Rudisha threatens his own world record, Sally Pearson runs a world-leading 12.40, eleven men break 13 minutes in the 5000m and Dai Greene comes close to the UK 400m hurdles record
David Rudisha is arguably the most dominant athlete in the world right now, and confirmed as much tonight at the Meeting Areva in Paris – the seventh leg of the Samsung Diamond League as the sport’s series of premier meetings reaches its half-way stage.
The Kenyan middle-distance star was out to break his own 800m world record in the French capital. Although he missed out by just a few tenths of a second, his time of 1:41.54 was a world-leading mark and brings his tally of sub-1:42 performances to six – easily more than any other athlete in history.
Rudisha was led through the first lap by his trusty pacemaker, Sammy Tangui, in 49.37 and Rudisha passed through 600m in 1:14.79. He had already built up a staggering margin over the rest of the field and he maintained it down the home straight. He crossed the line more than four seconds ahead of second-placer Antonio Reina (1:45.62).
As good as Rudisha’s performance was in the 800m, in terms of depth it was nowhere near the best event of the night. Instead that was the men’s 5000m, which saw eleven men break 13 minutes in the highest-quality race of all-time.
The race had been billed as a trial race for Ethiopian athletes and as such it attracted some of the best athletes from that country, including Kenenisa Bekele, his brother Tariku, and world bronze medallist Dejen Gebremeskel.
The field were led through 3000m in 7:43.53 and it was clear that a fast time was on the cards. By the time of the last lap, a group of six athletes had broke free although Bekele was not one of them. Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet battled with Isiah Koech at the front of the pack before Gebremeskel kicked ahead to win in a world-leading 12:46.81, making him the third-fastest Ethiopian in history behind Bekele and Haile Gebrselassie.
Gebrhiwet, one of the big finds of the season, smashed the world junior record with 12:47.53 in second place. Koech also dipped well inside the previous world junior record with 12:48.64 in third. Although Bekele ran 12:55.79, his fastest time for three years, he finished down in ninth and was only the fifth-fastest Ethiopian.
For the first time in history, six men dipped under 12:50. The race set best marks-for-place from third down to thirteenth place!
World champion Sally Pearson already led the 2012 world lists with a pair of 12.49 clockings in the 100m hurdles, but with just four weeks to go until the start of the athletics at the London Olympics, the Australian is really starting to pick up pace. In Paris tonight she stopped the clock in 12.40 – her fastest ever clocking outside of the two PBs she set at last year’s World Championships.
Ginnie Crawford, who missed out by one place on making the US Olympic team, made amends here with a 12.59 season’s best in second, while UK record-holder Tiffany Porter finished third with 12.74.
American record-holder Tyson Gay made a superb return to form at the US Trials but was beaten there by Justin Gatlin. In Paris, though, Gay exacted his revenge in the 100m.
World indoor champion Gatlin appeared to be on his way to victory, but Gay maintained his form and snatched the win with a well-timed dip, stopping the clock in 9.99 seconds. Gatlin ran 10.03 in second, while European champion Christophe Lemaitre finished third in 10.08.
Following knee surgery over the winter, Dai Greene has taken a while to hit his top form this season, but he finally found it tonight in Paris. World leader Javier Culson got off to his typically fast start and Greene was a few metres down as he came into the home straight. But over the final 100 metres Greene looked as strong as he did when winning the world title last year, kicking hard to chase down the two-time world silver medallist.
Culson held on for victory but only just, running a world-leading 47.78. Greene was just a fraction behind, setting a lifetime best of 47.84 – just 0.02 outside the UK record set by Kriss Akabusi 20 years ago. Having only twice dipped under 49 seconds this year, Greene was beginning to look something of a doubt for the London 2012 Games, but his clocking in Paris – putting him at No.2 on this year’s world rankings – puts him right back in the frame for Olympic success.
The women’s 1500m made for uncomfortable viewing. World indoor silver medallist Mariem Alaoui Selsouli and newly-crowned European champion Asli Cakir – both women having served drugs bans in the past – broke clear of the rest of the field and duked it out over the final two laps.
Selsouli edged ahead of Cakir in the home straight to win with a world-leading 3:56.15 to smash the Moroccan record by more than three seconds. Cakir, whose best before today was 4:02.17, finished second with a huge PB of 3:56.62. Three other women dipped under four minutes – Abeba Aregawi (3:58.59), Viola Kibiwott (3:59.25) and Ibtissam Lakhouad (3:59.65). Britain’s Lisa Dobriskey ran her fastest time in two years with a UK-leading 4:02.13 in eighth place.
Having once again missed out on making the national Olympic team after struggling in the altitude of the Kenyan Trials, Paul Kipsiele Koech underlined his status as the world’s top steeplechaser. Although the pace slipped slightly in the second kilometre, Kipsiele Koech pulled it back over the final few laps to set a meeting record of 8:00.57, finishing more than a second ahead of Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto (8:01.73).
Christine Ohuruogu was once again beaten in the 400m, but the Olympic champion won’t be unduly worried. Her 50.59 is the fastest she has ever run at this stage of the season. Tonight in Paris, though, it was only good enough for fourth place behind world champion Amantle Montsho (49.77), Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills (49.95) and USA’s Francena McCorory (50.27).
World silver medallist Habiba Ghribi made a rare outing on to the international circuit to win the women’s steeplechase. The Tunisian came through in the final few metres to overtake Kenya’s Lydia Chepkurui, winning in a meeting record of 9:28.81.
Elsewhere, Murielle Ahoure notched up another international victory, taking the women’s 200m in 22.55. One week after winning the US Trials, Chaunte Lowe showed no signs of jet lag as she won the high jump with 1.97m and ending her series with three solid attempts at 2.03m. Oleksandr Pyatnytsa of Ukraine finished just fifth in the javelin at last week’s European Championships, but here he gained revenge on the winner from Helsinki. Pyatnytsa won with a throw of 85.67m to defeat Viteszlav Vesely (83.93m).
European champion Renaud Lavillenie extended his winning streak in the pole vault to 10 meetings, winning in front of a home crowd with 5.77m as Britain’s Steve Lewis was equal fourth with 5.52m. Yelena Sokolova beat British record-holder Shara Proctor in the long jump, 6.70m to 6.65m.
A downpour of rain affected the field events held earlier in the evening. Newly-crowned European champion Sandra Perkovic was beaten by former world champion Dani Samuels in the discus, 61.81m to 61.46m. Olympic bronze medallist Leevan Sands was the only athlete over 17 metres in the triple jump, winning with 17.23m. Canada’s Dylan Armstrong won the shot with his first-round throw of 20.54m.