http://www.iaaf.org/competitions/dlm/news/newsid=62530.html2011 Diamond Races head for dramatic finish in Brussels Final– PREVIEW – Samsung Diamond LeagueMike Rowbottom for the IAAF
Thursday, 15 September 2011
Brussels, Belgium – The weather forecast is set fair for the second Final of the 2011 Samsung Diamond League which takes place tomorrow night (Friday 16 September) at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, Belgium, where the remaining Diamond Race Trophies and prize money will be distributed.
Back on 6 May in Doha, Qatar, the world’s finest athletes began their season long quest for the coveted mantle of ‘world’s most consistent performer’ in 32 event disciplines. It was a battle which has been fought out across the 14 meetings of the Samsung Diamond League, the sport’s premier global invitational series of meetings which climax in the Belgian capital.
In total 8 Million US$ in prize money has been at stake during the 2011 series, with the Finals at the last two meetings, Weltklasse Zürich (8 Sep) and tomorrow’s Belgacom Memorial Van Damme, seeing the final distribution of prizes, a spectacular Diamond Race Trophy and US$40,000 in cash to each of the 32 overall event winners. 16 event disciplines were decided last week in Zürich, and the last competitions in the remaining 16 events take place in Brussels.
The Brussels start list is of course heavy with talent but the current Diamond Race leaders are divided into two distinct groups. There are those like David Rudisha, Dai Greene, Carmelita Jeter, Amantle Montsho, Sally Pearson and Olha Saladukha who are high on the oxygen of Daegu triumphs and are ready to that cement success here, and there are those like Walter Dix, Renaud Lavillenie, Phillips Idowu, Dylan Armstrong, Andreas Thorkildsen, and Milcah Chemos who not having reached the top rung in Daegu, are looking to successfully conclude their season’s with a Diamond Race Trophy. World’s fastest looking to be this season’s fastest
Making his sixth appearance in the Samsung Diamond League this season is the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt who, looking to set the fastest 100m time in the world this year to make-up in some way for his disqualification in Daegu, takes on the short sprint which is not a Diamond Race in Brussels.
"I'm really looking forward to this", said a tired but upbeat Bolt shortly after flying into the Belgian capital. "I really want this world year best and I feel good. I think I have it in me to run the fastest time of the year.”
In order to do that, Bolt – who recovered his fortunes in Daegu by retaining his 200m title in 19.40sec and then ran the anchor leg in a 4x100m World record of 37.04sec – will have to better the time of 9.78sec posted by his Jamaican colleague Asafa Powell in Lausanne at the end of June.
Bolt was only partially satisfied with his performance in Tuesday’s IAAF World Challenge meeting in Zagreb, where he ran his best time of the year so far, 9.85sec.
"Still, I am not entirely happy about that race. I did not feel good at the start, and for a few seconds lost my focus too.”
It will be Bolt’s fourth appearance at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme meeting, where he has established stadium records for the 100m (9.77# and the 200m #19.57#. His closest rival on the night looks likely to be fellow Jamaican Nesta Carter, who has a timing of 9.90sec this year and ran a personal best of 9.78 last season.Blake vs Dix vs Ndure - 200m Diamond Race
But back to the Diamond Race, Bolt is not the only Jamaican World champion sprinter with a big task on his hands here. World 100m champion, Yohan Blake, the 19-year-old who profited from his unexpected absence in Daegu, insisted on his arrival here that he wanted to run “a perfect race” over 200 metres in what will be his last competitive outing of the season.
Unless Walter Dix does something drastic like fall over, he looks sure to secure the Diamond Race Trophy for the 200 metres – and its accompanying prize of $40,000 - in what will be the second night of “finals” following last week’s meeting in Zurich.
It would be a nice counterpoint to last season, when injury prevented the American from contesting the final when he looked poised to win overall.
With 12 points, the Daegu double silver medallist is level at the top with Bolt. The only runner with a faint chance of overhauling Dix is Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who has five points.
Dix, however, will not be banking on winning the race on the night given the presence of the man who beat him to the World 100m title last month, Blake, who has twice since run a personal best of 9.82sec, and his 21-year-old Jamaican colleague Nickel Ashmeade, who has a 19.95 clocking to his credit this year.
In the aftermath of a spectacular but draining World Championship in Korea, meeting promoter Wilfried Meert says he has had to replace 25 athletes in the past five days. But he added: “Thankfully, the top four or five in the world in most events are still there.” Rudisha targets Kipketer’s mark
David Rudisha, who missed setting a third 800m world record by just 0.33sec in Rieti on Saturday, has targeted the stadium record of 1min 42.20sec set in 1997 by his predecessor as world record holder, Wilson Kipketer.
But mere victory will be enough to confirm his successful defence of the Diamond Race trophy. Among those trying to frustrate the World champion’s plans will be his perennial rival Abukaker Kaki, the double World Indoor champion from Sudan, who is four points adrift of him in this year’s Trophy standings on four points, as is Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski.
Rudisha will also come under pressure from two fellow Kenyans in the form of World and Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, who has six points, and Alfred Kirwa Yego.Jeter poised to complete sprint Diamond Race double
With an eight point lead in the 100 metres and a superior record of victories, Carmelita Jeter is unassailable in Diamond Race terms and poised to complete a double in the 100 and 200 metres – which she won in Zurich last week - to match that achieved by fellow American Allyson Felix in the 200 and 400 metres in last year’s inaugural Diamond Race.
But the two women below her in the standings with six points apiece – Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica and Kelly-Anne Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago, respectively silver and bronze to her gold in Daegu – are likely to provide a big challenge that means Jeter will have to concentrate fully to round off her major season with a victory.
Like Jeter, Dai Greene is also on the brink of closing a World title-winning year with a Diamond Race victory. The Briton has 12 points, and with his nearest challenger, South Africa’s LJ Van Zyl absent, the closest rival in terms of points will be Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson, who Greene overhauled in the closing metres of the Daegu final.
Bershawn Jackson, last year’s Diamond Race winner, is another absentee, but the former Olympic and World champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic will seek to end his season with a flourish.Pearson holds one-point lead
Sally Pearson may have been miles ahead of her rivals in the World Championship 100m hurdles competition, but in the Diamond Race the competition is breathing down her neck.
While the Australian has amassed 12 points, Danielle Carruthers of the United States, who ran a personal best of 12.47sec to take silver behind Pearson in Daegu, is only one adrift. One point behind Carruthers is fellow American Kellie Wells, who will want to end her season on a more positive note after the spectacular fall she suffered in the Daegu final.
Milcah Chemos, assured of retaining the 3000m Steeplechase Diamond Race Trophy as she stands 10 points clear of her rivals, is focusing on a World record finale to her season.
Chemos, who has won all six of her races this season, only needs to set off from the start line to ensure she will receive the $40.000 prize. But she has loftier ambitions.
"I hope I can achieve my big goal in Brussels: to break the World record," says the Kenyan who lost what had seemed a certain gold in Daegu. Her personal best is 9:08.57; the World record of 8:58.81 has been held by Gulnara Galkina of Russia since 2008.Thorkildsen aims to make up for below-par Daegu
With a total of 14 points already in the Javelin Throw, five more than his nearest challenger, Norway’s double Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen is in a strong position to retain his Diamond Race title.
But the fact that the second-placed thrower is Matthias De Zordo, who defeated a strangely lacklustre Thorkildsen, one of the strongest pre-Champs favourites, in Daegu to claim gold, will be an intriguing test for the Norwegian. With Olympic year looming, the last big match-up of the season could be an important psychological pointer.Vlasic has her work cut out
Unlike Thorkildsen, Blanka Vlasic is already sure of retaining her Diamond Race winner’s status in the high jump, where her total of 18 points leaves her 12 clear of Russia’s Anna Chicherova, who won gold ahead of the Croatian’s silver in Daegu on countback. The presence of the effervescent Antoinetta Di Martino, who won a World bronze for Italy last month, will compound the competitiveness of the event. Saladukha unassailable
In the women’s Triple Jump, the world champion Olha Saladukha will find it a formality to take the Diamond Race as Cuba’s Yargeris Savigne, two points behind her, is out following the thigh injury which undermined her aspirations in Daegu.
Olga Rypakova, the Daegu silver medallist, can’t overtake Saladukha overall, but with a season’s best of 14.96m, just two centimetres behind the Ukraine athlete’s best of the year, she can certainly do so on the night.Tight Discus duel awaits
The women’s Discus Throw features two main challengers for the Diamond League Race, and happily both are fit to contest the final – Germany’s Nadine Muller, the Daegu silver medallist, has 11 points, one more than Cuba’s Yarelis Barrios, the World bronze medallist.
That said, with eight points up for grabs in the final, either of the US throwers Aretha Thurmond (6pts) or Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton (5) could advance dramatically, as could China’s World champion Yanfeng Li, who has four points. All to throw for!Race already secure for Armstrong
Dylan Armstrong’s outstanding consistency this season has already earned him the Diamond Race title. The Canadian, who took silver in Daegu, is nine points clear of his nearest challenger, Reese Hoffa, who is in turn one point ahead of fellow American Christian Cantwell.
Armstrong will be seeking to end his season with a flourish, however, after the shock of being beaten in Daegu by David Storl of Germany’s last round personal best of 21.78. Storl does not compete here.Lavillenie vs Mohr
Malte Mohr is the only man who can prevent Renaud Lavillenie from securing a second successive Diamond Race trophy in the Pole Vault.
The Frenchman took bronze in Daegu with 5.85 behind the surprise packages of Lazaro Borges, who set a Cuban record of 5.90, and Poland’s Pawel Wojciechowski (currently injured), who also managed 5.90 and took gold on count-back.
In Brussels, however, his main challenge will come from the German who stands six points behind him on points with a total of 10.Jamal looking for a happy ending
After the huge disappointment of Daegu, where her quest to win a third consecutive 1500m title ended with her finishing a distant last in the final, Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal has the chance to end her season with a happier memory.
And if she can beat her US rival Morgan Uceny, two points ahead of her at the top of the Diamond Race standings with 11 points, Jamal can also conclude with the comforting addition of $40,000 and a first Diamond Race trophy.
The race will be close and competitive given the additional presence of Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei, Diamond Race winner over 800m last year, Jamal’s Bahrain colleague Mimi Belete, and Spain’s Natalia Rodriguez, who partially made up for having her 2009 World gold taken away for elbowing by earning bronze in the Daegu final.Idowu faces Cuban challenge
Britain’s Phillips Idowu is certain to wrest the distinction of being the Diamond Race winner in the Triple Jump away from his young French rival Teddy Tamgho, whose season ended early because of a stress fracture.
Alexis Copello of Cuba, 11 points adrift of the Daegu silver medallist on seven points, looks likely to prove Idowu’s strongest opposition on the night, although Sheryf El Sheryf of Ukraine, with a season’s best of 17.72 that is just five centimetres less than the Briton’s, will also be a jumper to reckon with, as will be the lone American, Will Clay, who has achieved 17.50 this season.Montsho has had a supreme season
Amantle Montsho, who won one of the outstanding races of the World Championships as she edged over the line just ahead of Allyson Felix to take the 400m gold, has a less challenging task ahead of her given her unreachable total of 20 points.
But while the champion from Botswana will doubtless be seeking to end her year in fitting fashion, the race promises to be close given the presence of Novlene Williams-Mills of Jamaica and Britain’s Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu, who can leave herself with a better feeling about the season following her false start in the World Championship heats.Merga to make up for Farah’s absence
Despite Meert’s insistence that he had tried “very hard” to secure the presence of the runner who leads the 5000m Diamond Race, Mo Farah, Britain’s World champion has chosen to compete in the UK this weekend.
That said, Farah’s lead was only one point, and now the man just behind him in the standings, Imane Merga of Ethiopia, stands to collect another $40,000 following his success last year. He will face strong opposition, however, from his fellow countryman Dejen Gebremeskel, who is only three points adrift of him on a score of four.
Mathematically, in fact, the Diamond Race could be won by others in the field if Merga and Gebremeskel have a bad outing.Bekele returns after Daegu ‘Did not finish’
There are a number of non-Diamond Race competitions tomorrow night.
Olympic 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele, who returned after a two-year injury absence to defend his World title in Daegu only to drop out shortly before the halfway mark, will run here against a field in which 12 of his 15 opponents will be Kenyans, including former world champion Eliud Kipchoge.
Oscar Pistorius, who became the first amputee to compete in an able-bodied World Championships last month, reaching the 400m semi-finals, will race over that distance in a race which, as with the 10,000m, is not part of the Diamond League programme. Among his opponents will be the home pairing of Kevin and Jonathan Borlee.
And finally, the meeting offers a world first in the form of an unofficial 400 metres race which will be run the opposite way around the track.
The “reverse 400” was suggested by Professor Dirk Huylebrouck. Along with one of his students, the athlete Nils Duerinck, he is intrigued by the fact that track races are always run counter-clockwise. And so an effort will be made to discover if it helps athletes run faster or slower.
What will be made of the conclusion is anybody’s guess…