Wednesday, 07 June 2017 04:58

Rome Diamond League preview, broadcast schedule

By Nick Zaccardi | OlympicTalk

Canadian Andre De Grasse, who won a medal of every color in Rio, headlines a Diamond League meet in Rome, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Thursday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Rome, the site of Usain Bolt‘s last individual defeat in 2013, is the first of three Diamond League meets in an 11-day span.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold will also air live coverage of Oslo (June 15) and Stockholm (June 18), the last two meets before the U.S. Championships. Nationals serve as the qualifying meet for the world championships in London in August.

Rio Olympic medalists prepping for nationals in Rome include shot putter Michelle Carter and pole vaulter Sandi Morris.

The meet is deeper with international stars like 1500m world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, world 200m champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and of course De Grasse.

Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

12:15 p.m. — Women’s shot put
1 — Women’s triple jump
1:20 — Women’s pole vault
2:03 — Women’s 400m hurdles
2:10 — Women’s high jump
2:15 — Men’s 3000m steeplechase
2:30 — Men’s 100m
2:35 — Men’s javelin
2:40 — Men’s 800m
2:50 — Women’s 400m
3:05 — Men’s 110m hurdles
3:13 — Women’s 1500m
3:23 — Women’s 100m
3:30 — Men’s 200m
3:40 — Women’s 5000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s pole vault — 1:20 p.m. ET

Every Rio Olympic medalist is here — gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, Morris and bronze medalist Eliza McCartney of New Zealand.

Little separates the trio this year. Stefanidi cleared 4.85 meters indoors, best in the world this year. Morris has cleared 4.84 meters outdoors, best in the world this year. McCartney has cleared 4.82 meters outdoors. The only woman to rival the trio in top clearances this year is 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr, who is not in Rome.

Men’s javelin — 2:35 p.m. ET

Perhaps the deepest field of the meet. It includes the top four from the Rio Olympics, plus two more men who have earned world championships medals.

The headliner is German Olympic champion Thomas Rohler, who on May 5 moved up to No. 2 on the all-time list behind Czech legend Jan Zelezny. Rohler threw 93.90 meters, but he’s still 15 feet shy of Zelezny’s world record from 1996.

Men’s 110m hurdles — 3:05 p.m. ET

Aries Merritt and David Oliver, the top two U.S. hurdlers over the last decade, go head-to-head here in a teaser for the U.S. Championships in two weeks. With Rio Olympic champion Omar McLeod not in the field, it’s wide open.

Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder, has the fastest time this season of those in Rome. The recipient of a 2015 kidney transplant eyes his first Diamond League victory in four years.

Rio silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain and 2015 World champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia are also entered.

Men’s 200m — 3:30 p.m. ET

The 200m is in a transition year now that both Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin have said they don’t plan to race the half-lap event anymore.

While new names have popped up in the 200m this season — Wayde van Niekerk, Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman — the Rome entries represent the old guard in the event.

There are Rio Olympic silver and bronze medalists Andre De Grasse and Christophe Lemaitre. There is Panamanian Alonso Edward, the Diamond League season champion the last three years. And U.S. Olympian Ameer Webb.

De Grasse has struggled in the 100m this season, but this is a prime opportunity to notch his first Diamond League win of 2017.

Women’s 5000m — 3:40 p.m. ET

Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba and Kenyan Hellen Obiri, two of the six fastest women all-time in this event, go head-to-head for the first time.

Dibaba, best known for her 1500m prowess (world record, 2015 World title), is also the indoor 5000m world-record holder. She won the Pre Classic 5000m in 14:25.22 on May 26.

Obiri is the only woman to run faster this year, winning in 14:22.47 in Shanghai on May 13. Obiri, raised a 1500m runner, took 5000m silver in Rio in a personal-best time after a year off to have a baby. Obiri was added to the Rome field as Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana withdrew last month due to a physical problem.