Ethiopian goes to third on world 5000m all-time list after a storming run at the Shanghai Diamond League, while Mutaz Essa Barshim, Kirani James and Gong Lijiao also enjoy success in China
Speaking to the IAAF towards the end of last year, Almaz Ayana commented how the 5000m world record was in her sights and the world bronze medallist proved that to be an achievable aim in Shanghai on Sunday as she dominated the Diamond League event to clock 14:14.33. That time, which puts her third on the world all-time list, is just three seconds off Tirunesh Dibaba’s 14:11.15 which was run in 2008 and came after Ayana solo-ran her way to victory.
“I am so happy with my win,” she said. “I started with a pace for 14:20 but during the race I went faster and faster. I was surprised that my body could do that. I will never forget this competition.”
The 23-year-old had hit the front at around half way and covered the last three kilometres in 8:25.58. With around a 30 metre advantage at the bell, she strode on to eventually cross the finish line 26 seconds clear for a time that only Dibaba and their fellow Ethiopian Meseret Defar – who claimed world 5000m gold in 2013 ahead of Ayana – have bettered. Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot claimed the runner-up spot in 14:40.32.
The men’s 110m hurdles was the final event of the programme and saw China’s Xie Wenjun in action as Liu Xiang – the 2004 Olympic and 2007 world champion – watched from the stands having recently announced his retirement. Xie had to settle for sixth place this time, as USA’s world champion David Oliver bounced back from the fall he had at last weekend’s Athletics Weekly Great CityGames Manchester to dip for victory in 13.17 ahead of CityGames winner Orlando Ortega with 13.19. Earlier on and Kaliese Spencer had picked up from where she left off in the women’s 400m hurdles, the 2014 world No.1 clocking 54.71 to beat Tiffany Williams with 55.27.
Another of the meeting’s highlights was the high jump and Mutaz Essa Barshim won a head-to-head battle over the bar with Bohdan Bondarenko as the duo renewed their rivalry.
With China’s Zhang Guowei failing all three attempts at 2.35m, it was down to just Barshim and Bondarenko. World indoor champion and overall 2014 Diamond Race winner Barshim had cleared 2.35m to break the meeting record on his first attempt while world and European champion Bondarenko, who had been a late addition to the field, chose to move straight on and attempt 2.38m. However, the Ukrainian failed that height twice, while Qatari jumper Barshim cleared it on his first go. Bondarenko used his final attempt to try 2.41m but it wasn’t to be and victory went to Barshim, who then decided to call it a day with his meeting record and world-leading mark.
China’s Gong Lijiao proved she meant business on home soil as the Olympic and world shot put bronze medallist opened with a world-leading 19.82m before improving to 20.23m in the second round. Gong has only once thrown further than that, with her 20.35m PB from 2009. Germany’s European champion Christina Schwanitz threw a best of 19.94m in second.
Li Huihui was another to enjoy victory in the field and after breaking the javelin meeting record with 63.27m in the first round, she went on to better that mark to 64.08m for the win ahead of South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen and Australia’s Kimberley Mickle, who both threw exactly the same mark with 63.60m.
Kirani James was a dominant force in the men’s 400m. Clocking 44.66 he continued his winning record in 2015 and was the only athlete to run under 45 seconds. Unsurprisingly, the race had been billed as a head-to-head between Grenada’s Olympic and Commonwealth champ James and USA’s world champ LaShawn Merritt but Merritt had been left behind with the rest of the field at the final bend as James powered away and it was USA’s world silver medallist Tony McQuay who came through for second with 45.54 ahead of Merritt with 45.58.
There was another clear win in the men’s 3000m steeplechase as last year’s Diamond Race winner Jairus Birech picked up from where he left off in the IAAF series and clocked a world-leading 8:05.36 to win by more than six seconds ahead of Paul Kipsiele Koech with 8:11.39. Kenyan athletes filled the top eight spots, with world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto third with 8:14.59. World and Commonwealth 800m champion Eunice Sum clocked 2:00.28 to secure victory over two laps ahead of Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui with 2:00.73. Britain’s Jenny Meadows finished fifth with 2:01.37 in her 800m season opener.
There was a dominant run by Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor to beat a top 100m field. Nigeria’s double Commonwealth champion ran a strong final 40m to pull away from her rivals and clock a season’s best of 10.98 to beat USA’s Tori Bowie with 11.07 and Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye with 11.13. Jamaican duo Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were fourth and fifth with respective times of 11.22 and 11.25. Last year’s 200m Diamond Race winner Alonso Edward dipped to claim victory on the line in the half lap event ahead of Julian Forte – 20.33 to 20.36. Nickel Ashmeade finished third with 20.44.
The men’s 1500m was slower than had been expected and came down to a sprint finish. It was Silas Kiplagat who was strongest in the end, Kenya’s 2011 world silver medallist claiming victory in a 3:35.29 world lead ahead of Hillary Cheruiyot Ngetich with 3:35.40. Collins Cheboi completed a Kenyan top three with a time of 3:35.46 as USA’s Ben Blankenship clocked 3:35,48 for fourth.
There was a Polish one-two in the men’s discus. European bronze medallist Robert Urbanek had led with his 64.47m in the second round but world silver medallist Piotr Malachowski saved his best until last and grabbed victory with a throw of 64.65m in the final round to which Urbanek couldn’t respond.
Colombia’s world triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen continued her dominance in the event, missing her own world lead by just two centimetres and the meeting record by just four centimetres, but her 14.85m from the fifth round secured her a 23rd successive win. Any of Ibarguen’s five legal leaps would have been enough for victory, with Ukraine’s 2011 world champion Olha Saladuha second with a best of 14.62m.
Russia’s world champion Aleksandr Menkov claimed long jump victory thanks to his fifth round jump of 8.27m as USA’s world leader Jeff Henderson was just one centrimetre off that mark with his first round leap. In third, Wang Jianan used the home advantage and broke the Asian junior long jump record with 8.25m. Olympic, European and Commonwealth chamion Greg Rutherford finished seventh with a best of 8.05m, one spot ahead of fellow Brit Chris Tomlinson with 7.80m.
Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou cleared a Greek record of 4.73m to win the pole vault ahead of her compatriot Katerina Stefanidi with 4.58m as world indoor champion Yarisley Silva finished third.