Diamond League – Eugene: Scorching performances stateside

The third leg of this years diamond league took place in Eugene, USA at the Prefontaine Classic, named after Steve Prefontaine, the American middle/long distance running prodigy who tragically died in a road accident aged 24. Despite his premature death Prefontaine won a remarkable 120 races (out of 153) and held the American record over seven events during his short career, going some way to illustrate just what a talent he was.
It is a testament to him that the meet in Oregon attracts some of the best track and field’s in the world each year and the line up this year was no different.


MEN’S 5000M 

The men’s 5000m was headlined by double olympic champion and three-time 5000m world champion, Mo Farah, in his last track race in the US. Alongside Farah was a huge field of 29 athletes! Such a large field meant that bunching would be too dangerous and as a result we were treated a fast race.

The early running was done by Riley Masters, the American pacemaker, who fortunately for the athletes following in single file, took the brunt of the rotating wind on the US west coast. After leading through the first five minutes, Masters stepped aside having done an excellent job. A slight reshuffle of the pack followed as the bigger names including Yomif Kejelcha, the 3000m world indoor champion and Joshua Cheptegei, the 2014 10,000m world junior champion, took closer order. Also keeping a close eye on proceedings were Albert Rob of Bahrain and the home country’s 5000m olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo. This group, along with Geoffrey Kamworor pushed hard with two laps to go, pulling well clear of the rest of the field as they beat the track heading to the bell.

Mo had spent most of the real race tucked in on the inside and slowly, one by one the others fell of the pace as he kicked hard down the backstraight. Chelimo fell away to 7th, followed by Mohammed Ahmed in 6th, Rop in 5th and Uganda’s Cheptegei in 4th, leaving the big three.

Still stalking Farah with 100 to go, the olympic champion drove again, kicking from the front to out-sprint the two athletes, in Kejelcha and Kamworor, who will surely pose the greatest threat to Mo at the world championships in London. However, as has been the case since 2011, Farah had the measure of everyone else, crossing the line in a world lead of 13:00.70, an excellent performance, despite falling short of the meeting record he set five years ago of 12:56.98.

Kamworor, the world silver medalist and double world cross-country and double world half marathon champion, did fade slightly on the home-straight. However, his 13:01.21 is only just shy of his personal best of 12:59.98, set on the same track last year. Kamworor is unlikely to contest the 5000m in London, as the longer distance is his forte, and at 24 is still developing, which I think indicates that he will be even tougher to beat in London than he was two years ago in Beijing.

For now though, Farah remains the man to beat.

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WOMEN’S 200M 

One of the highlights from the women’s events was the 200m in which triple olympic medalist Tori Bowie stormed to a stunning 21.77! That time by Bowie being the 6th or 7th fastest (clean) time ever recorded (depending on how you believe to have doped). Even more remarkably, beaten in that race were three of the women ahead of her on that list – Daphne Schippers (IMO the rightful world record holder with 21.63), Elaine Thompson, the third fastest ever with her 21.66 set in the same race as Schippers, and Allyson Felix, the fourth fastest ever (21.69).

Those women, with a whole host of gold medals between them, were make to look mediocre by the most incredibly bend run by Bowie. Coming off the turn, Bowie had a three metre lead that she never relinquished, maintaining her gap, her focus and her strength.

The field that came home behind her contained four time olympian Ivet Lalava Collio, a former European champion and one of the fastest women ever over 100m with a personal best of 10.77 set way back in 2004. Marie Jose Ta Lou, the double olympic fourth placer finished 6th in 22.37! Just ahead of her three time 200m world champion and olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix in 22.33. The current world champion Schippers finished 4th in a still incredible 22.30, better than most athletes ever record. The imperious Elaine Thompson, who had prior to this race looked like she was about to begin a period of Bolt-esque dominance, finished third in 21.98, one of the fastest ever times for that position. Ahead of her, olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo broke the Bahamian national record with a run of 21.91, comfirming that her decision to double up in London is something to look out for.

However, even that time was a substantial margin behind Bowie, who has yet to decide which even to compete in at the world championships! Whichever one she chooses, there is sure to be fireworks.

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MEN’S SHOT PUT 

The field action saw four men throw over 21m, three of those from the USA. Ryan Crouser launched the shot to 21.89 with his opening attempt, a distance good enough to win. At that early stage however he could not be sure, with New Zealand’s world indoor champion Tom Walsh hot on his heels with a 21.71. Walsh would have three more throws over 21m in a very consistent series in which he finished second. Behind him, Joe Kovacs, the reigning world champion began with 21.04, before improving to a credible 21.44 as he steps up his bid to retain his world title. Completing the four, Darrell Hill, 2016 olympian, struggled to find his rhythm, but when he did, moved the shot out to 21.20. None of the guys however were able to keep pace with Crouser. He almost equaled his opening throw in round three, recording 21.88, just one centimetre shy, before unleashing a mammoth 22.43 in round five, the second longest throw of 2017 so far. Crouser, the olympic champion, is searching for his first world title this year, and looks to be gathering momentum less than eight weeks out from London.

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MEN’S 110M HURDLES 

Back on the track eight of the worlds best hurdles flew out to some rapid times over the barriers. Alec Harris, 2013 world champ David Oliver, and olympic bronze medalist Dimitri Bascou of France may have had races to forgot, clocking 13.30, 13.40 and 13.55 respectively. Bascou was out fast, perhaps a little too fast, as he hit the first hurdle and chopped his stride going into hurdles four and five, quickly falling away from the rest of the field.

At the other end of the scale, European indoor champion Andy Pozzi did not get out well, but made his way through the field and pulled up alongside olympic champion Omar McLeod with three hurdles to go. At that point it looked like Pozzi might cause a huge upset but he stumbled and fell back through the field, fading to 5th. Despite this, his time of 13.19 still equalled his personal best! Andy has not yet put together a good race outdoors but boy oh boy when he does I think it’s going to be scintillating.

McLeod himself always seems to put together the perfect race, reacting well to the gun and easing away from the rest of the field over the final few barriers, stopping the clock at a new world lead of 13.01 just a few weeks out from the Jamaican trials. Despite the win and time, he will head to his national trials for a fierce battle with Hansle Parchement, olympic and world medalist, and still the Jamaican national record holder (12.94), and with Ronald levy, who here ran a stunning and surprising personal best of 13.10 from lane one. Olympic finalist Devon Allen finished third in 13.11, a seasons best, ahead of fast closing world record holder Aries Merritt (13.13).

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WOMEN’S 100M HURDLES 

In the female equivalent, Jasmin Stowers topped the bill of seven American’s plus Alina Talay, in 12.59, ahead of Queen Harrison who came through late on the outside to finish second in 12.64. Olympic silver and bronze medalists Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin were unconvincing in 7th and 6th, whilst there was a much improved performance in 3rd from 2008 olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson (12.66). In the middle of all of the American’s was Christina Manning, who burst onto the scene running fast times during the indoor season. Here manning was 4th in 12.66, a great performance in her first world class season. The eyes of all of those ladies will now turn to fine tuning their preparation ahead of the US trials. With the absence of banned olympic champion Brianna Rollins, and with world record holder Keni Harrison having already qualified for the world champs by winning last seasons diamond league, the three other spots are up for grabs. Stowers has been the best on the circuit so far this year, but has a record of underperforming at the US trials.

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WOMEN’S HIGH JUMP 

Back in the field, Maria Lasitskene (formerly Kuchina) extended her lead atop the diamond standings and confirmed her status as the world number 1 by breaking the meeting record with a jump of 2.03, cleared on her final attempt, to equal her own world lead. Poland’s Licwink was second, a long way behind in 1.95 and the only other athletes over a 1.90 were world indoor champion (Vashti Cunningham) and olympic champion (Ruth Betia). Women’s high jumping has not yet took off this season and Lasitskene, the defending world champion who missed the rio olympics due to the blanket Russian ban, looks a nailed on certainty to win gold in London.

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WOMEN’S LONG JUMP 

A more competitive women’s long jump took place in close proximity. Whilst Christabel Bettey underperformed with 6.33, world and olympic silver medalist Blessing Okagbare had a consistent if not spectacular series, twice jumping 6.52 to finish 6th. One place ahead of her was Great Britain’s world silver medalist Shara Proctor, with a best of 6.63. Darya Klishina, the only track and field competitor from Russia in Rio, finished 4th with a promising 6.70. Klishina handled the circus around her incredibly well in Rio but despite a personal best of over 7 metres, has never won a medal at world level. Here she finished behind three women she will have to fight for one in London. Lorraine Ugen leapt to 6.78 in round four and recorded two jumps of 6.70, reaffirming that at the moment she is the British number one.

Reigning olympic and world champion Tianna Bartoletta has gathered a reputation in recent years as being someone to watch out for in the final round. Here, however, her best came in round two as she cleared 6.83. Whilst disappointed not to win, Bartoletta said she was happy to be competing and looking forward to peaking when i mattered in London. Here she was bettered by Brittany Reese, a lady who many believe is the true world record holder. Opening with 6.88, enough for the win, Reese jumped to 7.01 the following round, for a stunning victory over many of her main competitors. For seven years the undisputed world number one, Reese has had to play second fiddle to Bartoletta the last two years, despite recording bigger jumps. If she is to wrestle back the world title from her country women in August, a jump of way beyond 7 metres may be needed.

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WOMEN’S 800M 

Seven of the eight that made the Rio final took to Eugene for the women’s 800m, the event that is fast becoming the most predictable in the world. Caster Semenya romped home in 1:57.78 ahead of fellow olympic medalists Margaret Wambui and Francine Niyonsaba (1:57.88 and 1:59.10). Wambui looks to have improved this year in that she seems stronger and more robust over the final 50m. For that reason she may just have the edge on Niyonsaba for the silver medal, this time around. Olympic 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th placers were 5th – 9th here as Bishop dipped under 2 minutes, Jozwik, Sharp and 2015 world champion Marina Arzamasova fell just outside. Arzamasova has yet to get going in 2017, but in previous years has raced frequently on the circuit whilst looking ragged, and then turned up to the majors in sensational shape.

Ahead of the olympic finalists were Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia and double European indoor champion Selina Buchel. Having narrowly missed out on the last world and olympic finals despite having one of the fastest eight times in the semi’s, Buchel will be desperate to make amends in London, and a 1:59.46 clocking is a good step towards that.

Nevertheless, Semenya is verging on unbeatable. A fifth global gold beckons.

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WOMEN’S 1500M 

The missing olympic finalist from the 800M race stepped up in distance to contest a stellar 1500m. That athlete, Kate Grace, produced an excellent performance to finish slap bang in the middle of the pack in 7th. The time, 4:03.59 may well tempt her to double up at the US trials in June. Behind her was 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson and multiple global 4th placer and American record holder Shannon Rowbury.

The pace, initially slow as there was a reluctance to go with the pacemaker, went from zero to one hundred after 700m as the olympic champion Faith Kipyegon dragged the rest of the field up towards pacemaking Dana Mecke. At the bell it was Kate Grace on the inside and Faith Kipyegon on her should. The olympic champion moved clear, followed by Laura Muir and Helen Obiri, the 2017 in form athletes, who despite their continued pressure over the final 100m could not get close to the world number one.

Kipyegon dipped under the magical 4 minute mark, stopping the clock at 3:59.67. Obiri crossed the line in 4:00.46, a thousandth of a second ahead of Muir. Rababe Afari will be pleased with her 4:01.75 in 4th place and will certainly in contention at the worlds. Women’s 1500m running has been in an electric period since that infamous race in 2012, making it so hard to predict the medalists at this year’s worlds. Kipyegon will however, head to London with a target on her back.

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MEN’S TRIPLE JUMP 

Back in the sand pit all three olympic medalists were looking to break the meeting record of 17.76 set by doubly olympic champion Christian Taylor in 2016. The crowd would not have to wait long.

In the opening round Taylor put out a massive 17.82 (+2.5w) to take the lead. He would be joined over 17m by Will Claye, Dong Bin and Alexis Copello all by the conclusion of the second round. In the third round Claye began to increase the pressure, catching the board just right and increasing to 17.66, wind legal. Taylor, however, is the decorated athlete that he is because of his ability to cope under pressure. Steadying himself on the runway with the crowd fully behind him he extended his step phase by a considerable margin from previous attempts and landed clearly past the 18metre mark.

There was a moment of silence in the stadium as the crowd waited hesitantly for the distance to be read, and then the noise erupted as 18.11 flashed up on the big screen. Annihilating the meeting record, the third longest jump in history! There have been 11 wind legal jumps over 18m in history, four of which belong to Taylor, more than the three possessed by world record holder Jonathan Edwards.

Despite this, the win was not guaranteed for in round five Claye sent the stadium into delirium, jumping a windy (2.4) 18.05 to join a truly historic set of jumpers. Claye, beside himself with Joy put pressure on Taylor like no one has managed before. The result was Taylor fouling in round six, while Claye overextended but still cleared a mammoth 17.75.

For two years we have wondered if Taylor will break the world record set way back in 1995, and urged him to do so. One of the ingredients that has been lacking for him, has been competition. The inconsistency and injuries of Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Teddy Tamgho have meant Taylor has never really looked stretched.

Maybe, just maybe, with a full strength Will Claye pushing him, Taylor may breach that 18.29.

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MEN’S POLE VAULT 

For every inch of consistency Taylor shows in the triple jump, Thiago Braz is the opposite in the pole vault. A 19th place finish in qualifying of the 2015 world championships was followed by gold in Rio in a new olympic record of 6.03. Since then however, he has performed poorly on each and every occasion. The worst of performances however, was reserved for Eugene where he no heighted after two failed attempts at 5.56 before passing and failing 5.71 on his only attempt.

Even then it was not the most dire performance of the night as 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe had three failed attempts at 5.41, some 50 centimetres below his capabilities.

At the other end of the performance scale, Sam Kendricks beat Lavillenie on home turn 5.86 to 5.81 as the two continue their head to head battles. Lavillenie has won every diamond league since it’s inception in 2010 but the format change may have swung the competition in the American’s favour. Kendricks had three mixed attempts at 5.91, one good, one bad, and one ugly, but his confidence is soaring and it looks likely to come soon.

World champion Shawn Barber cleared a seasons best of 5.71 for 5th behind teenage sensation and world leader Armand Duplantis who achieved the same height but without any failures. European indoor champion Piotr Lisek recovered after a first time failure at 5.41 to add 40 cm, finally coming unstuck after 5.81. Lisek appears to have bulked considerably over the winter, adding much more muscle to an already incredible frame. It is perhaps this that has seem him bridge the gap to the pole vaulting elite. He and Duplantis, who has competed a considerable number of times already this year, will be looking to spoil the party in London and I am so excited to see how they, particularly the young Swede, fair on the biggest stage.

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MEN’S 400M

From the high’s of the pole vault compeition to the lows of the men’s 400m. An easy win for LaShawn Merritt in 44.79, who has raced much less frequently this year compared to his normal calendar (perhaps due to age?). Merritt was never really pressed but even then did not look completely at ease. Behind him the times were dreadful. Matthew Hudson-Smith walked home in 7th in 46.08 whilst olympic finalist Karabo Sibanda failed to finish. Baboleki Thebe, who has been magnificent in some races this year, was a poor second in 45.04, edging Vernon Norwood in 45.05. Twice world indoor champion Pavel Maslak continues to be unable to convert his magnificent indoor dominance into quality outdoor performances, finishing 5th in 45.42.

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WOMEN’S JAVELIN 

There were better performances by European champion Tatsiana Khaladovich, winning the javelin by twice throwing over 66 metres. Shiying Liu cleared the 65 metre line for second and Sara Kolak was hot on her tails in 64.64. World record holder Barbora Spotakova and world champion Katharina Molitor both struggled to hit their stride, finishing further down the pecking order in less than electric throws.

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MEN’S 100M 

Athletics is an up and down sport. The crowd, the athlete’s form, the time of day, weather etc are all variables that influence performances. Surprisingly, an event that has been flat all season remedied the disappointing performances seen in the men’s 400m and women’s javelin.

Bolt’s dominance is over.

There are a whole host of athletes jostling to become the worlds new fastest man. It remains to be seen in fact, if Bolt will even go to London. So far, it is doubtful.

Step up, Ronnie Baker. A +2.4 wind meant non of the times were legal in Eugene. Nonetheless, a 9.86 clocking to beat a world class field was mighty impressive. Su Bingtian executed a remarkable 9.92, his fastest time in any conditions, to finish second. Just behind him was Britain’s CJ Ujah. Ujah’s consistency has been impressive this year, with a succession of 10.02/10.03 clockings. Here he dipped under 10 seconds for third (9.95). Olympic silver and bronze medalists Gatlin and De Grasse also ran under 10 seconds, as did Michael Rodgers in 6th (9.98). The closeness of the field made for an enjoyable and exciting race. Hopefully in London we will see some wind legal clockings in the 9.90’s. The only athletes not under 10 seconds here, olympic finalists Gemili (200m) and Meite (100m) will be disappointed not to have taken advantage of the conditions, indeed Gemili may well begin to worry as it does not look likely that he will make the British team in either the 100m or 200m (at this stage). Trials are however a month away, and i’m sure there will be plenty of twists and turns before then.

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WOMEN’S 400M HURDLES 

If the men’s 100m times were exciting, the women’s 400m hurdles were jaw-dropping. Olympic silver medalist and European Champion Sara Petersen finished 6th in 54.85, remarkable for a diamond league! One place ahead of her was olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad in 54.53! Just ahead of her double world champion Zuzana Hejnova finished 4th in 54.40.

Those three athletes are certainly the favourites heading into London but the three ahead of them have all certainly thrown their names into the hat, should they get through the upcoming US trials in Sacramento. Georganne Moline, who since making the 2012 olympic final has had next to no luck, ran a stormer to finish 3rd in 54.09. Perhaps this year she will finally deliver on all the promise she has shown. In second place here, as she was at the 2015 worlds was Shamier Little. Little has struggled with consistency, scraping into the world final as a fastest loser despite being the world leader. Going on to win a silver medal from lane one, only to then crash out of the American olympic trials, when heading in as a favourite for a spot on the team. Here she found her stride to run a new PB of 53.44 (good enough for an olympic medal last year) to narrowly miss out on the world lead, run by race winner Ashley Spencer in 53.38.

Spencer is the real deal. Olympic bronze in Rio with a then PB of 53.72 after world indoor silver over the flat and 4x400m relay world outdoor gold in 2013 following disqualification of the Russian quartet. With a flat 400m of 50.28 Spencer has previously made a world team in the flat (2013) and could quite easily choose which event to compete in in London. Last year at the US olympic trials she navigated six rounds to finish 7th in the 400m and 2nd in the 400m hurdles. To do that again, given the fierce competition in both events, would be truly unique.

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WOMEN’S 5000M 

It was a night heavy with middle distance events in Eugene as in addition to the 8, 15 and steeplechase, there was also a women’s 5000m. The race had been billed as a world record attempt by Genzebe Dibaba on her sister Tirunesh’s time of 14:11.15 set back in 2008.

In truth it never really looked likely, nor does Genzebe appear to be anywhere near the form that took her to the 1500m world record in 2015. However, there were excellent time all the way through the field.

After the first kilometre the pace picked up and for a few laps it looked as though we would be on for an electric time. One by one some of the lesser known athletes drifted to the back of the field and became detached. Even then, Gotytom Gebreslase at the back of the field in 14th place, still recorded an excellent time of 15:15.82. After some initial bumping and barging, Emily Sisson of the states had a good run in 10th place, crossing the lane in 15:10.91.

Steve Cram made a good observation in commentary, that if this had been a real world record attempt the pacemakers lined up would have been of a higher quality. With no disrespect to Mary Kuria (who five minutes in had completely fallen off the pace), or indeed Meraf Bahta (who stepped aside with six laps to go, five seconds outside the required time), better pacers exist and perhaps a couple more should have been drafted in. The field itself also did not have much depth.

There were great runs however, from Gelete burka in 4th place, clocking 15:06.01, and Great Britain’s Eilish McColgan in 6th, running a PB and world qualifying time of 15:07.43 with her trademark strong finish. These two were a long way behind Rengeruk and Hassan, who battled for second place in isolation for much of the race. Hassan seemed to have the edge over the Kenyan, but found herself out-kicked over the final lap by the women who was largely an unknown quantity. Before this race Rengerek’s personal best of approx 15:30 would have seen her finish last, but an incredible display of strength and resilience saw her run an enormous PB of almost a second to finish behind Dibaba in 14:36.80. Hassan struggled around the last lap but still clocked a stunning PB of 14:41.24, despite still very much being a 800/1500m specialist, at which she is the world indoor and continental cup champion at the later distance.

Dibaba’s winning time – 14:25.22 was not a personal best or world lead (Hellen Obiri – 14:22.47) but was the 25th fastest time ever run and indeed only she and Meseret Defar have ever run faster on US soil. It is quite remarkable really to think that despite only five women having run quicker than this (legally) – T. Dibaba, Ayana, Defar, Obiri and Cheruiyot, there is no guarantee of Genzebe even medalling at the worlds in London.

Indeed, my prediction at this stage of the season would be Ayana, Obiri, Cheruiyot.

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MEN’S BOWERMAN MILE

As is always the case in Eugene, the men’s bowerman mile was the main feature of an action packed middle distance programme.

It was a stacked field, to the point that the late withdrawal of olympic 1500m champion Matt Centrowitz made little difference. Early pacers Rotich and Kipchirchir took the field through 800 in 1:55, with the back-markers a further 2 seconds behind.

As always, 2008 olympic champion Asbel Kiprop sat off the pace at the back, happy to let the others do the work and readying himself for a big kick. That plan was somewhat disturbed by Ben Blankenship who’s patience snapped after 1000M and flew from very last to the front of the field causing all sorts of chaos including the fall of Ayanleh Souleiman, holder of the 1000M world indoor best time.

A rapid quickening of the pace followed as athletes scrambled to find space for a clear run as Blankenship kicked hard from the front, way to early. At the bell Iguider, London olympic medalist chopped his stride and started to fade, whilst Elijah Managoi and Ronald Kwemoi surged to the front, both looking comfortable. Olympic finalists Charlie Grice of Great Britain and Ryan Gregson of Australia both found themselves detached and slipped down the field, finishing in 10th and 11th but still with great clockings of 3:53.52 and 3:56.90.

In the middle of the pack Blankenship and Iguider recorded great times but were unable to go with the four lead Kenyan’s, finishing in 7th and 6th. Ahead of them, the first non-Kenyan was olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy who despite sitting on the inside for the duration of the race, allowed the Kenyan’s too much of a head start 250m out from the line. Vincent Kibet was dropped by the lead trio as we entered the home straight finishing in 3:51.17.

Eventually it was a separate race between the first three, Ronald Kwemoi swining wide in lane 2 to pass Managoi and Cheruyiot 15 or so metres from the line, running through the line to finish in an exceptional 3:49.04. The second and third places should also be delighted with clockings under 3:50 as they prepare now for the ferocious Kenyan trials. Kwemoi though, looked like there was a little more left in the tank as he crossed the line, and will certainly be one to look out for.

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PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT

WOMEN’S 3000M STEEPLECHASE 

It really was a glorious night of athletics in the US with numerous incredible performances so picking the performance of the meet was not easy. It was however, well earned by Celliphine Chepteek Chespol.

The women’s steeplechase has for a long time been a bit of an athletics after thought, a relatively new event, not helped by the world record (until last year) being a dirty one. However, Ruth Jebet the new world record holder, and Hyvin Kiyeng have reinvigorated the event over the past two years, culminating in the obliteration of Gulnara Galkina’s world record in Paris last year.

Kiyeng was not present in Eugene, but Jebet had company from olympic 4th placer Beatrice Chepkoech and this super new talent Celliphine Chepteek Chespol, who has make the world take notice of her textbook transition from the youth and junior ranks to being world class of the very highest order.

The three of them had the race totally to themselves, despite the presence of olympic bronze medalist Emma Coburn, who ran very close to her own American record, in 9:07.96, good enough for 4th, and the presence of world bronze medalist Gesa Felicitas Krause who ran a commendable 9:20.32 for 7th.

At the front of the field the three Kenyan’s were away and clear, sharing the work and pushing themselves to some very quick times. It looked like disaster had struck for the ultra talented Chespol, who after having been clipped on the turn, stopped after the final water barrier to re-fit her shoe. You could quite easily have been forgiven for thinking to yourself ‘just kick it off!’ as she ground to a halt, but this young lady clearly knew what she was doing. A careful and calculated effort followed as she gradually worked her way back to the two leaders without over-extending herself, showing wonderful maturity for such a young athlete.

By the time they reached the final water barrier, world record holder and olympic champion Jebet had slipped a few strides behind, feeling the pace. Chespol however would not be content with just beating the olympic champion. Swinging out to clear the water barrier she kicked in hard and flew away over the final barrier, arms and legs frantically motioning to get the win over Chepkoech who recorded a phenomenal 9:00.70 to record one of the fastest times ever in second place.

What did that mean for Chespol’s time? 8:58.78. Eight-Fifty-Eight-Seven-Eight. Unbelievable. The second fastest time in history at the age 18 despite stopping to re-fit her shoe! Who knows what the time may have been had it not been for that mishap? Jebet took steeplechasing into a new realm last year with her wonderful performances, but Chespol may well be the future of the event.

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