10 Questions For 4 Straight Days Of Diamond League

Sandi Morris gave a thumbs-up after her win in Stockholm. (JIRO MOCHIZUKI/IMAGE OF SPORT)

With a pair of Diamond League extravaganzas heading our way as this week wraps up, we can look forward to no fewer than 4 straight days of top-class track & field, as both Monaco and London are 2-day affairs. Action will start in a limited fashion on Thursday night harborside in Monaco with what promoters are calling “Shot Among The Yachts,” with both men and women aiming for big puts. On the men’s side, the giants will be there: Ryan Crouser, Tom Walsh & Darrell Hill, to name three. A solid women’s field will include Americans Maggie Ewen, Raven Saunders and Michelle Carter.

Lots of treats will follow in the coming days, but here are 10 that raise interesting questions for us—in chronological order:

1. Can Morris Get Back On Top Of The Vault?

USATF champion Sandi Morris’s terrific season hit a bump in Lausanne, with a loss to Katerína Stefanídi and Jenn Suhr. It’s safe to say that the World Indoor champ is hoping to be in payback mode. Olympic champ Stefanídi will be there in Monaco and she won’t be the only rival Morris has to get past. Suhr–already ahead of Morris 2-0 in DL vaults this year–is in great shape, having just jumped 15-11¾ (4.87) in a street vault on Wednesday. An even bigger threat could be New Zealander Eliza McCartney, who leaped a national record and outdoor-leading 16-2½ (4.94) on Tuesday. Eager for her first competition in the unique Stade Louis II, where the track is on top of an office building, Morris tweeted, “I’ve heard awesome things about this one and I’m stoked.”

2. Can Miller-Uibo Tame Naser In The Monaco 400?

With Shakima Wimbley’s big 49.52 in Des Moines, we thought that she might be strong enough to handle Salwa Eid Naser when she got back to Europe, but none of the Americans have gotten close to the undefeated Bahraini. However, now Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Wimbley’s training partner) will be on the line. So far the Bahamian has run two 400s this year, and both of them are faster than Naser’s NR 49.55. Is a sub-49 plausible? The world hasn’t seen one of those since Sanya Richards-Ross ran 48.83 in ’09.

3. Can The American Record Fall In The Monaco Women’s Steeple?

World champion Emma Coburn has been focused on breaking her own AR of 9:02.58 this season, with an eye toward dipping under 9:00. Is Monaco the place? The field is sterling, with two sub-9 types already: Kenyans Celliphine Chespol and Beatrice Chepkoech. Throw in the World silver medalist, Courtney Frerichs, as well as ’15 world champ Hyvin Jepkemoi, and we’ll have a real race. The meet record of 9:11.28 is a sure goner. As for Coburn’s goal—we’ll see.

4. How Fast Can The Men’s 1500 Go At Monaco?

The top 1500 runners know that at Herculis fast times happen. The meet record is Asbel Kiprop’s 3:26.69, and while his name can’t be mentioned without a groan over his recent doping positive, the fact is that the meet has produced an astonishing 27 other performances under 3:30. World leader Timothy Cheruiyot has shown he can run sub-3:30 even from the front and would be the likely favorite. However, fellow Kenyan Elijah Manangoi won here last year over Cheruiyot with his PR 3:28.80 and is always dangerous. Eyes will be on teen star Jakob Ingebrigtsen to see how much he can cut off his 3:36.06 best.

5. Is Jager Ready To Break 8:00?

The final race on the Monaco schedule is the men’s steeple, which features 7 runners who have broken 8:10 before. Evan Jager won here last year with his 8:01.29, but he’s still burning to get under the big barrier—it has been three years since his oh-so-close 8:00.45 at St.-Denis. He will be facing world leader Benjamin Kigen (8:06.19) as well as Olympic and world champ Conseslus Kipruto. If the pace-setting is on, this could be a memorable race.

6. Can Little Win In London?

Lausanne marked a big race for Shamier Little. The ’15 World silver medalist in the 400H, Little produced her No. 2 time ever, 53.41, in winning her first DL race since the ’16 Weltklasse. That narrowly topped the PR 53.46 by Jamaica’s Janieve Russell. In a DL season that has gone ahead without the participation of world leader Sydney McLaughlin, we have yet to see the emergence of a dominant performer. Little is probably hoping to advance her claim in London, just as the World Rankings selectors are probably hoping for a little bit of clarity in the event.

7. Can Chelimo Finally Break 13:00?

For all of his accomplishments—including an Olympic silver and a WC bronze—Paul Chelimo has never broken 13:00 in the 5000. The closest he has come is the 13:03.90 he ran in Rio. He has talked about this as being one of his big goals in ’18. A strong London field will help. The fastest PRs in the field belong to the Ethiopians: Olympic bronze medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet (12:47.53), shorts-grabbing Yomif Kejelcha (12:53.98) and world champion Muktar Edris (12:54.83). If the pace is good, Chelimo could end up being happy. If the pace is perfect, he could threaten Bernard Lagat’s American Record of 12:53.60 from ’11.

8. Will Coleman Win Again?

Comebacking Christian Coleman eked out the tightest of wins in the Rabat 100, edging Ronnie Baker as both ran 9.98. In London he faces Baker again. Noah Lyles, 3rd in Rabat, won’t be running (he will have run the 200 in Monaco the previous night). NCAA winner Cameron Burrell will be there, among others. Look forward to another good dash show, this one closing out Day 1. Keep in mind that this meet is a bit tougher than most DLs, having heats as it does some 75 minutes before the final.

9. Can Korir Reclaim the 800?

Emmanuel Korir—you may remember him as last year’s version of Michael Saruni—is returning to the 2-lapper for the first time since his May DL wins in Doha and Eugene. A 400 last week in Lignano produced an impressive 44.52 just two weeks after his PR 44.21 in Nairobi’s altitude. So it’s safe to assume he’s in shape, and probably better shape than when he ran his indoor world-leading 1:44.21 at Millrose in February. Nijel Amos should challenge, and confidence is running high for negative-splitter Clayton Murphy after a dominating win over World Indoor champ Adam Kszczot at the World Cup.

10. Is The London Women’s Mile Really Anyone’s Race?

The final event at London Stadium will be the Millicent Fawcett Mile (named for the British suffragist of a century ago). Hellen Obiri has the fastest mile PR in the field at 4:16.56 and is fresh off a strong 5000 win over Sifan Hassan in Rabat. But we haven’t seen anything short from Obiri since a 4:05.04 for 1500 in the indoor season. Perhaps—in a race with no Shelby Houlihan—this is anyone’s race. Hassan is fit, with her big 5000 NR of 14:22.34 and a recent 3:58.39. Laura Muir will have the crowd on her side and has produced 3 straight sub-4 runner-up finishes in DL meets. Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay has the fastest seasonal best for 1500 in the field with her 3:57.64.