Genzebe Dibaba narrowly misses world record and Jimmy Vicaut equals European 100m record at high-quality French meet
After an amazing series of world-class results, including a European 100m record from Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut (pictured), the Diamond League in Paris on Saturday might even threaten the Tour de France’s traditional spot on the cover of L’Equipe.
It was that good, with world leads falling repeatedly as it surpassed the excellent Prefontaine Classic in Eugene from earlier in this season.
The biggest race on paper was the women’s 5000m and while it was arguably the best performance of the meeting, there was no world lead in a strange race.
The first kilometre was a disappointing 2:54.12 and the world record looked impossible before Almaz Ayana tired of the poor pacemaking and burst into life.
Ayana blasted a 64-second lap and then 66 seconds to cover that second kilometre in an astonishing 2:44.86, which is 13:44 pace! Fellow Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba took over but the pace slowed badly again through 3km in 8:36.17. Ayana took over responsibilities again and picked the fourth kilometre up and the pair passed 4km in 11:28.33.
Dibaba waited but looked full of running as she blasted past Ayana at the bell and she covered the last lap in 61 seconds to win by six seconds and go fourth all-time with 14:15.41 and finish just four seconds outside the world record, despite the poor pace. Runner-up Ayana clocked 14:21.97.
Wayde Van Niekerk pulled off a shock in the 400 metres. Most observers expected Olympic champion Kirani James to run him down as he eased around the bend looking relaxed on the South African’s shoulder. However, James actually lost ground in the last 30 metres as Van Niekerk powered to victory in an African record 43.96.
James, who narrowly retains the world lead with 43.95, was second in 44.17.
Asafa Powell continued his superb form in the 100 metres to win in 9.81 but almost as impressive was Jimmy Vicaut closing on him in second to equal Francis Obikwelu’s European record with 9.86.
The women’s 400m hurdles saw world champion Zuzana Hejnova make a huge return to form. The Czech won in 53.76 compared to a previous season’s best of just 55.00. She just missed the world lead of Shamier Little of 53.74.
Evan Jager looked like he was going to win the 3000m steeplechase in an incredible time as he effortlessly eased away from the Kenyans after 2000m was passed in a fast 5:18. However his legs gave way as he landed on the final hurdle and he fell heavily to the ground.
Jager still got up and ran an American record of 8:00.45 but Jairus Birech passed him to win in a world-leading 7:58.83.
The women’s 800m also saw another superb performance. The pacemaker first’s lap was an erratic 56.33 but world champion Eunice Sum took over through 600m in 87.15 and pulled away to win in a world-leading 1:56.99.
Cuban Rose Almanza was second in a 1:57.70 PB while Selina Buchel set a Swiss record 1:57.95 in third.
The men’s 1500m also saw a Kenyan win in a competitive race as Silas Kiplagat sprinted into the lead in the last 30 metres. Four men broke 3:31 and 13 were inside 3:33 and the previous world lead.
The quality was also in abundance in the 110m hurdles as Orlando Ortega of Cuba ran down David Oliver to win in a PB and, of course, a world lead of 12.94. World champion Oliver ran 12.98, while sixth place was a record 13.19 – the best ever depth in a 110m hurdles.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the 100m in a world-leading 10.74. Blessing Okagbare was strong in the second half and finished second in 10.80.
It’s not just Greek inflation that is flying high. The women’s pole vault was won by Greece’s Nikoléta Kiriakopoúlou in a national record and world lead of 4.83m. And there was a Greek record double as the men’s event was won by Konstandinos Fillipis with 5.91m.
Caterine Ibarguen has not been beaten in the women’s triple jump since May 2012 and her win-streak continued in Paris as the Colombian notched up her third victory of this season with a 14.87m victory over Russia’s world-leader Yekaterina Koneva.
Christina Schwanitz didn’t challenge her world lead but more importantly she did end the long winning streak of multi world and Olympic champion Valerie Adams. The German won with 20.31m with Adams, who is returning from shoulder surgery, fifth on 18.79m.
Great performances aside, it was also a night where a few big names suffered defeat. Along with Adams, pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie and high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim were beaten in their events.
» See Athletics Weekly’’ magazine for more photographs and reports from the Diamond League and watch British Eurosport’s live coverage, which is sponsored by athleticsweekly.com