Fred Kerley nabs his first career Diamond League victory in Rome (© Hasse Sjogren)
World leader Michael Norman will have everyone’s attention in the Prefontaine Classic 400m on 30 June, the seventh stop on the 2019 IAAF Diamond League circuit – likely no one more than Fred Kerley, the defending Diamond League champion.
This will be the first meeting of the two Americans since Kerley swept the NCAA and US titles two years ago. The latter was the last time Norman, then 19, lost a 400m race. The duo combined last month to easily win both 400s on the 2019 IAAF Diamond League circuit so far, Kerley in Shanghai and Norman in Stockholm.
Norman was the world’s fastest last year with a collegiate record 43.61, breaking Kerley’s year-old standard of 43.70. In April he rocked the track world with a 43.45 PB, a time bettered only by the last three world record holders. Last year he also ran the fastest time ever indoors, 44.52.
Norman has dominated almost every 400 he’s run the last two years – his eight-meeting unbeaten streak has an average winning margin of 0.82 seconds. His explosiveness is underscored by his 200m speed, illustrated by world-leading 19.70 at the Rome Diamond League meeting where he edged Noah Lyles.
Kerley, 24, woke up the world when he ran 43.70 two years ago in the NCAA regionals. Not only was it the fastest time ever clocked before June, it also broke the 25-year-old collegiate record of 44.00 set by Quincy Watts – Norman’s coach. Last year he won three Diamond League races, topped by the final in Zurich. This year he has yet to lose and ran a 44.4 second-leg split for the US team at the IAAF World Relays Yokohama 2019 last month.
The field also includes Paul Dedewo of the US, currently ranked No. 4 in the world; Michael Cherry, the 2018 world indoor silver medallist last year; and Nathan Strother, last year's Diamond League runner-up the World Indoor Tour winner earlier this year.
Organisers also announced LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James, respectively the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions. The pair have won every Prefontaine Classic 400m since 2012.
Organisers for the IAAF
2019 IAAF Diamond League calendar
3 May – Doha, QAT
18 May – Shanghai, CHN
30 May – Stockholm, SWE
6 Jun – Rome, ITA
13 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Rabat, MAR
30 Jun – Stanford, USA
5 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
12 Jul – Monaco, MON
20-21 Jul – London, GBR
18 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
24 Aug – Paris, FRA
29 Aug – Zurich, SUI
6 Sep – Brussels, BEL