Superb night of athletics at the Samsung Diamond League in Monaco
Six world leads, four meeting records, two UK records and one very near world record – and those are just the events in which Usain Bolt had no involvement!
Indeed, the Jamaican superstar was well and truly overshadowed tonight at the Samsung Diamond League in Monaco – not only by the myriad record-breaking performances, but even by a good old fashioned punch-up after the men’s 1500m.
Despite winning the 100m with a season’s best of 9.88, Bolt was pushed all the way by team-mate Nesta Carter (9.90) in a close finish that would have ordinarily been the climax of any Diamond League meeting. But on a night of so many outstanding performances and records, Bolt was made to look human.
The scheduling of the men’s 3000m steeplechase right at the end of the programme initially seemed a strange choice, but in hindsight it was a work of genius – as was the running of winner Brimin Kipruto. The Olympic champion showed that his victory at the hotly-contested Kenyan Trials race just six days prior was no fluke.
He not only smashed through the eight-minute barrier for the first time, but he almost broke the world record. His time of 7:53.64 was just 0.01 shy of the world record set by Saif Saaeed Shaheen set seven years ago. Despite missing the world record by the narrowest of margins, former world champion Kipruto could take some comfort in setting a Kenyan record – which is no mean feat in steeplechase terms.
Kipruto was joined under eight minutes by team-mates Ezekiel Kemboi (7:55.76) and Paul Kipsiele Koech (7:57.32). Kemboi now moves to fifth on the world all-time list, while Koech’s performance might just be enough to persuade the Kenyan federation to select him for the World Championships after struggling to compete in the altitude of the Kenyan Trials.
Mo Farah notched up another high-profile victory over a quality field in the 5000m to once again underline himself as not only a medal favourite but a gold medal favourite for the World Championships in Daegu.
The race was not quite as fast as the sub-12:50 pace as had been planned, with the pace dropping in the third and fourth kilometres leading to lots of bumping and barging as US duo Galen Rupp and Chris Solinsky were forced out of the race. But Farah managed to stay out of trouble and once again adopted his tactics of holding back until the final kilometre then winding up the pace.
In what was arguably his toughest test of the year, Farah hit the lead at the bell and kicked for home with a 54-second last lap, holding off a strong challenge from former world champion Bernard Lagat. Farah opened up daylight in the homestretch to win in 12:53.11 – a UK record, world-leading mark and a meeting record.
Lagat held on for second to set an American record of 12:53.60, finishing ahead of Kenyan junior Isaiah Koech (12:54.18) and Ethiopia’s Imane Merga (12:55.47) in a race where seven men dipped under 13 minutes.
The race from this evening that will perhaps be talked about most – for all the wrong reasons – is the men’s 1500m. For the second year running, Silas Kiplagat ran away with the win with a world-leading 3:30.47, finishing more than a second ahead of Nixon Chepseba (3:31.74) and 800m specialist Abubaker Kaki who made a superb breakthrough over the longer distance with a Sudanese record 3:31.76. New Zealand’s Nick Willis also set a national record (3:31.79) in fourth.
But the real fireworks came after the race. French duo Mehdi Baala and Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad squared up to each other with what looked to be a stern exchange of words, when Baala lashed out by headbutting the steeplechase specialist followed quickly by a blow to his face. Mekhissi-Benabbad responded with a few attempts at landing a punch but it was quickly broken up by an official. The video has already made its way on to YouTube.
Less than 10 minutes after Farah broke the UK 5000m record, Tiffany Porter followed suit in the women’s 100m hurdles. The race was won by the in-form Sally Pearson of Australia in 12.51 with US champion Kellie Wells finishing second in 12.58. Porter – who, just like in the indoor season, appears to be timing her summer peak well – ran a lifetime best of 12.60 in third to improve on the 12.77 she clocked in May and move into the top 30 Europeans of all-time.
World record-holder David Rudisha was on top form and ran a world-leading 1:42.61 to hold off a strong challenge from Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop (1:43.15). USA’s Nick Symmonds finished third (1:43.83), while David Mutua became just the third junior athlete in history to dip under 1:44 with 1:43.99 in fourth.
Following the season-ending injury sustained by Teddy Tamgho, Britain’s Phillips Idowu took a comfortable win in the triple jump with 17.36m, finishing ahead of Cuban duo Alex Copello (17.30m) and David Giralt (17.29m). Ukraine’s Sheryf El-Sheryf was more than a metre short of the mark he set when winning the European under-23 title last week, finishing eighth with 16.67m.
But the best field event was the women’s javelin, where world record-holder Barbora Spotakova unleashed a world-leading throw of 69.45m to break the meeting record and finish almost five metres ahead of Diamond League leader Christina Obergfoell. Britain’s Goldie Sayers was once again over 60 metres with 60.97m in fourth.
The meeting record was also broken in the men’s shot, first by Christian Cantwell in round one with 21.23m, then by Reese Hoffa, whose round-four throw of 21.25m was good enough to win.
Dai Greene was unable to record another Diamond League victory in the 400m hurdles, but the European champion took heart from his third-place finish in 48.43, having suffered with an illness all week. Olympic champion Angelo Taylor won in 47.97 from fellow American Bershawn Jackson (48.22), while world leading LJ van Zyl was fourth (48.72).
Carmelita Jeter was on PB form in the women’s 200m to defeat three-time world champion Allyson Felix, 22.20 to 22.32. In the longer sprint, Amantle Montsho extended her lead at the top of the Diamond League rankings with a Botswanan record of 49.71, the second-fastest time in the world this year.
After a few below-par outings, world champion Maryam Jamal regained her form in the women’s 1500m to win in 4:00.59, half a second ahead of Morocco’s Ibtissam Lakhouad. Morgan Uceny’s run of victories came to an end, but the American still ran a PB of 4:01.51 in third. Britain’s world silver medallist Lisa Dobriskey also showed her best form of the year, clocking a season’s best of 4:04.76 in eighth.
The other world-leading mark of the night came in the men’s pole vault. The event marked the competitive return of world and Olympic champion Steve Hooker, but after clearing his opening height of 5.45m with a huge margin, the Australian went no higher. It left European champion Renaud Lavillenie free to dominate the competition with a 5.90m victory.
Elsewhere, Blanka Vlasic won the high jump with 1.97m, Brittney Reese took a narrow victory over Darya Klishina in the long jump, 6.82m to 6.79m, and Nadine Muller won the discus (65.90m).