Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar would have preferred to have raced over 5000m, the distance at which she has won consecutive Olympic and World titles, but she made the very best of the scheduled 3000m race at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm to win in 8:30.29, the world’s fastest time this year, on Thursday (22).
At the bell, Defar had her compatriot Genzebe Dibaba, the World 1500m finalist, on her shoulder, with the Kenyan who had followed her home for silver in the Luzhniki Stadium, Mercy Cherono, also close.
However, Defar turned the screw as they entered the final bend and kept it down all the way to the line as she crossed five metres clear of Cherono, who clocked a personal best 8:31.23.
There were personal bests, too, for the next three women home. Ethiopia’s Sifan Hassan took third place in 8:32.53, Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot clocked 8:33.97 and fellow Kenyan, fifth-placed Gladys Cherono, was timed at 8:34.05.
“To be able to come and win just a few days after the World Championships is good,” said Defar.
“I am so happy for this victory. I ran 14:50 at the World Championships, which is not fast for me, so I was able to run well tonight. I’m in good shape.”
Shkolina still hitting the heights
On a chilly evening, but with a near-capacity crowd in the 1912 Olympic Stadium, eight of the top nine High Jump finalists from Moscow did battle here again – and once again Shkolina came out on top to continue her unbeaten record this season as her fellow Russians Anna Chicherova and Mariya Kuchina took second and third place.
Shkolina had first time clearances at 1.90m, 1.94m and 1.98m before failing at 2.01m, but only Chicherova joined her in attempting that height, and the Olympic champion’s earlier failed attempt at 1.94m saw her take second place on count back, with Kuchina third after getting over 1.94m.
Another of Russia’s victorious field event athletes from Moscow, long jumper Aleksandr Menkov, earned a win on the night after turning his fortunes around mid-competition.
Menkov, who had mentioned several times the day before just how tired he was after his epic win in the Luzhniki Stadium, faced missing the cut as he moved down the runway on his third attempt with only a best of 7.77m to his credit, but he dramatically restored his fortunes with an effort of 8.06m which took him past South Africa’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena and into the lead.
Mokoena, who had led with 8.03m, improved to 8.16m in the fifth round, but by then the Russian had registered his best of the night, 8.18m, in the fourth round before passing on the two final rounds. Job done.
Spain’s Eusebio Caceres, fourth in Moscow, was third here with 8.00m.
Moscow bronze medallist Mariya Abakumova became a member of Stockholm’s Diamond Club after bettering Trine Hattestad’s 13-year-old Javelin stadium record of 67.92m with a winning effort of 68.59m
Diamonds are a girl's best friend
Abakumova threw her best effort in the second round to take the lead from Germany’s 2013 World champion Christina Obergfoll after the latter’s opening effort of 62.36m.
Obergfoll, perhaps drained after all the elation of Sunday, was unable to advance on her first effort, and fellow German and 2010 European champion Linda Stahl came through for second place with a last round effort of 63.75m.
“I didn’t throw so far in Moscow because it was a World Championships and in my home country and my husband threw one day before me and I was very, very nervous,” said Abakumova. “There was a lot of pressure. I felt relaxed tonight and I decided that I would compete tonight because my shape can be good for one day.”
Czech Republic’s World 400m Hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova joined her as winner of a 1-carat, US$10,000 diamond after beating the 2011 400m Hurdles meeting record of 53.74 set by Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer, as she won in 53.70.
Hejnova is having a dream of a year. Having arrived unbeaten at the Moscow World Championships, she was the commanding winner of the final in a national record of 52.83 and came to Stockholm already secure as winner of the Diamond Race.
She finished five metres ahead of Spencer, who was disqualified from her heat at the World Championships, and the Jamaican finished second in 54.88 ahead of the USA’s Moscow silver medallist Delilah Mohammad, who clocked 55.74.
The final race of the night, over 800m, involved Sweden’s World 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi but was conclusively won by the Kenyan who won the World title at that distance in Moscow, Eunice Sum, in 1:58.84.
Sum’s win came in a strange finale to the 800m.
As the Kenyan moved clear in the finishing straight, the field bunched as the US pair of Ajee Wilson and early leader Alysia Montano appeared to clash. The latter was forced wide, and, bizarrely, ran still wider, moving from lane three to lane four as she challenged Sum on her inside, as if it were a 400m race.
Montano’s strange route to the finish proved profitable, however, as she took second place in 1:58.96 ahead of Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui, who clocked 1:59.74, with Wilson settling for fourth in 1:59.96.
Aregawi was never at the front and finished sixth in 2:01.22, one place ahead of World 800m bronze medallist Brenda Martinez, who had suffered from a migraine the day before.
“I was feeling good today,” said Sum. “The pace was good for me. I was not really tired since Moscow was on Sunday and we came here directly, and I’ve had enough time to train and rest. The crowds were really screaming and really helping my morale and we ran good tonight.”
Montano commented: “I got stuck in a box at the end, I had a lot left but I just got stuck, and it was as bit cold out there tonight.”
Kiprop left out in the cold
The fears World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop expressed before this race proved well founded as the Kenyan struggled home sixth in 3:35.49 in a race won by World 800m bronze medallist Ayanleh Souleiman in 3:33.59.
Souleiman ran a fully committed race in the cool conditions after the sun had dipped beneath the rim of the historic stadium, tracking the pacemakers until the last one dropped out with 350 metres to go and then pushed hard down the back straight.
The Djibouti athlete looked like a man on a mission after being bumped and almost tripped in his Moscow 1500m semi-final and failing to progress.
“At the World Championships there was a lot of pushing but now I am happy having won tonight,” said Souleiman. “This is my second country. I live in Sweden so this is my home track.”
Kiprop said on Wednesday that he thought he would be the target in the race, particularly for talented runners who had not earned selection for the World Championships such as his Kenyan compatriot Augustine Choge.
However, Choge was not the danger Kiprop had anticipated and finished four places behind him in 3:39.41. It was, instead, the other Kenyans who ran in Moscow who proved sharper on the night, with Silas Kiplagat finishing second in 3:33.92 and Nixon Chepseba, whose front-running effort in the Luzhniki Stadium saw him miss the podium by just one place, taking third place in 3:34.05.
Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen, who equalled the 2013 legal best in the world of 14.85m to take gold in Moscow, sealed her victory in the Diamond Race with a final round effort of 14.61m to open an insurmountable 11 points lead over Ukraine’s Moscow bronze medallist Olha Saladuha, who finished second with a modest 14.07m.
Valerie Adams earned her fourth consecutive Shot Put World title in Moscow and looks almost impossible to beat at the moment. She secured her 40th consecutive competition victory here with a third round effort and stadium record of 20.30m, which extended her Diamond Race lead to 16-12 over the woman who finished second in Moscow and here as well, Germany’s Christina Schwanitz, who threw 19.26m.
LaShawn Merritt, the World 400m champion, looked very comfortable as he won here in 44.69 ahead of Dominican Republic’s Moscow bronze medallist Luguelin Santos, who was a distant second in 45.25.
Poland’s Piotr Malachowski, Discus silver medallist in Moscow, consolidated his gold medal position as far as the Diamond Race is concerned with a winning effort of 65.86m which extended his points total to 14, six more than Germany’s Robert Harting, the absent World champion, and Estonia’s 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter, who was only fourth here with 62.93m.
Iran’s London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Ehsan Hadidi took second place with a third round effort of 63.64m, ahead of Germany’s Martin Weirig, who reached 63.20m.
Spiegelburg upsets Suhr and Silva
In the absence of Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, who upstaged both of them on the evening of the World Championships Pole Vault final, the Moscow silver and bronze medallists USA’s Jennifer Suhr and Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, resumed their battle at the top end of the Diamond Race.
Suhr, the 2012 Olympic champion, had the chance to win the event had she cleared 4.69m at her third attempt, with all other competitors finished, but it was not a night for big heights and the US record-holder could not manage the height and had to settle for fourth place with 4.59m.
“I always have a tough time jumping here,” lamented Suhr. “This is just my bad luck meet.”
Suhr’s failure left Silva and Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg as joint leaders, and they progressed to a jump-off which was won by the German as she cleared 4.69m on her first attempt, with Silva failing. Brazil’s former World champion Fabiana Murer finished third, having also cleared 4.59m.
Silva now leads the Diamond Race with 11 points, two more than Spiegelburg and four more than Suhr, ensuring an exciting climax to this event at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich in eight days’ time.
As might have been expected, Kenyans obliterated all their opposition in the 3000m Steeplechase as they took the first six places, however, the race certainly didn’t run to form in any other repsect.
World champion Ezekiel Kemboi made an early exit, dropping out with two laps remaining of a race won by Hilary Yego in 8:09.81 with Gilbert Kirui second in 8:11.55, third place went to the World silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto in 8:12.35.
Curtis Mitchell, the United States runner who achieved his major championship break though by taking the 200m bronze medal in Moscow behind Usain Bolt and his Jamaican team-mate Warren Weir, discovered the harsher side of the sport here as he pulled up clutching his left hamstring shortly before the halfway stage of a 200m race surprisingly won from lane eight by Ukraine’s Serhiy Smelyk in 20.54.
David Oliver, the World 110m Hurdles champion, flattened barriers three and seven en route to flattening his opposition on a chilly evening. The former US record-holder clocked 13.21 to finish well clear of Russia’s Moscow bronze medallist Sergey Shubenkov, who recorded 13.35, as Moscow silver medallist Ryan Wilson struggled home in seventh place in 13.60, a series of crashed hurdles behind him.
Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart won the 100m in 11.24, 0.01 second clear of US sprinter Alexandria Anderson, with another US athlete, Barbara Pierre, third in 11.29.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF