Mo Farah emerged from the Diamond League in Monaco as a bona fide supermiler as the Briton and Asbel Kiprop went to No.6 and No.4 on the world all-time 1500m lists
Mo Farah smashed the European 1500m record with 3:28.81 as he finished hot on the heels of Asbel Kiprop’s 3:27.72 in a memorable metric mile in Monaco.
The Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion also broke Steve Cram’s 28-year-old British record of 3:29.67 behind Kiprop, as the Kenyan went to No.4 on the world all-time rankings.
Only Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, the world record-holder with 3:26.00, plus American Bernard Lagat and Algerian Noureddine Morceli have run faster than Kiprop.
For Farah, his performance shattered the 16-year-old area record held by Fermin Cacho of Spain with 3:28.95.
It was an amazing turn of speed for a 5000/10,000m specialist who is ironically building towards his marathon debut in London next year.
Farah’s achievement also nicely falls the day before the British Milers’ Club 50th anniversary celebrations in Oxford. The organisation was originally set up to improve standards of middle-distance running in Britain, so its members will surely raise their glasses to toast the Briton’s great metric mile race in Monaco when they meet on Saturday at Oxford’s Iffley Road – the scene of the historic first sub-four-minute mile.
Speaking to the BBC, Farah said: “Training’s going pretty well and the aim was to come out here and work on my speed.”
Never one to rest on his laurels, he added with a tiny tinge of frustration in his voice: “It would have been nice to get closer to Asbel but he’s a great athlete, he’s got another gear and he kept stretching away.”
Commentating on BBC, Cram said he was “shocked” at Farah’s performance. The duo had joked about the UK record before the race, but no one was sure just how fast the Alberto Salazar-coached athlete could go.
Of course, in addition to Cram, Farah has now run faster over 1500m than Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, Peter Elliott and other British supermilers. The British record for one mile – held by Cram with 3:46.32 – is surely within his grasp, but there are not many opportunities this season unless he chooses to race the Emsley Carr Mile at the Olympic Stadium next weekend instead of the 3000m.
Farah of course used to race 1500m and the mile a lot as a youngster and his first competitive appearance in the annual London Grand Prix was winning a junior mile race at Crystal Palace. But in recent years he has not run shorter than 3000m very often, so he said of the three-and-three-quarter lap effort in Monte Carlo: “It was a shock to the system. I’m not used to that kind of speed. It’s a different feeling – weird!”
Ominously, ahead of the IAAF World Championships in Moscow next month, where he will run the 5000m and 10,000m, he said of his training: “I’m a lot further ahead now than I was last year.”
Farah ran a well-judged race and was in seventh place a couple of seconds adrift of the pacemaker who went through 400m in 52.95. Kiprop was in third at that stage but Farah moved up to fourth as the pacemaker passed 800m in 1:50.40 after a 57.45 second lap.
On the third lap the pace did not let up. Now on his own, Kiprop passed through the bell in 2:32 with Farah fighting for second place. The tall Kenyan ran his third lap in 55.51 as he passed 1200m in a scintillating 2:45.91, with Farah scrapping to stay in contention several metres behind.
Around the final bend, Kiprop looked majestic with his huge stride bounding towards the finish. In contrast, the shorter Farah was battling his way into second place and finished strongly to secure second ahead of Caleb Ndiku, the Kenyan also breaking 3:30 with 3:29.50, as a flurry of sub-3:35 clockings and PBs followed.
Elsewhere, Renaud Lavillenie delighted the crowd who stayed put to see out his victory in the pole vault. With the win secured thanks to his 5.86m clearance, he went on to clear 5.96m for a Diamond League record as well as the world lead. USA’s Brad Walker cleared 5.78m and Germany’s Björn Otto 5.70m for second and third respectively, as Britain’s Steve Lewis cleared a season’s best 5.70m and placed sixth.
Jehue Gordon won the men’s 400m hurdles against a strong field in an impressive 48.00. Duane Solomon hung on to win the men’s 800m with a swift 1:43.72. Amantle Montsho of Botswana ran a Diamond League record of 49.33 in the women’s 400m as she destroyed the field. Stephanie McPherson of Jamaica and Francena McCorory also broke the 50-second barrier as Anyika Onuora, the UK 200m champion from last weekend, ran 51.63 in sixth.
In the long jump, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria won with 7.04m (2.1), from Darya Klishina of Russia (6.98m) and Shara Proctor of Britain (6.74m).
In the 100m hurdles, Olympic champion Sally Pearson of Australia was again beaten as she ran 12.75 for fifth in a race won by Queen Harrison of the United States with 12.64. Britain’s Tiffany Porter was fourth with 12.70.
Brigetta Barrett, the American champion, won the women’s high jump with 2.01m. Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast ran a swift 22.24 to narrowly win the women’s 200m from American Tiffany Townsend and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
The men’s 100m, meanwhile, was won by Justin Gatlin with 9.94 (-0.4) as the American edged out Dentarius Locke of the US (9.96) and Jimmy Vicaut of France (9.99).
» A full report and photographs will appear in the July 25 issue of Athletics Weekly