The last major athletics event of the summer on British soil, shaping the main stage in the last act of the qualification process for places on the British team to Daegu, has arrived and there will be a packed two days of top-level star-set action staged at Crystal Palace, featuring the likes of David Rudisha, David Oliver, Phillips Idowu, Bernard Lagat, Mo Farah, Angelo Taylor, Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sanya Richards-RossCarmelita Jeter, and Barbora Spotakova. So let’s have a look through the schedule of the first day and pick up some of the  most interesting stories and characters today moving top-down, that is from the end of the day backwards.

Men’s 3000m

I speculate that Mo Farah could be out to gain hold of David Moorcroft‘s last-standing British record of 7:32.79, set on this very track way back in 1982, and provide the ‘crescendo’ at the end of the first day as well as getting a good sharperner under his belt as the make-up of the race suggests.

There is Kenyan Mark Kosgei Kiptoo to provide a good challenge, a SB of 12:59.91 over 5000m, and an excellent pacemaker in American David Krumenacher while breakthrough Aussie Ben StLawrence, who ran 27:24.95 over 10000m at Stanford in May, reliable Irishman Alastair Cragg and also Kenyan Sammy Alex Mutahi to add quality to the field, though the latter is nowhere near his last summer 13:00.12 form at the moment.

But this is definitely not a top-tier tussle by any means and Mo should prevail with ease having beaten Kiptoo comprehensively in Monaco recenthly, more so of a Mo vs the clock  affair and his devastating form suggests that he should surge inside 7:30 anytime now. Therefore, I can’t really see how Moorcroft’s mark could possibly survive a potential onslaught by Mo today. On the other hand, Mohammed Mourhit‘s European record of 7:26.62 may prove a tough nut to break but nothing could be ruled out.

Women’s 4x100m

I don’t know what the line-ups of the US’s Stars & Stripes or Jamaica are going to be but there are several top sprinters from both countries down for the sprints to pick from, so that could make a very interesting race ahead of Daegue where gold is expected to be decided mainly between the two sides. Britain are competiting through two different quartets but Jeanette Kwakye and Laura Turner have already ruled themselves out.

Men’s 100m

As fortune would have it, neither Tyson Gay nor Asafa Powell, who withdrew due to a groin injury a few hours ago, are going to make the starting line of the men’s dash dealing the finishing blow to what was supposed to shape the climax and the highlight of the meeting a few months ago. Therefore, spectators and viewers will ‘have to do’ with a less glamorous affair between Nesta Carter (JAM), Yohan Blake (JAM), Mike Rodgers (USA), Daniel Bailey (ANT) and Richard Thompson (TRI) that could make for a tight enthralling sprint tussle nevertheless, surprisingly most of them in a packed second semi earlier on.

Which, in turn, is going to make the task of Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francies, in an effective run-off for the third remaining dash spot in the British team, particularly tough to make it through to the final later on, more likely the better of them as a fastest loser. Ricky Fifton is a late addition to this one.

By contrast, Harry Aikines-Ayreety has got a far better chance in the first semi, mainly against Blake, Trell Kimmons (USA) and an inconsistent Keston Bledman (TRI), as Dwain Chambers‘s exile continues due to a substantially groundless and senseless now policy upheld by the organisers. Craig Pickering also goes in this one out in lane eight.

Men’s 110m hurdles

This is building up very much as a dress rehearsal, minus former Olympic champion Liu Xiang (CHN), to what looks now like the ultimate showdown of the World Championships in Daegu as David Oliver and Dayron Robles engage in an anticipated fiercesome and breathtaking decisive encounter over the sticks, where gaining a pcychological edge and boost may be worth well more than prize money at the far end of it. Nevertheless, there is a menacing new force that emerges large on the global scene in the shape of new American star Jason Richardson, who stunned Oliver in Monaco and will fancy his chances of running away with the spoils.

Andy Turner will be looking to close the gap further on them, hopefully dipping into the 13.1 secs, while Lawrence Clarke, William Sharman and Gianni Frankis will be fighting it out for the remaining two places on the British team.

Men’s 400m

Martyn Rooney goes into this one looking to land the A qualifying standard that will fully ensure him of a berth to Daegu and will have to do it the hard way as he has been handed the outside lane, meaning running blind with a strong field inside him even if neither Lashawn Merritt or Jeremy Warriner, who will miss the rest of the season, will be among them. Germaine Gonzales (JAM), great hurdler Angelo Taylor (USA), Christopher Brown (BAH) and prodigy Kirani James (GRN) are expected to set up a thrilling race in the 44 secs region, with in very good form European champion Kevin Borlee also involved.

Women’s 800m

This is effectively the UK Trials race even if nearly a week late save Jenny Meadows who is the only to have secured her place and will be solely focussed on gaining a valuable win over the likes of in-form Kenia Sinclair (JAM),  Irina Maracheva (RUS) and Molly Beckwith (USA), as well as a fast time heading to Daegu. Tara Bird will be pacemaking this one and anyone among Emma Jackson, Marilyn Okoro, returning Jemma Simpson and Lindsay Sharp that finishes inside 1:59.80 and in an incorporated top domestic three will be guaranteed a place.  Otherwise, it will boil down to the ‘shootout’ of B standards.

Men’s 5000m

Just before his ‘best half ‘ makes or breaks in the women’s 800m, Chris Thompson will be venturing on a similar mission to claim the A qualifying standard in a late-inserted race over the distance, where the presence of Kenyan Titus Kipjumba Mbishei and Aussie Craig Mottrah will ensure of a good sustained pace. Andy Vernon may still hold hopes of sneaking under the B standard.

Men’s Long Jump

Reigning world champion Dwight Phillips has withdrawn but there is still a stern test awaiting Chris Tomlinson and Greg Rutherford, both having enjoyed excellent seasons so far, as they will be squaring off with in-hot-form Mitchell Watt (AUS), Olympic champion Irving Saladino (PAN) and Gontsho Mokoena (RSA) in an anticipated pulsating encounter. The recent British record of 8.35m from Tomlinson could go either way where new UK champion Julian Reid is also in looking for a late B standard.

Men’s 800m

This could turn a cracker in so many aspects as last year’s top global athlete David Rudisha clashes with Abubaker Kaki, who has been ranging well beyond his regular distance boundaries lately and it will be interesting to see the effects. American Nick Symmonds and Kenyan Boaz Lalang are two more individuals to watch out for and in good form while I sense that Andie Osagie is poised to take his game into new territories running off such high quality rivals. Muchtar Mohammed will be looking to follow up on his breakthrough 1:45.90 win in Sweden midweek and make it a full quota of athletes for Britain in the event while Welshman Gareth Warburton gets a chance to improve on his own SB substantially.

Women’s 200m

Britain’s teenage sensation Jodie Williams makes her Diamond League debut, has got a great lane in three and will be looking to make the most of some high qualify opposition involving US champion Shalonda Solomon to tear inside Kathy Smallwood-Cook‘s long-standing U20 record of 22.70 since 1979 – always weather-permitting. The American should be a hot favourite to clinch the race.

Women’s Pole Vault

I’ve got a sneaky feeling that sensational Holly Bleasdale could stage a major upset here in a contest that is very much a dress rehearsal of the World Championships in Daegu save Yelena Isinbayeva. and Anna Rogowska (POL). She’s fresh from a huge UK record of 4.70m and a European U23 title, so on a momentum right now, but what has intrigued me is that she cleared that very height at a warm-up attempt in Ostrava to hint that there is a lot more in the tank for her.

Kate Dennison will be also eyeing to improve on her recent PB of 4.61m as she has turned a page into her career while Jenn Suhr (USA), Fabianna Murer (BRA), Martina Struntz (GER), Svetlana Feofanova (RUS) and Nikol Kyriakopouloy (GRE) will be among a top tier field.

Women’s 400m hurdles

Perri Shakes-Drayton looks rampant on the back of a flat/hurdles 400m double at the UK Trials and will be brimming with confidence and form heading into a high level clash with Zuzana Hejnova (CZE), Kaliese Spencer (JAM) and Olympic champion Melaine Walker (JAM), with a sub 54 time beckoning at the finish line. Eilish Child, facing the tough outside lane, is on the verge of a breakthrough inside 55 secs and hopefully she will be on the other side of it shortly today.

Women’s Javelin

Barbora Spotakova (CZE) locks horns with Christina Obergfoll (GER) once again as both will be aiming in the high 60s while Goldie Sayers will hope to return to the mid 60m region and hopefully pick off one of the two, which will be a sound confidence booster.

Advertisements