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Six Events to Watch in Glasgow

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   Jul 10th 2014, 4:43pm

Coburn and McPherson Eye American Records in Glasgow

By Scott Bush 

The Diamond League continues to heat up. With national championships concluded around the globe, the world’s best track and field athletes set their sights on Glasgow, where a showcase of stars set to compete Friday and Saturday.

Here are six events to watch.

Culson v. Tinsley With a Side of Eaton (Friday)

While it’s easy to claim LaShawn Merritt (USA) v. Kirani James (GRN) is the top rivalry in track and field currently, Javier Culson (PUR) v. Michael Tinsley (USA) have their own case. The two show week in and week out they are the very best in the world over 400m of hurdles, while claiming eight of the top ten performances in the world in 2014.

Culson holds the edge currently, with a world’s best time of 48.03, while besting Tinsley at the adidas Grand Prix and Lausanne Diamond League meeting. However, Tinsley is right on his heels, besting Culson in Paris last week with his seasonal best of 48.25 and best the Puerto Rican star at the Drake Relays early on in the season. These two make this the race to watch Friday. Expect some fireworks!

Oh, and not to be overlooked, Ashton Eaton (USA) looks to improve his 48.94 personal best. As Eaton learns the event throughout the season, there is no question his times should continue to drop. He currently ranks 13th in the world. A tenth of a second improvement moves him up to eighth, which seems completely reasonable in Glasgow. Regardless, seeing him take on Tinsley and Culson is a fun watch for the world’s best athlete.

Can Inika McPherson Break the American High Jump Record? (Saturday)

It’s been a few years now since Chaunté Lowe set her American record of 2.05m (6-8.75) in the high jump, but it’s in jeopardy of falling Saturday in Glasgow. Reigning USA champion Inika McPherson threw down a personal best earlier in the season, when she cleared 1.96m at the Drake Relays. She shocked the track community at USA Outdoors thought when she cleared a world #2 mark of 2.00m, showing she’s one to watch the rest of the season.

McPherson continues to rise in 2014. Winning the U.S. title certainly was a highlight, but she has to be dreaming of Lowe’s American record now. It’ll be interesting to see if she gets back after her winning ways after finishing a disappointing sixth in Paris last week, only a few days after USAs. The field is stacked, so she’ll have to step up her game.

Leading the way as pre-event favorites are Anna Chicherova (RUS) and Blanka Vlasic (CRO). Chicherova won the high jump at Pre with a world leading best of 2.01m, but Vlasic won in Paris last week with a seasonal best performance of 2.00m and continues to show signs of rapid improvement on the season.

Ana Simic (CRO) and Justyna Kasprzycka (POL) own seasonal bests of 1.98m and 1.99m. Simic won early season meetings in Beijing and Shanghai, while finishing third in Oslo and Paris more recently. Kasprzycka finished second at Pre, while tying McPherson for sixth in Paris. Both could take home top prize if they find consistency in their approach early on.

Coburn Looks to Leap Over American Record (Saturday)

Emma Coburn (USA) is after the American record of 9:12.50 set by her training mate Jenny Simpson back in 2009. Coburn’s season is arguably the best season in American history and she’s far from done. After winning her first Diamond League competition in Shanghai, Coburn set a USA Outdoor Championship record, winning her third title in 9:19.72. Then she finished a close second in Paris with her 9:14.12 personal best. She’s running the best she’s ever run, owns four of the top ten marks in the world and gains confidence every time out.

As Coburn seeks to break Simpson’s American record, as well as win Saturday in Glasgow, she’ll have to go threw Ethiopians Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew. Coburn ran away from both in Shanghai, but still has plenty of work to do to take the “world’s best” title away from them. Ayalew bested Coburn by just over two second in Paris, while Assefa ran to victory at Pre in a world leading time of 9:11.39. Coburn did beat Assefa in Paris, so the battle between these three Saturday is arguably the best race to watch. So close!

Tori Bowie is Back on Track…Maybe (Saturday)

UPDATE: Bowie scratched from the 200m. Apparently, the injury she sustained at USA Outdoors is still an issue.

A few weeks ago, Tori Bowie (USA) was the talk of the track and field world. Big 100m and 200m wins, impressive personal best performances and a huge world-leading time in the 200m at Pre made her the women to beat as the season moved forward.

Fast-forward to Glasgow and many are wondering what kind of shape Bowie is in. The young sprinter pulled up at USA Outdoors, withdrawing due to a slight injury. Since then, she’s been quiet, but heading into the 200m Saturday, she’s still on the start list and ready to test herself again. Can she reach her 22.18 best this time around or will Glasgow be more of a rust buster?

Bowie is chased by experienced superstars Blessing Okagbare (NGR) and Allyson Felix (USA). Okagbare is on fire as of late. While she placed a close second to Bowie at Pre, she owns three of the eight fastest times in the world this season, including a victory of 22.32 in Paris last week, just edging Felix.

Felix’s stock is on the rise. After a slow start to her season, she continues to improve every time out. Felix placed third at Pre and improved on her seasonsal best finishing .02 behind Okagbare in Paris with her 22.34. Both Felix and Okagbare are in fine form, which makes this one heck of a race to follow.

While Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce scratched out, assuming she is still feeling a lingering injury, Dafne Schippers (NED) and Anthonique Strachan (BAH) add depth to the field. Schippers enters with a 22.35 seasonal best, while Strachan finished third to Okagbare and Felix in Paris with her 22.54 seasonal best performance. Both athletes could surprise and challenge for top two if any of the other three stars are off their game.

Claye and Taylor Get Some Competition (Saturday)

Look at Will Claye (USA) and Christian Taylor (USA) and you can argue they are the best two triple jumpers in the world this season. Claye owns three of the top seven marks in the world, with big wins at Pre, Rome, Oslo and USA Outdoors. Meanwhile, Taylor has gone 17.11m or better four times this season, all runner-up performances (Pre, Oslo, USAs and Paris).

Claye and Taylor continue to dominate the event and love to put on a show, but in Scotland they’ll have their hands full with Ernesto Revé (CUB). Revé has been fairly quiet this season since opening it up back in February with two marks of 17.50m+. Despite not hitting that mark again, he does provide serious competition to the two Americans, as all search for major bragging rights as the Diamond League season moves forward. 

Claye and Taylor won’t be the only Americans challenging for the win, as Chris Benard is fully capable of upsetting the field, too. Benard placed third to Claye and Taylor at USA Outdoors with a 17.10m seasonal best. He certainly eyes improving the mark and this weekend in Scotland gives him a great opportunity to do so.

Sub-13 Time for An American Man (Friday)

As usual, the men’s 5,000m race is loaded with international talent. A steady stream of top Kenyan and Ethiopian talent will get much of the pre-race attention, but there are four Americans looking to push the 13-minute barrier.

First, the leaders of the pack should be Yenew Alamirew (ETH), Thomas Longosiwa (KEN) and Edwin Soi (KEN). Soi is the only man in the world to dip under 13 so far in 2014, with his 12:59.82 winning performance in Paris. Soi edged Alamirew, who finished second in 13:00.21, and actually ran his third performance of 13:02.91 or faster for the season. Longosiwa is poised to push the magical mark, too, considering his 13:01.74 in Paris.

While the leaders key in on a fast pace, the Americans should run right on their heals. USA Outdoor 5,000m champion and American 5k record holder Bernard Lagat has yet to be in a very fast 5,000m race this season, but he’s always a sure bet to challenge for the win. His win in Sacramento shows he’s not losing a step in performance despite pushing 40 years of age.

Lagat will be pushed for top American status though, as the second, third and fourth place finishers from USAs are in the field. Hassan Mead finished third in Sacramento, but his 13:02.80 mark from Payton Jordan earlier in the season shows just what the Oregon Track Club Elite athlete is capable of.

Same goes for Bowerman Track Club’s Andrew Bumbalough and Ryan Hill. They finished second and fourth at USAs, while having seasonal bests of 13:13 and 13:14. Both undoubtedly want to go sub-13:10, but more importantly push sub-13:05. Put yourself in position for something special and anything can happen.

American distance running fans have waited for another sub-13 mark from a U.S. runner. Galen Rupp finished fourth in Paris last week in 13:00.99, so we’re still waiting. Here’s to hoping we see someone crack it (the first of many Americans in 2014) in Glasgow.

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