Athletics Exclusive

LaCaze and Samuels face stellar fields in Monaco

The Herculis Diamond League meeting takes place this evening in Monaco, a location best known for it’s relaxed approach to income taxation and unique ratio of super-yachts to humans.

The principality bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea regularly compiles fields of World and Olympic champions, with no expense spared, the start lists for the Herculis Meeting are some of the best on offer throughout the Diamond League season.

The events to keep an eye out during the broadcast include the 1500m, 800m and Triple Jump on the Men’s side, whilst the Women’s section of the event will focus on 1500m, Steeplechase and Discus fields.


Men’s 800m

In 2014, this race wound up as the 2nd race in history to yield 5 sub-1:43 performances, with Nijel Amos emerging victorious in 1:42.45. This year’s race holds the same potential to be extremely quick, with the slowest of the 10 man field having registered a 1:43.95 personal best, in enigmatic youngster Alfred Kipketer.

Whilst the field lacks David Rudisha, and thus may become tactical without the World Record holder’s signature front-running style, the likes of Mohammed Aman, Nijel Amos and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse will be eager to assert themselves prior to the World Championships. However, Amos’ health is in question, whilst Amos has been undefeated since early June, his last outing in Lausanne ended with a track official helping him limp off the track, potentially over-exerting himself to fend off Rudisha in the home straight.

If you’re a viewer in search of an upset of sorts, Ayanleh Souleiman should approach this race in aggressive fashion, having passed on the loaded 1500m field in favour of the 2-lap distance, the current World Leader, having won comfortably in Barcelona in 1:43.08, will finally be put to the test by the world’s best 800m specialists, known for his ability in fast races, Souleiman is unlikely to shy away from upsetting the 800m field.

Previously unsponsored athletes Boris Berian (USA) and Amel Tuka (Bosnia & Herzegovina) are in search of breakout races, having started the year as 1:46 and 1:48 men respectively, both are now 1:43 men, with Monaco representing the grandest competitive opportunity of their career’s thus far.


Men’s 1500m

The Monaco 1500m tends to act as a yearly attempt at the World Record, with Asbel Kiprop often requesting a pace of 1:50 through 800m.

The field is filled with the who’s who of 1500m running, names like Centrowitz, Ingebrigtsen, Kiprop, Farah, Iguider, Makhloufi, Manzano, Willis and Wote set up a race that is more often judged by it’s number of sub-3:30 clocking’s.

Five sub 3:30 competitors will toe the line on Friday night, most likely aware of Willis’ statement earlier in the week of a successful 800m time trial, having run 1:46.9 in training, the 3:29 New Zealander traditionally tests himself over 800m the week of this historically fast race.

Whilst only running 1:50 last year, he still managed a sub-3:30 clocking, a 1:46 800m time trial bodes well for Willis, often running an even, or negative-split race, he will look to close rapidly over the final 300m.

The last 3 years of 1500m races in Monaco have been won in 3:28.88, 3:27.72 and 3:27.64, the pacemakers will be under specific orders to produce a race of similarly blistering conditions.

The match-up to pay closest attention to will involve Kiprop and Farah, with both entering the meet coming off Diamond League victories, plus Kiprop’s confident win in the Kenyan Championships over 800m, both athletes will be likely followers of the early pace, as Kiprop’s usual pace team of Kivuva and Rotich are sacrificial lambs for the field.

Fans of US distance running will be betting the house on Centrowitz, winning in emphatic fashion over Manzano at US Championships over the same distance, the often brash young athlete struggled in his last Diamond League outing, clocking 1:49 over 800m, citing the race as “a bad day” which he was pleased to have rid his system of prior to the pressure-cooker environment present in Monaco.

Times under the 3:30 barrier have become rarer and rarer on the Diamond League circuit, Monaco places an expectation on the field to perform, this race favours those willing to take risks and prioritise time over placing, a tactic of the 90’s and early 00’s that could do with a revival.


Men’s Triple Jump

An event that has snatched headlines recently, both Christian Taylor and Pedro Pablo Pichardo are in career-best form, having both set personal bests, 18.04m and 18.06m, in Lausanne last week, the World Record previously considered untouchable, set by Jonathan Edwards of Great Britain in 1995 (18.29m) faces its most realistic challenge for 20 years.


Women’s 1500m

A field containing all the usual suspects, Simpson and Hassan face off against Genzebe Dibaba, who produced the 9th fastest performance in history recently in Barcelona.
Dibaba is known for her versatility over events ranging from 1500m to 5000m, but a 3:54.11 personal best was a warning presented with the subtlety of a freight train.

Should Dibaba choose to double at World’s over 1500m and 5000m, Simpson and Hassan face a pace-related issue neither can resolve in a time trial-style race. Where tactics are concerned, both women are at least 3 seconds slower, with only Simpson holding a 3-1 winning record over a ferociously dominant Dibaba, having won situations where she has remained in striking distance with 100m to go, the Ethiopian 5000m expert will look to strike further fear into the minds of her rival competitors, with the potential for a style of paced race that favours neither Simpson or Hassan.


Women’s 3000m Steeplechase

Australian steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze found the early pace difficult to bear in a windy race over the barriers in Lausanne last week, however, the opportunity to run a fast time will be presented once more to LaCaze, with 12 athletes in the field having run under 9:30 and Coburn, Ghribi and Kirui looking to better Kiying’s current World Lead of 9:15.08.
The flogged to death catchphrase, “hanging with the field”, could place LaCaze in a personal best situation, as a formidable field is set to act as an invaluable learning experience for the plucky Aussie prior to the Beijing World Championships,


Women’s Discus

Facing a small, yet competitive field, Dani Samuels has the opportunity to improve on her 3 Diamond League podium finishes this season, showing world-class ability in Doha, Rome and Birmingham, Samuels sits 3rd on the Diamond League ladder.

Sandra Perkovic (Croatia) leads the current Diamond League competition, clearing 70 metres this season, with the absence of Cubans Yaimi Perez and World Leader Denia Caballero, the winner of 4 of the previous 5 Diamond League competitions shall look to make a bold statement as Beijing draws closer.

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Sean Whipp
Sean is a contributor to Athletics Exclusive in the areas of international results and racing. His background consists of events from 800m up to 5000m as a proud member of Frankston Athletics Club.

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