British distance running great bids victorious farewell as CJ Ujah and Ruth Jebet also storm to Diamond League success
Mo Farah’s final ever track race is sure to live long in the memory as a dramatic finish to the 5000m saw him sign off with a win at the Weltklasse Zürich IAAF Diamond League meeting on Thursday.
Britain’s 10-time global gold medallist had faced no easy task for his farewell as he lined up alongside the man who beat him over the distance at the IAAF World Championships – Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris – plus the next top four from that world final in London.
This time Farah’s kick prevailed, but it was close between the world championships top quartet. A thrilling sprint finish saw Farah ahead off the final bend but Edris, world bronze medallist Paul Chelimo and Ethiopia’s fourth-placer Yomif Kejelcha refused to give in. Storming down the home straight, Farah just held off the challenge and dipped for victory in 13:06.05 as Chelimo crossed second in 13:06.09, the same time as Edris who lost balance on approach to the line. Kejelcha finished fourth in 13:06.18.
“I wanted to win and it is amazing that I have won, but it was hard work,” said Farah, who won the world 10,000m title in London but missed out on a fifth consecutive global distance double.
“I will miss the track, the people, my fans,” added the 34-year-old, who now turns his attention to road running.
Pacemaker Collins Cheboi had taken the field through the first kilometre in 2:35.30, while 2000m was passed in 5:13.13. Cornelius Kangogo took over through 3000m in 7:51.27 before Farah was to the fore through 4000m in 10:37.87 before sitting on the shoulder of Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed.
Farah surged with 600m to go and was ahead at the bell with Kejelcha just behind him.
While Edris had been third to cross the finish line, he was later confirmed as the runner-up, with Chelimo disqualified for causing an obstruction.
It was Farah’s first Diamond League race in Zurich since he finished fifth in the 5000m in 2010 and the Briton clocked 12:57.94 for his first sub-13 minute run behind winner Tariku Bekele that day. He would go on to clock his British record of 12:53.11 in Monaco the following year.
Ujah secures sprint success, while Jebet comes close to world record
Despite all his global success, the win was Farah’s first overall Diamond League series victory and he was one of 16 athletes to receive a Diamond Trophy plus a $50,000 winner’s prize in Zurich.
Another was his fellow Briton CJ Ujah who followed up his world championships win as part of the GB 4x100m relay team and victories in Rabat, Rome, the London Anniversary Games and Birmingham with further success. Running the fourth legal sub-10 second time of his career, the 23-year-old clocked 9.97 to beat Ben Youssef Meite with the same time. World champion Justin Gatlin was fourth in 10.04 and Adam Gemili eighth in 10.13.
“It is an amazing feeling but I knew what I was capable of,” said Ujah. “It was a tough race tonight but I was pretty aggressive to the end and it was a good race so I am happy.
“This is like a personal revenge for the world championships for me, I was pretty upset not to be in the final. So today, I redeemed myself.”
Another athlete bouncing back after the world championships was world 3000m steeplechase record-holder Ruth Jebet. Fifth in London, she was first in Zurich but it was the manner and time of her victory which was most impressive. Her 8:55.29 is the second quickest time in history behind her own world record set in Paris last year and she led Beatrice Chepkoech to also go sub-nine minutes with 8:59.84 as only the fourth ever athlete to break that barrier. World champion Emma Coburn was fourth in 9:14.81.
Pearson and Miller-Uibo impress
An athlete to enjoy success at both the world championships and the Diamond League final was Sally Pearson. The 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion admitted earlier this year that she had considered quitting the sport following her injury struggles but she capped her comeback with another superb performance, clocking 12.55 for the win ahead of USA’s Sharika Nelvis with the same time.
The men’s 400m hurdles was won by Kyron McMaster, who was disqualified at the world championships, in 48.07 from world gold medallist Karsten Warholm with a 48.22 Norwegian record. GB’s Jack Green was sixth in 49.41.
Over in the 200m, a superb run by Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo saw her storm to victory in a Bahamian record 21.88. Attacking at the start, easing on the bend and then powering past to move from fourth to first, she pipped double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson with 22.00 and double world silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou with 22.09 as world champion Dafne Schippers finished fourth in 22.36.
“I am really happy. I tried really hard and went for a fast race,” said Miller-Uibo, who bounced back after her fourth place in the 400m final to claim world 200m bronze in London. “I definitely prefer the 400m. I am ready for the 400m final next week.”
The men’s 400m was won by Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who had been in the spotlight at the world championships after missing the 400m final through illness and then taking an unconventional route, including a 200m time trial, to make the 200m final. He clocked 43.95 in Zurich before doing press ups at the finish as world silver medallist Steven Gardiner slipped out of his blocks and fell at the start.
Another athlete winning both the Diamond League title and world gold was Caster Semenya as she ran 1:55.84 for 800m victory ahead of Francine Niyonsaba with 1:56.71.
Thompson anchors Jamaica to relay win
In the women’s 4x100m, Britain’s world and Olympic medal-winning quartet of Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita went quicker than they had run to secure silver in London, clocking 41.86. This time Jamaica had Thompson on anchor, however, and her strong last leg saw her secure a narrow victory for her team as she crossed the finish line with 41.85 on the clock.
The men’s 1500m saw Timothy Cheruiyot go one better than his runner-up finish at the world championships, as he clocked 3:33.93 to lead a Kenya top six ahead of Silas Kiplagat with 3:34.26 and world champion Elijah Manangoi with 3:34.65. Just behind was Britain’s Jake Wightman, winner in Oslo and Birmingham, clocking 3:35.25 for seventh.
Rypakova takes triple jump trophy
Kazakhstan’s London 2012 Olympic champion Olga Rypakova had earlier become the first Diamond Trophy winner for 2017 after she leapt 14.55m to win a close triple jump contest ahead of world champion Yulimar Rojas (14.52m) and Rio gold medallist Caterine Ibargüen (14.48m).
Adding the Diamond Trophy to his world gold, Luvo Manyonga leapt 8.49m to win the long jump ahead of fellow South African Ruswahl Samaai with 8.31 m.
After his world-leading performance in Birmingham, world high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim continued his winning ways by clearing 2.36m ahead of world bronze medallist Majd Eddin Ghazal with 2.31m. Britain’s Robbie Grabarz finished fourth with 2.24m, while European under-20 bronze medallist Tom Gale, who has cleared 2.30m this season, placed eighth with a best of 2.20m.
Lavillenie loses Diamond League crown
World record-holder Renaud Lavillenie had won every pole vault Diamond Trophy in the history of the Diamond League but the competition ended in disappointment for the Frenchman as he had an early exit after failing to clear his opening height of 5.63m. USA’s world champion Sam Kendricks was again on top as he cleared 5.87m for victory.
The shot put Diamond Trophy was claimed by China’s world champion Lijiao Gong with her throw of 19.60m from the fifth round, while Barbora Spotakova secured the javelin Diamond Trophy with her final round throw of 65.54m to beat Australia’s world 10th-placer Kelsey-Lee Roberts with 64.53m.
The men’s javelin competition was won by world silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch with 88.50m from Olympic champion Thomas Röhler’s 86.59m as world championships winner Johannes Vetter was fourth with 86.15m.
The two non-Diamond League 100m races were won by Britain’s Bianca Williams in a season’s best of 11.30 (+1.0) and Jamaica’s Christania Williams in 11.07 (-0.7), with Philip fifth in 11.37.
Another non-Diamond League race was the women’s 400m hurdles and that was won by two-time world gold medallist Zuzana Hejnová in a European-leading 54.13 as Eilidh Doyle started strongly and finished fifth in 55.09.
Paralympic champion Marcel Hug won the mixed 3000m wheelchair race in 5:59.97 from fellow Swiss athlete Manuela Schär, with Britain’s Richard Chiassaro 10th in 6:46.73.
Weltklasse Zürich action had begun the evening before as the women’s pole vault competition was held in the city’s train station. There, world and Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi maintained her winning record this season after finishing first on countback ahead of world and Olympic silver medallist Sandi Morris.
Both athletes cleared 4.87m, with Stefanidi winning thanks to her first-time clearances at all heights except 4.82m, which she failed on her first try before passing to 4.87m, which she also cleared first time to become an equal meeting record-holder with Morris. Britain’s Holly Bradshaw, who had set the previous meeting record, placed equal fourth with 4.62m.
» Full results can be found here, while the August 31 edition of AW magazine will include a report, pictures and results from Zurich