Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew, representing Asia-Pacific, and US runner Paul Chelimo, representing the Americas, look the two likely leaders here.
Both men chased home Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha in the hottest 3000m race of the season so far at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat, with Balew finishing second in 7:34.26 – the second fastest time run this year – and Chelimo fourth, both in the race and the list, with 7:34.83.
Chelimo may not be the fastest on paper, but he is the tried and tested man for the big occasion, having won 5000m silver behind Mo Farah at the 2016 Olympics and bronze at last year’s IAAF World Championships in London.
Chelimo finished sixth in the superfast 5000m at last Friday’s IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels in 12:57.55, two places ahead of Ethiopia’s Getaneh Molla, representing Africa here, who clocked 12:59.58.
Chances are there also for Balew’s teammate, Stewart McSweyn of Australia. It’s been a long season for him, but he was also in the Rabat race and finished between Balew and Chelimo in 7:34.79.
Chelimo’s teammate Mohammed Ahmed of Canada ran a 7:52.06 3000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon and finished ninth in Brussels in 13:03.08.
At 16, Kenya’s Edward Zakayo has already amassed a formidable record on the track, having won 5000m bronze at this year’s Commonwealth Games and gold at the African Championships in Asaba and the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere.
For Europe, Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen was European 1500m champion in 2012 and took European 5000m silver in Berlin last month behind his 17-year-old brother Jakob.
Many international athletics top stars have already signed up for Weltklasse Zürich 2018. The meeting on 30
August will be another exciting showdown of the sport’s finest athletes
Fastest Man of the Year to Race in the 200m
The world sprint giants will clash in the 200m in Zurich this year. The fastest man of the year, Noah Lyles (USA), is out to pick up a second Diamond Trophy. His opponents in Zurich will include World and European champion Ramil Guliyev (TUR) and the Swiss national record holder and European championship bronze medallist Alex Wilson. Lyles, still only 21 years old, has already clocked 19.65 this year. He has not yet qualified for the 100m final in Brussels, however. The second sprint final will be staged at the IAAF Diamond League final event in Brussels on 31 August.
Shot Putters to Flex their Muscles in Zurich
Walsh, Crouser, Hill, Romani, Haratyk, Storl, Stanek, Whiting. The entry list in the men’s shot put reveals a cast of Olympic, world, and European champions and medallists. European champion Michal Haratyk (POL) will challenge world leader Tomas Walsh (NZL) and Ryan Crouser (USA). They will treat the Zurich fans to a competition on an extraordinary level.
Swiss Stars in the International Programme of Events
Athletics has been on the rise in Switzerland and has produced a number of stars who will be part of this year’s international programme. Angelica MOSER (pole vault), Géraldine RUCKSTUHL (javelin throw), Benjamin GFÖHLER (long jump), Alex WILSON (200m), Mujinga KAMBUNDJI (100m), Lea SPRUNGER (400m h) and Selina BÜCHEL (800m) will no doubt be enjoying the legendary support of the Letzigrund Stadium fans.
Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir performance in London has left many fans dreaming of how fast he can run, but the 23-year-old says this week’s African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, will be a major test.
The Kenyan excelled at the London Diamond League a week ago clocking a time of 1:42:05 in the men’s 800m, which stands out as the fastest in the world since 2012 and puts him sixth on the world all-time list, a front-running exhibition reminiscent of David Rudisha’s world record, Olympic gold medal-winning run on the same track five years earlier.
“I accosted Nijel Amos to see if he could run at the front to maybe like 600 meters, but he was telling me that he wasn’t feeling good,” explains Korir.
Amos had run 1:42:14 in Monaco in early July. “So I had to take a risk. I was feeling like maybe I could lose the race, but I thought, ‘no, let’s try it: I’m going to hold it’. And that is how it happened.”
Now his focus is on the Africa championships, which starts on Wednesday in Asaba, Nigeria. “Heats, semis and finals, it will not be easy,” says Korir, pondering a rematch with Botswana’s Nijel Amos. “1:42 is not satisfying. If I get some guys who are strong and can push me all the way to the finish line, it will be crazy.” Korir won the Kenyan title at the 400m distance.
Korir built a reputation on the U.S. collegiate circuit, where he went on an unbeaten run that lasted a year and included a world indoor best of 1:14:47 over 600m, and indoor and outdoor NCAA titles. That streak didn’t stop away from U.S. shores.
First he won the Kenyan trials, beating the likes of 2016 IAAF Diamond League champion Ferguson Rotich, to confirm his spot at the World Championships. Then, on his IAAF Diamond League debut, he destroyed a world-class field by more than a second in Monaco sizzling to a 1:43.10, the fastest time of 2017.
But the rounds in London proved to be too difficult. Although he won his heat, in the next day’s semis he came in fourth.
His undefeated season and World Championships campaign were wrecked. Talking from massage table 11 months on from that ignominy, his feelings couldn’t be more different. “Last year, when I was in London, I was so disappointed. But right now? I think I like it,” Korir recalls.
Later this week, the IAAF Diamond League heads to London for the 11th meeting in the 2018 series. Here we look back at three of the more memorable moments from the British capital.
HARRISON BREAKS 28-YEAR-OLD 100M HURDLES WORLD RECORD, 2016
Kendra Harrison’s world 100m hurdles record of 12.20, beating the 1988 mark of 12.21 set by Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova, put even Usain Bolt’s 19.89 200m into the shade on the first of two days of competition in London’s Olympic stadium.
Two months after becoming the second fastest women’s high hurdler in history with 12.24 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, and two weeks after failing to qualify for the US Olympic team, the 24-year-old from Tennessee produced one of the great track performances in front of more than 40,000 fans.
“Only the record will make up for missing out on Rio,” Harrison had said at the previous day’s press conference.
Harrison, who had won her heat in 12.40, crossed the line five metres clear of a world-class field, but the time which flashed up was only 12.58. But shortly afterwards, the figures were corrected to a world record mark and the winner sank to her knees in tears.
Harrison had dipped so low at the line, she had run beneath the beam and the trackside clock initially recorded the uncorrected time of second-placed Brianna Rollins, later credited with 12.57.
“I wanted to come out here and show the world that I still have it, even though I won’t be going to the Olympics,” she said. “I had to give it all I had.
“Initially I saw 12.5 and I was just happy to come out here and win. I was so happy when it came up and I was feeling really blessed.”
OBIRI UPSTAGES MUIR’S RECORD ATTEMPT, 2017
There would hardly have been a more popular winner in the mile than Laura Muir, who had begun her year by winning European indoor titles at 1500m and 3000m.
The previous year Muir had beaten the British 1500m held by double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes, running 3:55.22 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris and concluding her season by winning the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich.
Now she was after the imperial version of that record, set 32 years earlier by Zola Budd at 4:17.57.
Hellen Obiri had other plans.
She tailed the Briton through the bell. As Muir hit the home straight, the noise levels in the Olympic stadium rose to the heights. But then Kenya’s Olympic 5000m silver medallist moved past her to break her own national record, setting a meeting record of 4:16.56.
Only Genzebe Dibaba had run faster than that time this millennium. Obiri moved above Mary Slaney on the world all-time list having eclipsed Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon as the fastest Kenyan ever.
Muir, ultimately, paid for her early ambition, finishing six tenths off Budd’s mark in 4:18.03. But it had been a proper, old fashioned race that will be long remembered.
With the top five athletes finishing within 4:20 and best marks-for-place being set from fourth to 14th, it was the deepest women’s mile race in history.
SILVA HEADS FOR GOLD WITH IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE RECORD, 2013
Cuba’s Yarisley Silva achieved her second consecutive IAAF Diamond League victory over Jenn Suhr and Fabiana Murer, beating the respective Olympic and world champions with an IAAF Diamond League record of 4.83m.
Suhr took second with 4.73m, although she had two goes at 4.88m, with Murer third at 4.63m, reversing their positions from the previous month’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham.
Early in the season, Silva had altered her technique in line with her rising ambitions, holding the pole higher and extending her run-up. She was aiming for gold at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. She went on to take bronze in the Russian capital, but a world indoor title in 2014 was a step towards her making the top of the podium at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.
Upcoming United States of America based Kenyan Michael Saruni will have a litmus test as he tests himself against the seasoned and experienced Botswana’s 800m runner, 2014 Commonwealth Games champion, Nijel Amos at the IAAF Diamond League leg in Monaco on Friday, July 20th.
Amos, the IAAF Diamond League champion and holder of the Prefontaine Classic 800m meeting record had been laid off by a calf injury he sustained at the recent Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Saruni a University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) second year student, made his mark in track and field history when he clocked the NCAA record time of 1:43.25 in 800m at the Desert Heat Classic in Tucson, Arizona, during National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on April 28th.
Coached by the 1988 Seoul Olympics 800m gold medalist Paul Ereng, time breaks the NCAA record previously held by North American U20 indoor record holder Donavan Brazier (Texas A&M) who ran 1:43.55 at the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Saruni’s time ranks as the fastest in the world this year and breaks the school record held by former teammate Emmanuel Korir (1:43.73). depleted the NCAA record previously held by held by former teammate and compatriot Emmanuel Korir (1:43.73) for his season best.
Amos finished second in his comeback race the Prefontaine Classic, which is a non-Diamond event, to gauge his body and strength ahead of the new athletics season after being beaten by Kenya’s US based Korir race after a disappointing Gold Coast’s Commonwealth Games showing.
The 2012 Olympic silver medallist from Botswana with a season best of 1:44.18, last year won his third IAAF Diamond League trophy – the most by anyone in this event.
Amos a resident in the United States with Eugene-based Oregon Track Club Elite said during his absence on the track, he did a lot of work during the winter programme.
Amos, under tutelage of American coach Mark Rowland , pointed out that he would not want to push himself too hard.
Having notched up two IAAF Diamond League victories already this year, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega will aim for a third at Athletissima in Lausanne on 5 July.
The world indoor 3000m silver medallist will contest the 5000m in Lausanne in what will be his final race before heading to Finland to defend his title over the same distance at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018.
Barega, still just 18 years of age, won the two-mile event in Eugene last month and then triumphed over 5000m in Stockholm with a world-leading 13:04.05. He followed it with a world-leading clocking of 7:37.53 in the 3000m in Ostrava.
In Lausanne he will be up against a field that includes world champion and last year’s Lausanne winner Muktar Edris, Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo, and Birhanu Balew, the Bahraini who won in Shanghai and finished a close second to Barega in Stockholm.
Ethiopia’s Abadi Hadis, Eritrea’s Aron Kifle and Switzerland’s Julien Wanders are also in the field.
World 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi returned to top form with an excellent victory in the Dream Mile at the Bislett Games on Thursday night (7), the fifth meeting of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League.
The Kenyan timed his effort to perfection, utilising his considerable range of gears from the front on the final lap to hold off Sadik Mikhou of Bahrain in 3:56.95, with Mikhou taking second in 3:57.10 and Ethiopia’s Taresa Tolosa third in 3:57.92.
Not a soul had left a packed Bislett Stadium as the final event of the night began in broad daylight shortly before 10pm, Norwegian hopes pinned on brothers Henrik and Filip Ingebrigtsen.
The first 800 metres was covered in a steady 1:57.93, but the pace slowed in a major way on the third lap, covered in 64.24 seconds, as athletes looked at each other and recharged for the final kick. And while world 1500m bronze medallist Filip Ingebrigtsen made a bold bid to mix it with Manangoi when the pace was ratcheted up in the back straight, in the end he had no response after recent injuries and had to settle for fourth in 3:57.97, with Henrik Ingebrigtsen coming home sixth in 3:58.46.
“It’s a special feeling to win the Dream Mile,” said Manangoi. “It was a tough race, although it looks easy. I wanted to attack in the last 100 metres and that’s what happened.”
Midway through the final lap of the men’s 3000m steeplechase at Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic, the third meeting of the IAAF Diamond League, a common thought rippled through the 12,000-strong crowd at Hayward Field: who?
As in, who exactly was that Kenyan out front, the guy charging into the final bend with a 15-metre lead over world and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto?
The race had been expected to boil down to a head-to-head clash between Kipruto and Evan Jager, the darling of the home crowd in Oregon and an athlete with Olympic and World Championships medals to his name.
But at that point, the script had been well and truly shredded by a 24-year-old Kenyan by the name of Benjamin Kigen, the man with the golden kick.
For Jager, Kigen was a recognisable face, one he’d raced and easily beaten in both Monaco and Brussels last year, a guy to be respected but certainly not feared.
“I’ve seen him on the circuit but I wasn’t expecting him to be the guy today, for sure,” admitted Jager. “I thought it was going to be Conseslus and me battling over the last lap.”
Kipruto himself was more wary, particularly given the slow pace and his knowledge of Kigen’s background.
“I know the guy,” said Kipruto, “and I know he can run the last lap very well because he was a 1500m guy.”
Kigen’s last lap – which he ran over five barriers – was covered in 57.9 seconds.
Truth be told, though, Kigen didn’t have as much confidence in himself as others had in him. “I was not expecting it,” he said. “This was my first time beating them.”
Just 13 months ago, Kigen was still a 1500m runner, but all that changed at a low-key meeting in Thika, Kenya, last April when his manager Juan Pineda watched him sprint to victory in 3:42.9. He could be a good 1500m runner, he thought, but didn’t seem to possess the natural power and pace to truly match the world’s best, so they soon plotted a move to the steeplechase.
A native of Baringo County in the Rift Valley, Kigen does not come from an area renowned for producing world-beating distance runners, at least not in the same frequency as places to the west like Eldoret and Iten.
He is a member of the Kenyan Defence Forces and trains in Ngong, a town outside Nairobi that sits at an altitude of 2000m (6,500ft). There, he works under the guidance of coach Isaac Rono alongside Amos Kirui, the world U20 steeplechase champion who has a best of 8:08.37.
Kigen’s transition to the steeplechase was promising, though not paved with success from the outset. He finished second at the Kenyan Defence Forces Championships in his first try at the event in 8:26.6, which secured him a place at the Kenyan World Championship trials last June. But there Kigen miscounted the laps and with 400m to run, he had yet to make any move believing he still had two laps to run. By the time the bell shook him to life, it was too late and he wound up fourth in 8:20.54.
But his ability became obvious just four days later in Ostrava, Kigen taking victory at the Golden Spike in a huge PB of 8:11.54 before lowering his 1500m PB to 3:36.36 in Madrid. He then finished fourth in Monaco and sixth at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels.
He started 2018 with an indoor 3000m PB of 7:44.77 in Ostrava, though last Saturday’s race in Eugene was his first attempt at the steeplechase this year – and what an attempt it was.
ELECTRIC FINISH IN EUGENE
As Kigen soared over the final water jump at full speed – without placing a foot on the barrier – gasps rippled through the crowd at Hayward Field. Though he landed awkwardly at the last, he nonetheless had built an unassailable advantage over Jager and Kipruto, who were left to fight for a distant second, which Kipruto edged in 8:11.71. Kigen had a good 20 metres to spare when he crossed the line in 8:09.07.
“I dreamt of this and I’m very proud of this day,” said Kigen. “This year I have a new training technique so I will do better.”
How much better? His time goal this year is to go below eight minutes, which Kigen may well threaten at the upcoming IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome. Rabat, Budapest and Monaco are also in his plans, and somewhere along the way he will undoubtedly renew his rivalry with Kipruto and Jager.
Far from being upset at his breakout performance, Jager welcomed Kigen’s arrival to the big leagues last Saturday.
“It’s nice to have another face in contention for the win; it would have got boring if it was the same three guys every year,” he said. “Hopefully this puts pressure on everyone else to go after him now and takes the pressure off us. It’s fun there’s another guy to go after.”
And like a true pro, Kigen remains far more concerned with championship performances than fast times. “My main goal is to represent Kenya at the African Championships and race in international races like the Continental Cup,” he said.
And now that he’s a familiar face, Kigen’s rivals will have a new-found respect for his ferocious finish.
Caster Semenya produced another peerless display of middle-distance running to set a meeting record and world lead of 1:55.92 in the women’s 800m at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Saturday (26), the highlight of the midde-distance action at the third meeting of the IAAF Diamond League.
The South African seized command of the race with 300m to run after covering her first lap in 57.9, well behind the pacemaker who went through in 57.25.
American Ajee Wilson finished second in the race in 1:56.86.
Baker, the world indoor bronze medallist, pulled ahead of 60 metres world-record holder and compatriot Coleman in the final 20 metres to win with an assisting wind of 2.4 metres per second.
Coleman finished second in 9.84 seconds with Britain’s Reece Prescod third in 9.88 seconds.
Semenya’s time was the fastest 800m ever run by a woman on US soil, and the 27-year-old was suitably delighted with the run. “It was an amazing race,” she said. “I saw the split was 57 so I tried to maintain 57 again.”
Olympic 10,000 silver medalist Paul Tanui faces a stern test in the two mile race at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on May 26.
Tanui, who is also the world 10,000m bronze medallist faces a quality field in the event including compatriot Ronald Kwemoi, world 5000m champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia. Kwemoi won the Bowerman Mile last year while Edris ended Mo Farah’s reign last summer at the World Championships.
The Ethiopian beat Farah, always a fast finisher, at his own game with a ferocious 52.4 last lap. For Edris, the gold was his first track major medal of any color – his only other medal being the bronze he earned at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in China.
Meanwhile, his Ethiopian teammate, Yomif Kejelcha, raced to a second successive world indoor 3000m title in Birmingham last month. Kejelcha, 20, has twice raced to unprecedented feats at Hayward Field. In 2014, he became the youngest ever 5000m winner at the World Junior Championships, in Eugene. In 2015 he made his biggest splash, winning the Pre-Classic and becoming the youngest 5000m winner by four years. A fantastic season saw him winning the Diamond League as well with a 12:53.98 PB. He’s also the fastest in the field at 3000m with 7:28.19, the current world U20 record.
The youth fountain from Ethiopia continues with 18-year-old Selemon Barega, who became the youngest indoor 3000m medallist with his silver medal finish behind Kejelcha in Birmingham. He won the world U20 5000m title in 2016.
The field also includes Paul Chelimo, the only racer in the field with medals from Rio and last summer’s World Championships. Both –Rio silver and London bronze — came with thrilling finishes and are among the best ever by a US athlete.
Newly-crowned double Commonwealth Games champion Joshua Cheptegei is also in the mix. He was second over 10,000m at last year’s World Championships and the world junior champion over the distance in 2014. Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed is also in the field, the double silver Commonwealth medallist after finishing runner-up behind Cheptegei in both track races in Gold Coast.
Others in the field include Bahrain’s Albert Rop, who has a 12:51.96 5000m lifetime best, Ryan Hill, the 2016 world indoor 3000m silver medallist, who has a 7:30.93 personal best over that distance, Eric Jenkins, 26, who won indoor NCAA titles for Oregon over 3000m and 5000m, Hassan Mead, the US 10,000m champion, Shadrack Kipchirchir, the US road 5km champion; and Australian Patrick Tiernan, the 2016 NCAA cross country champion.
The 2-mile distance comes in a year with no major international championship 5000m races outside of the annual IAAF Diamond League, which incorporates the two mile and 3000m into its point standings for the 5000m. The-Pre Classic two mile record of 8:03.50, set in 2007 by Australian Craig Mottram, remains the fastest run on US soil.