Last year was a statement season for Edmonton’s Marco Arop. The 24-year-old middle-distance runner set a new Canadian soil 800m record in his hometown, broke the Canadian 1,000m record and capped things off with a world championship bronze medal in Eugene. Arop announced himself as a world-class 800m runner, and his competitors are on notice. At Friday’s Paris Diamond League, Arop will race the two men who finished ahead of him for gold and silver in Eugene.
Although it’s early in the season, Arop has had a quiet start to 2023. Two weeks ago at the Rabat Diamond League, Arop was among the favorites to win, but finished a distant fifth, in 1:46:34. Arop, who usually runs from the front, took a different approach in Rabat. He came through the first 400m in ninth position, around 52 seconds, and struggled to maintain contact with Kenya’s Emmanuel Wanyonyiwho won the race in 1:44.36.
Arop said on his social media that he was not happy with his result in Rabat, but that he is motivated to rebound in Paris. The race won’t be easy, as he will battle world and Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir and the strong Algerian duo of world silver medalist Djamel Sedjati and Slimane Moula, who are both dangerous in a slow, more tactical 800m race. The 800m winner at Paris Diamond League will be the likely favorite heading into the 2023 World Championships in Budapest this August.
Kipyegon vs. Gidey over 5,000m
The world record holder over 5,000m, Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, will open her season at the Paris Diamond League against Kenyan distance star Faith Kipyegon, who broke the women’s 1,500m record last week in Florence. Kipyegon became the first woman to run under 3:50, clocking a time of 3:49.11, surpassing Genzebe Dibaba’s previous record of 3:50.07. The 5,000m isn’t foreign to Kipyegon, whose personal best is a strong 14:31.95, but who has not run the distance since the 2015 Pre Classic. Last week, she showed the world that she is in the best shape of her career, breaking the women’s 1,500m world record that she had stood for eight years.
There are many questions about Gidey’s fitness heading into Paris, since this will be her first track race of the 2023 season. Her only other race came at the 2023 World XC Championships, where she collapsed with less than 200m to go, while leading. Last season, Gidey raced the 5,000m on the Diamond League circuit twice and ran sub 14:30 on both occasions, but didn’t manage to get the win.
Also making a move up to the 5,000m from the 1,500m is Scotland’s Laura Muir. The 30-year-old has not raced a 5,000m since 2017, but she has shown that she is in great shape to start the 2023 season, placing second to Kipyegon in the 1,500m in Florence on June 2. Muir holds a personal best of 14:52.07 and it’s bound to be broken if she is in contention on Friday.
Multiple world record attempts
Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma have announced that they will be shooting for a world record in their respective races. Ingebrigtsen will target Daniel Komen’s two-mile record of 7:58.61, which will require him to run back-to-back sub-four-minute miles. Ingebrigtsen holds the 13th fastest 3,000m in history at 7: 27.05, and he’ll need to be within a second or two of his best dele to knock off Komen’s record, which has stood for 26 years.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen wants to run a marathon
Girma will give the men’s 3,000m steeplechase record a shot. He has won three consecutive silver medals in the discipline (2019 Worlds, 2020 Olympics and 2022 Worlds), mostly losing to the same man, Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, who is not in Friday’s field. Girma’s steeplechase personal best is five seconds slower than the current record of 7:53.63 by Qatari-Kenyan Saif Saaeed Shaheen. Girma set the indoor 3,000m record of 7:23.83 earlier this season, but he said at the pre-race press conference that he refuses to race other distances until he breaks the world record for the 3,000m steeplechase.
How to watch
You can stream all the action from Friday’s Paris Diamond League online with CBC Sports, starting at 2 pm ET