with one year to go before the Olympics,” said Asher-Smith at the pre-event press conferences on Thursday. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I know this might sound controversial but it’s only an hour from London it feels like a home Olympics. There are good vibes for next year and good vibes for tomorrow.”
Asher-Smith faces Abbey Steiner, Gabby Thomas, Marie-Josée Ta Lou and others in the 200m while Hodgkinson takes on Ajee’ Wilson, Raevyn Rogers, Halima Nakaayi, Noelie Yarigo, Catriona Bisset, to name a few, in her summer debut over 800m.
Muir, meanwhile, is in the most intriguing race of all as she tackles the 5000m for the first time in several years as she aims to smash her PB of 14:49.12, which was set indoors in 2017.
Also in the field is Kipyegon, fresh from her 3:49.11 world 1500m record in Florence. Like Muir she is making a rare step-up in distance, too, although she says it is part of a plan to eventually move to the marathon.
“It was a really beautiful night and smashing that record,” said Kipyegon, whose PB of 14:31.95 dates back to 2015. “I’m expecting a good race but I’m nervous as it’s really long and eight years since I ran it seriously. I want to graduate to 5000m first and upgrade slowly and slowly to the marathon in the future. I don’t know when or where but I have in my mind it will happen some day.”
An incredible field also sees world 5000m, 10,000m and half-marathon record-holder Letesenbet Gidey take part in her first race since her dramatic collapse at the end of the World Cross Country Championships in February.
The line-up also includes world steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech, world 5km record-holder Ejgayehu Taye, world indoor 3000m champion Lemlem Hailu of Ethiopia, 2019 world silver medallist Margaret Kipkemboi, world cross bronze medallist Agnes Ngetich and North American 10,000m record-holder Alicia Monson
An expected crowd of 18,000 at the Stade Charlety will also see Jakob Ingebrigtsen attack Daniel Komen’s world two miles record of 7:58.61, which was set in Hechtel in 1997. Failing that, the European best is held by Mo Farah with 8:07.85, set in Birmingham in 2014.
Can the Olympic 1500m champion run two consecutive sub-four-minute miles? His opposition includes world under-20 cross-country champion Ishmael Kipkirui and recent Night of the 10,000m PBs winner Paul Chelimo.
After missing recent races with small injury issues, Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs takes on world 200m champion Noah Lyles, plus Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya, in the 100m. World 100m champion Fred Kerley is a notable absentee, though, with Jacobs saying on Thursday: “This thing ( recent trash talk) I have with Fred is a lot of fun as it gets people talking about a sport that needs more visibility. It’s good to have some hype.”
McLaughlin-Levrone, the world 400m hurdles record-holder from the United States, faces world No.1 Marileidy Paulino of Dominican Republic in her specialist event – the flat 400m. Watch out too for 2019 world champion Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain, who is improving with every race following a suspension due to missing drugs tests. US heptathlete Anna Hall and Britain’s Ama Pipi are also in the race.
McLaughlin-Levrone said: “Everyone is expecting crazy, amazing things but my goal is to open up my season healthily and strong and see where I’m at as we continue to progress through 2023.”
Hall is also in the women’s high jump along with Brit Morgan Lake, American Vashti Cunningham and Australian Nicola Olyslagers, while French decathlon star Kevin Mayer is in a ‘triathlon’ (long jump, sprint hurdles and shot put).
Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia, who broke Komen’s world indoor 3000m record earlier this year, is looking for a fast time in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. Maybe the world record of 7:53.63 could be under danger too.
As if all this isn’t entertaining enough, there will be breakdancing exhibitions in between the track and field action ahead of that sport’s Olympic debut in Paris in 2024.
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