Diamond League: The pen-penultimate meet

As with many track and field competitions, the Diamond League is coming to a conclusion that should be exciting but is a little odd.

Each event is contested seven times during the spring and summer. The finals in each event are split between the last two meets in Zurich and Brussels. In those meets, the points are doubled — 8 points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third.

This weekend’s meet in London is two days (Friday/Saturday, hopefully on a working Universal Sports stream), and it has the penultimate gathering for each event. Except, for some reason, five — men’s 200, men’s 800, men’s 5,000, women’s 100 and women’s pole vault.

The full standings in PDF form are here under the link “Actual Standings.” The events to watch, admittedly from a provincial U.S. point of view:

MEN

100: The marquee sprint has been disappointing because of the injury wave among the Big Three of Usain Bolt (JAM), Tyson Gay (USA) and Asafa Powell (JAM). Bolt only ran twice, beating Powell in Paris and losing to Gay in Stockholm, before shutting things down for the season. Powell leads the Diamond Race with 10 points, winning two races, but he sat out in Stockholm. Powell, Richard Thompson (TRI, 7 pts) and Gay (4) are all scheduled to start. They’ll run two heats, so several more Americans are in the current field of 16.

400: Jeremy Wariner (USA, 16) is 4-for-4 and can clinch the Diamond title by beating Jermaine Gonzales (JAM, 8), who won in Wariner’s absence in Monaco.

110 hurdles: David Oliver (USA, 16) has dominated the event with four wins and should make his season title official here. Ryan Wilson (USA, 6) is second. Dayron Robles (CUB, 4) won in Oliver’s absence in Rome but will miss this one.

400 hurdles: Bershawn Jackson (USA, 16) has three wins and has twice finished second to Kerron Clement (USA, 10). Clement is out, so Jackson almost has this one sewn up.

Long jump: Dwight Phillips (USA, 12) has had a good season-long duel with Fabrice Lapierre (AUS, 11). Irving Saladino (PAN, 7) also is in the mix and upset Phillips in Eugene.

Shot put: Christian Cantwell (USA, 20) is the only male athlete with a perfect record. He has clinched the season title ahead of Dylan Armstrong (CAN, 6).

Javelin: Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR, 18) won the first four of the season but finally dropped one to Tero Pitkamaki (FIN, 8), leaving a mathematical chance that the Finn could catch him.

WOMEN

200: Allyson Felix (USA, 10) took control of the event with two straight wins after a loss to Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM, 4). She’ll virtually clinch it here.

400: Felix (USA, 8) has two wins here as well, sharing the lead with Amantle Montsho (BOT). They’re both entered in London along with Shericka Williams (JAM, 5), Debbie Dunn (USA, 5) and everyone else.

800: Alysia Johnson (USA, 8) has won the last two events to take the lead from Janeth Jepkosgei (KEN, 7). This is wide-open — 10 runners have points.

100 hurdles: Lolo Jones (USA, 13) is looking to bounce back from an upset loss in Stockholm. She leads Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (CAN, 10) and Sally Pearson (AUS, 4), who finished 2-1 in Stockholm.

400 hurdles: Lashinda Demus (USA, 12) won the first three, then stumbled in Monaco and isn’t entered here. Kaliese Spencer (JAM, 12) is.

High jump: Blanka Vlasic (CRO, 20) has edged Chaunte Howard-Lowe (USA, 10) in all five meets so far. Vlasic has all but clinched the title, but their competitions have been entertaining.

Long jump: Brittney Reese (USA, 10) won in Lausanne and Paris ahead of Naide Gomes (POR, 7) before both lost in Stockholm to Darya Klishina (RUS, 5).

Javelin: An American contender in a women’s throwing event? Kara Patterson (USA, 8) trails Barbora Spotakova (CZE, 12).

Other events:

MEN

1,500: It’s all Kenya, with Asbel Kiprop (14) and Augustine Kiprono Choge (7) dominating.

3,000 steeplechase: Kenyans have the top five spots and a tie for sixth. American Ben Bruce scored a point in Gateshead. The co-leaders at 9: Brimin Kiprop Kipruto and Paul Kipsiele Koech.

High jump: Close one, with Linus Thornblad (SWE, 9) leading Ivan Ukhov (RUS, 8) and Jesse Williams (USA, 7).

Pole vault: Renaud Lavillenie (FRA, 16) has a commanding lead over Malte Mohr (GER, 7), with charismatic Olympic and world champion Steven Hooker (AUS, 4) not quite at full strength.

Triple jump: Wide-open with Teddy Tamgho (FRA, 8), Alexis Copello (CUB, 8), David Giralt (CUB, 6), Phillips Idowu (GBR, 5) and Christian Olsson (SWE, 4).

Discus: Piotr Malachowski (POL, 14) leads Zoltan Kovago (HUN, 11).

WOMEN

1,500: Nancy Jebet Langat (KEN, 13) could clinch over Gelete Burka (ETH, 7).

5,000: Sentayehu Ejigu (ETH, 12) won in Monaco to take the lead over Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN, 8).

3,000 steeplechase: Milcah Chemos Cheiywa (KEN, 16) has three wins and two seconds, leading Gladys Jerotich Kipkemoi (KEN, 8).

Triple jump: Yargelis Savigne (CUB, 14) leads Olga Rypakova (KAZ, 12).

Shot put: Nadezhda Ostapchuk (BLR, 16) has four wins, with Valerie Adams-Vili (NZL, 12) second all four times.

Discus: Yarelis Barrios (CUB, 12) has a six-point lead.

Events not running in London:

Men’s 200: Walter Dix (USA) has clinched with four wins, including a win in his only head-to-head showdown with Gay and two wins over Wallace Spearmon (USA). This event will likely end up a U.S. sweep with Bolt, who won the season opener, out of action.

Men’s 800: David Rudisha (KEN, 12) has three wins but has left the door open for Mbulaeni Mulaudi (RSA, 8), Abubaker Kaki Khamis (SUD, 6) and Marcin Lewandowski (POL, 5), each of whom has one win.

Men’s 5,000: Kenya has the 1,500; Ethiopia has the 5,000. Imane Merga (12) has run all six races, with two wins and four thirds. The three-way tie for second, with each runner posting a first and second during the season: Tariku Bekele (ETH), Vincent Kiprop Chepkok (KEN), Eliud Kipchoge (KEN).

Women’s 100: Carmelita Jeter (USA, 17) has clinched despite an upset loss in Eugene to the Jamaican tandem of Veronica Campbell-Brown (6) and Shelly-Ann Fraser (4). Lashauntea Moore (USA, 4) also is in the mix.

Women’s pole vault: No Yelena Isibayeva, no Jenn Suhr, so it’s Fabiana Murer (BRA, 15) leading the age-defying Svetlana Feofanova (RUS, 10).

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