The two-day finale of the Diamond League takes place in Zurich this Wednesday and Thursday. The world’s best athletes will compete for Zurich vying for the $30,000 grand prize and title of Diamond League champion.
Arop has been in remarkable form since the end of the Olympic Games, winning two of three Diamond League 800m races in less than a week. The only race he did not win he placed third, in a kick to the finish. He comes into Zurich off almost two week’s rest – the longest break he’s had since before the Games. The Kenyan middle-distance trio of Emmanuel Korir, Ferguson Rotich and Wyclife Kinyamal will try to spoil the party for the Canadian. It is important to note that Arop has beaten both Korir and Rotich (who were the gold and silver medallists in Tokyo) in two of the last three races. Rotich has had a long season dating back to Kenya’s Olympic trials in early June and ran last weekend in Brussels.
Brown and Canada’s golden boy De Grasse will go up against one another in the men’s 200m. It’s hard to bet against the gold medallist, who keeps racing better and better as the season evolves. After years of battling injuries and the pressure of being the heir to Usain Bolt, De Grasse has stepped up to the plate. He has the fastest time this year (in the field) at 19.62, and if he gets out of the blocks well, he won’t lose. U.S. sprinter Kenny Bednarek has become a 200m star this season, winning time and time again on the circuit. Bednarek became the first athlete ever to run under 20 seconds 10 times in a single season. Bednarek and American co-star Fred Kerley will challenge De Grasse for the title in the 200m race. Canada’s Brown will look to end his season on a high note, shooting toward a sub-20-second finish in Zurich.
De Grasse aspires to follow in the footsteps of Bolt to win two Diamond League titles within the same season. It will be interesting to see De Grasse battle against Kerley, who beat him for the silver medal in Tokyo. In the Olympic final, De Grasse was stuck in lane 9, which is not ideal for sprinters, due to a weaker qualifying time compared to the rest of the field. De Grasse has dipped under the Canadian record of 9.84 several times this season, but each time it has been a wind-aided result. Look for De Grasse to break his personal best of 9.89 and the Canadian record Thursday.
Another notable race is the women’s 1,500m. It’s loaded, with five of the top six female 1,500m runners in the world currently. Sifan Hassan, who almost broke her own mile world record last weekend in Brussels, will be seeking revenge against one of the two women who beat her in Tokyo, 1,500m gold medallist Faith Kipyegon. Kipyegon has been dominant all season. Not only is she one of the fastest women of all time, but she’s also an amazing tactical racer against her competitors. She is the only athlete who has humbled Sifan Hassan throughout her career, and this duel between the two athletes in Zurich will be a race to remember.
The men’s 1,500m, featuring Stewart McSweyn and Jakob Ingebrigtsen is a matchup we’ve seen before. McSweyn isn’t known for his kick, but he’s known to keep an honest pace and separate the contenders from the pretenders. Unfortunately, that’s his style of racing, and Ingebrigtsen has absolutely mastered the way to beat him by sitting on his back a majority of the race until the final 300m. McSweyn is coming off a win in Brussels, where Ingebrigtsen did not compete. Timothy Cheruiyot, who won silver in Tokyo, will have a similar game plan to McSweyn.
Day one of the Diamond League final will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 8. at 11:30 a.m. with the men’s and women’s 5,000m kicking things off. You can watch all the action on CBC Sports.