Conseslus Kipruto, Kenya’s world and Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion, returns to competition in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris on Saturday (24) after recovering from the foot fracture that was diagnosed in May and will now face the Moroccan he beat to the Diamond League title in Zurich last year, Soufiane El Bakaali.
The Moroccan leads this year’s world list with 8:04.82, but he will doubtless carry painful memories of last year’s Diamond League final in Zurich, where Kipruto overtook him in the closing stages to claim the title, despite having lost a shoe early in the race.
It would surely be too much to expect another win-against-the-odds from the 24-year-old Kenyan At the Stade Charlety – but if he can get into the top three in what is the last qualifying opportunity for the Diamond League finals, he may yet find himself in Brussels on 6 September.
Lyles takes on Guliyev
Paris is good karma for Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev, who won the 200m in Stade Charlety in 2017, the last time it was a Diamond League race here, and went on to secure the world title in London.
But Guliyev didn’t have to race against Noah Lyles on that occasion…
The exuberant 22-year-old from Gainesville, Florida, leads this year’s world list with the 19.50 he recorded at the Lausanne Diamond League, which put him fourth on the all-time list, and he will be ready to inflict another defeat on the world champion similar to the one he managed in last year’s Diamond League final.
On a track newly-laid ahead of next year’s European Athletics Championships, the organisers have laid on an 800m that will, among other things, enable home runner Pierre-Ambroise Bosse to test himself after hamstring injury.
Also on the programme will be a triathlon that will enable France’s world decathlon record holder Kevin Mayer to hone his form ahead of the IAAF World Athletics Championships that start in Doha next month.
Karsten Warholm will seek to get his season back on the move after being obliged to miss the European Athletics Team Championships League One meeting in his native Norway earlier this month because of a stomach problem.
The world 400m hurdles champion was a distant third in Paris last year as his newly-emerged rival Abderrahman Samba of Qatar ran the second fastest time ever, 46.98, and Kyron McMaster followed him home in a British Virgin Islands record of 47.54.
While Samba, who has reportedly been troubled with bursitis this season, is not in the race, McMaster is. In the course of this season, however, Warholm has lowered his own European record to 47.33, and, in London last month, to 47.12.
Thomas Barr of Ireland, the event’s only definite qualifier for the first of the two Diamond League finals - in Zurich on 29 August - and Yasmani Copello of Turkey have also been running consistently well this season.
Hot men’s 1500m on tap
Meanwhile Warholm’s compatriots Jakob and Filip Ingebrigtsen are competing in what promises to be another momentous Diamond League 1500m spectacle following the race in Monaco last month.
On that occasion 18-year-old Jakob, the European 1500 and 5000m champion, ran 3:30.47 as he finished second to Kenya’s world silver medallist Tim Cheruyiot. While the latter is not in Paris, the Ugandan who finished on Jakob’s heels in the Principality in a national record of 3:30.58, Ronald Musagala, is.
Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, fifth in Monaco in 3:31.38, is also in the field, along with Ethiopia’s 19-year-old IAAF world indoor champion Samuel Tefara. Add into that mix Morocco’s London 2012 bronze medallist Abdelaati Iguider, Kenya’s Bethwell Birgen and Marcin Lewandowski, the Pole who outfoxed the younger Ingebrigtsen to the European Athletics indoor 1500m title in Glasgow this year, and the scene is set for excitement.
France’s European 110m hurdles champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde will seek to deliver a home win, but he will have serious opposition from his friend and rival Sergey Shubenkov, the 2015 world champion whom he narrowly beat to gold in Berlin last summer.
A quintet of 22-metre men to face off
European shot put silver medallist Konrad Bukowiecki threw a personal best of 21.97m this season. That puts him only eighth in the season’s listings, with all seven above him having bettered 22 metres – topped by Rio 2016 champion Ryan Crouser of the United States, who threw 22.74m, putting him sixth on the all-time list, at Long Beach, California on April 20.
The 22-year-old Pole can confirm his place in the Diamond League final with a good performance. But he will have five of the 22 metres-mob to deal with in the shape of Brazil’s Darlan Romani, second behind Crouser on 22.61m, his compatriot, European champion Michal Haratyk, who has thrown 22.32m this year, New Zealand’s world champion Tom Walsh, who has a 22.37m effort to his credit this season, and Luxembourg’s Bob Bertemes, who set a personal best of 22.22m on August 4 and is making his Diamond League debut.
There will be a particular focus of attention in the women’s 100m on Jamaica’s Rio 2016 100 and 200 metres champion Elaine Thompson, joint fastest over the shorter distance this year having run 10.73 in Kingston on 21 June. She faces double world 200m champion Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands and Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the world 100 and 200m silver medallist.
Claye vs Taylor, again
It’s four years since world and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor jumped 18.21m – the second best ever behind Jonathan Edwards of Britain’s 1995 mark of 18.29m. He has a best of 17.92m this year, but his American colleague Will Claye, world and Olympic silver medallist, has been in 18m territory with a mark of 18.14e. Will the traditional order be inverted?
Kendricks looking to topple Lavillenie on home territory
National treasure Renaud Lavillenie, the pole vault world record holder, makes a habit of winning at his home Diamond League meeting. But while the 32-year-old who has taken Olympic and European titles is operating consistently well this season and has cleared 5.85m, he faces a tall order in trying to beat world champion Sam Kendricks, who cleared 6.06m at the US Trials – putting him second on the all-time outdoor list behind Sergey Bubka of Ukraine’s 6.14m.
Intriguingly in this non-Diamond League scoring event, 21-year-old Christopher Nilsen, who beat the event’s rising talent Armand Duplantis to the NCAA title this year by clearing 5.95m – a personal best by nine centimetres – will also be in the field.
Natoya Goule of Jamaica is the fastest this season in the women’s 800m field, having clocked 1min 57.90, but there will be a strong US challenge in the form of Raevyn Rogers and Hanna Green. Home fans will be keen to see Renelle Lamote do enough to qualify for the Diamond League final in Brussels on 6 September.
Meanwhile, world champion Phyllis Francis of the United States and Lisanne de Witte of The Netherlands need to make their mark in the 400m to move into the top eight qualifying places for the Diamond League final in Zurich.
World triple jump champion Yulimar Rojas looks the likely winner in Paris following her personal best effort of 15.11m – putting her 16th on the all-time list – in winning the Pan-American title in Lima earlier this month.
Croatia’s world and Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic, who made a late start to the season because of injury, suffered her third consecutive Diamond League defeat in Birminghm last Sunday as she finished third behind Cubans Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero, who have both thrown over 69 metres this season and are both in Paris, but the Croatian’s season’s best of 68.58m, set on 10 August, shows she is heading back into familiar territory.
Stefanid, Morris and Suhr lead pole vault summit
Jenn Suhr of the United States, the London 2012 pole vault champion, is still flying high at 37, having cleared 4.91m, just a centimetre short of her outdoor best, on 30 March.
She tops this season’s list, but will have to deal with a formidable double challenge in the form of Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi, who is building steadily en route to the defence of her world title, and world indoor champion Sandi Morris of the United States, who is level on third in the 2019 lists with 4.85, along with New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney, who is making her 2019 Diamond League debut in Paris.
Authorised Neutral Athlete Anzhelika Sidorova, who has cleared 4.86 this year, is also in the field.
The men’s high jump looks likely to prove highly competitive, given that eight of the ten athletes involved have cleared between 2.27m and 2.30m this season. The exceptions are Canada’s Michael Mason, who has jumped 2.31m, and Authorised Neutral Athlete Ilya Ivanyuk, who leads the 2019 standings with 2.33m.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF