This article, Bol and Deng Take Aim in Monaco Diamond League Preview, originally appeared on athletics.org.au – home of Athletics Australia.
In our preview of Monaco and London we gave a run down of all the action this weekend. With Sean Whipp on the ground in Monaco to cover all the action here’s an extended preview with thoughts from the dynamic duo Peter Bol and Joseph Deng along with coach Justin Rinaldi, who has flown in for the Herculis meet.
The 18,000 seat Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco last featured prominently in Australian middle-distance running in 2014 and 2010, as Alex Rowe and Ryan Gregson set respective 800m and 1500m national records of 1:44.40 (equal NR) and 3:31.06.
Precocious Australian’s Peter Bol and Joseph Deng star in a field of 11, and whilst they have been used to racing in big fields together, it will be the first time this season they have shared the same lane. The field is headed by Jonathan Kitilit (1:43.46SB, KEN), the in-form athlete of the Diamond League season having recorded 1:43 clockings in Shanghai, Hengelo and Paris.
Challengers include Alfred Kipketer (1:42.87, KEN), Pierre-Ambrose Bosse (1:42.87, FRA) and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos (1:41.73, BOT).
Amos, the equal third-fastest athlete in the history of the two-lap event has requested an audacious pace of 49.60sec through 400m, with training partner Harun Abda (USA) tasked with pacing duties.
A meet of such repute can cripple some athletes with pre-race anxiety, a concern not evident in the faces of Peter Bol or Joseph Deng this evening, as both athletes joked their way through a series of pre-meet drills and sprints. Deng and Bol described the event as an enormous opportunity to do something special, and yet another world class event in which both young athletes can prove their competitiveness on the global stage.
Facing a field of 11 athletes and a pacer, Deng and Bol will be eager to utilise their Diamond League experience in Friday’s race, commenting on what racing in Stockholm and Paris has provided in their race repertoires.
“Confidence. Running with depth like that, it’s not going to be strange going up against those boys tomorrow, because we’ve already faced up against them in Paris and Stockholm. There’s always nerves, but, we’re meant to be here” remarked 24-year old Bol.
“49.60? Yeah I’m a front runner… I’d feel confident running something like that, but in tomorrow’s race I think we’ll be going through in closer to 50 point. We won’t be leading, that’s for sure! I think we’ll aim to sit fifth or sixth and just cruise through” chuckled Deng.
Bol adopted a philosophical approach toward the ambitious split times, when asked if he would alter his race style specifically for the event, “Nope, but at the same time, the race might not be the 49.60 requested, so we have to run in a way we know how to run best, so positioning becomes really important in that sort of race. I think going through in 50 high to 51 flat would be perfect for us – wherever that puts me, I think you can find yourself in the top five if you approach the first lap that way.”
Bol and Deng’s Melbourne-based coach, Justin Rinaldi, has travelled to the tiny Principality of Monaco, which is home to the IAAF, for the race, commenting on the competitive focus of the European season, quick to illustrate the process-based focus of both athletes.
“The whole focus of this trip has been to be competitive on the world stage. We haven’t really chased times, we’ve just thought if you run well and you’re competitive, the times will take care of themselves. I think we’ve seen in each race, the boys have been pushing themselves to be competitive with these bigger name guys, and the results are coming.”
Should Deng race to another 1:44 clocking, the 19-year old would have the most sub-1:45 clocking’s of any Australian, currently tied at three a piece with Jeff Riseley.
In what is a meet filled with Olympic and World Champions, each event provides a thrilling showdown, including the 18-metre-plus triple jumpers Christian Taylor (USA) and Pedro Pablo Pichardo (POR) on the runway. Three sub-50-second 400m runners this season in Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH), Shakima Wembley (USA) and Salwa Eid Naser (BRN) face off. The middle-distance program is bolstered by a 1500m battle royale between Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN), Elijah Manangoi (KEN), Filip Ingebrigtsen (NOR) and Matthew Centrowitz (USA), as both Kenyan World Championship medalists have suggested an 800m split of 1:50.5.