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Four Events to Watch at the adidas Grand Prix

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   Jun 13th 2014, 3:37pm

Stars Come Out in New York City

By Scott Bush

The adidas Grand Prix, the sixth stop of the Diamond League season and final in the United States, brings together a heap of international superstar track and field talent, including rising superstar Tori Bowie (USA), sprinters LaShawn Merritt (USA) and Yohan Blake (JAM), as well as Abeba Aregawi (SWE), Bohdan Bondarenko (UKR) and the always entertaining Lolo Jones (USA). With so much talent on the track and in the field in New York City, we break down four of the must-watch events of Saturday's action. 

Women's 100m Hurdles

Despite world leading Brianna Rollins (USA) not entered in the field, this race is stacked with talent and potential drama. Leading the charge is Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA), who nearly edged Rollins last week in Rome, losing at the line 12.53-12.54. Harper-Nelson is in fanstastic shape and seems poised for another big season. She enters as the pre-race favorite, but has plenty of competition from fellow American Queen Harrison, who finished third in Rome in 12.61.

Harrison enters with four performances of 12.70 or faster this season. Her Rome time is the second best performance of the season, with her best coming with a 12.56 winning effort a week before in Hengelo. With two more 12.70 efforts to her name, Harrison is showing consistency that puts her right up there among the world's best. 

Cindy Ballaud (FRA) and Tiffany Porter (GBR) are two stars who've quietly had very successful seasons to this point. Ballaud finished fourth in Rome with a seasons best of 12.69, while Porter owns a seasonal best of 12.71 and is the reigning World Championship bronze medalist. Those two could easily sneak up and upset the Americans. 

Not to be overlooked, and we all know she won't be, Lolo Jones (USA) is coming on and running the best she has all season. She recently won in a seasonal best of 12.71 in Marrakech and looks to improve that mark Saturday. Remember, there is bad blood between Harper-Nelson and Jones, so don't miss the potential trash talking or showboating that may arise at the end of the race. Game on!

Men's 400m Hurdles

The men's long hurdles feature the top two (arguably top three) best in the event in 2014. Michael Tinsley (USA) has been on fire this season. He currently leads the world rankings with his 48.57 winning effort at the Drake Relays, while also owning a 48.77 winning effort in Shanghai. 

While Tinsley is the slight favorite, his closest rival is Javier Culson (PUR), who's run three of the five fastest times in 2014. Culson ran to a runner-up effort against Tinsley at Drake, finishing just off in 48.68. His two first place finishes on the season came in Hengelo where he finished in 48.66 and Ponce with a 48.69 time. Similar to the women's 100m hurdles and Queen Harrison, such consistency means Tinsley has to be on his game if he hopes to hold off Culson. 

Then there is veteran champion Bershawn Jackson (USA). Jackson continues to show he's one of the world's best. He holds a 48.76 seasonal best coming in Charlottesville, Virginia early last month. He placed second to Tinsley in 48.92 at the Shanghai meeting and being only .15 Tinsley, he's more than capable to take the win in New York City.

Don't think we forgot about defending World Champion Jehue Gordon (TTO). Gordon's quiet start to his season leaves him as a relative question mark heading into Saturday's action. The only truly notable performance he's had thus far in 2014 is a 49.32 runner-up finish at the Jamaica International Invitational, finishing behind Felix Sanchez (DOM), who's also entered in the field. Can either athlete step it up and dip under the 49 second barrier? If so, look out.

Women's 1,500m

It's Abeba Aregawi (SWE) v. Jenny Simpson (USA) part three. The two global 1,500 superstars are ready to battle for the third time this outdoor season. Rounds one and two went to Aregawi, who bested Simpson for the win in Shanghai and finished just ahead of Simpson for the runner-up position at the Pre Classic. Simpson's had a tough go to edge Aregawi, but she's getting closer this season. 

Aregawi beat Simpson in Shanghai by 1.5 seconds, but at Pre the Swede bested the American by .71 seconds, as Simpson set a personal best of 3:58.28. Both athletes are running extremely well this season, so don't be surprised if they cruise away from the field over the final lap in New York Saturday. The question is, can Simpson finally edge Aregawi in front of the American crowd?

The two won't be alone, however, as Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum is showing she'll put up a fight after her 3:59.23 winning effort last week in Marrakech. World Championship medalist Brenda Martinez (USA) comes off a rather disappointing performance in Oslo earlier in the week over 800m, but did run 1:59 for the win in Hengelo just a few days before. If she can position herself a bit better in NYC, she'll have a shot with her terrific speed to upset the field.

Then, of course, eyes will focus in on prep phenom Alexa Efraimson (USA). While fellow teen sensation Mary Cain (USA) switched over to the 800m, Efraimson has a legit shot to not just break, but smash, the 4:10 barrier. Her PR is well off the time, but after soloing a 4:33.29 1,600m (which converts to 4:14 for 1,500m) and 2:04.14 800m distance double two weeks ago at her state meet, the high school junior is poised to do something special in the professional field.

Women's 100m

Is there any athlete hotter right now than Tori Bowie (USA)? After a shocking win from lane one against a superstar field in the Prefontaine Classic 200m dash, Bowie came back to win the women's 100m at the Rome Golden Gala last week. Her 200m performance ranks her tops in the world at the moment, while her 11.05 time in Rome ranks her number six in the world. Bowie is taking her talent to a whole new level this season and is one of the must-see athletes Saturday. 

While Bowie comes in with a steady stream of media attention, she isn't a clear-cut favorite. Jamaican Samantha Henry-Robinson enters with the top time with her 11.00 winning mark in Florida back in April. She's been very quiet since then, but you can never overlook a runner who's gone 11-flat. 

Fellow Jamaican Kerron Stewart is running the best she's run all season heading into Saturday's action. Stewart, running in the second heat of the women's 100m in Rome, ran a seasonal best of 11.08 and certainly has the experience to take the race. 

Bowie, Henry-Robinson and Stewart are the three fastest in the field, but American track fans should keep eyes on young pros Octavious Freeman and English Gardner. Both are competing in their first seasons as professional athletes, and while they are both struggling to find the groove they each owned the 100m event in 2013. Gardner finished fourth at the World Championships in Moscow, while Freeman placed eighth in the final. The 22 year olds may be competing at far less than they are capable of, but that also means they are due for a breakthrough. 


Follow the action on USATF.tv Saturday and keep tabs on the news and results.

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