Mo Farah wasn’t challenged at the Muller Grand Prix in the same way he was at the recent IAAF World Championships London 2017, but his victory at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham on Sunday (20) marked a significant milestone nonetheless.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist was contesting his final track race on British soil. There were never any real worries over whether or not he would win, but for a brief moment on the final lap, Spain’s Adel Mechaal and Kenya’s Davis Kiplangat looked poised to challenge the world 10,000m champion.
Farah, though, still had a gear left as he approached the home straight. And once he knew had it in the bag, he punched the air in delight to whip up support from the crowd and went on to cross the line in 7:38.64. Mechaal finished second in 7:40.34, a stride ahead of Kiplangat.
“It has been an amazing week,” said Farah, who took silver in the 5000m in London. “I’ve managed to have a bit of downtime with the family and relax, but emotions have been high coming into this event; not as much as London but it is my last time at home and I really enjoyed it.
“I never dreamed that I would come a four-time Olympic champion and multiple world champion,” he added. “Running was a hobby when I was younger but it has become a job and I love it. I now have to see what I will do on the road. I don't think I'll have the same pressure so I'll go and enjoy it.”
Hassan breaks meeting and national records
In terms of quality marks, the women’s 3000m provided the best – and perhaps most surprising – track performance of the meeting.
World 5000m champion Hellen Obiri followed the pacemaker during the early stages and then found herself at the front of a sizeable pack, passing 2000 metres in 5:41.83.
But as the race approached the closing stages, the Kenyan appeared to be running on tired legs –understandable for someone who is approaching the end of a year in which she has had busy cross-country, indoor and outdoor campaigns.
Obiri tried to kick with 200 metres left, but her pursuers were poised behind her. Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen had worked her way through the field and moved on to Obiri’s shoulder, but it was world indoor 1500m champion Sifan Hassan who had the best finish, kicking on to win in a Dutch record of 8:28.90.
Klosterhalfen finished second in a German record of 8:29.89, becoming the seventh member of an exclusive club of women to have run faster than two minutes for 800m, four minutes for 1500m, 8:30 for 3000m and 15 minutes for 5000m.
“It has been three years since I last ran a 3000m (outdoors) so I enjoyed the opportunity to run the distance here,” said Hassan, the world 5000m bronze medallist. “It went out fast but then I felt a bit tired, so winning surprised me. I had to work hard but that is a great result coming off the back of a World Championships.”
Obiri eventually finished fourth in 8:30.21, 0.10 behind compatriot Margaret Chelimo. Britain’s Eilish McColgan set a PB of 8:31.00 in fifth, while world steeplechase champion Emma Coburn was 11th in a PB of 8:48.60.
Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum hadn’t raced since the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai back in May, missing the World Championships in the process. With a convincing victory in Birmingham, the world indoor silver medallist showed she could have been a factor in London.
She, along with the rest of the field, trailed compatriot Gudaf Tsegay for the first three laps. Tsegay, the only athlete to go with the pacemaker, had her 15-metre lead reduced on the last lap and was eventually caught by Seyaum with 200 metres to go.
Seyaum went on to win in 4:01.36 with Kenya’s Winny Chebet coming through for second place in 4:02.24. Tsegay wound up fourth in 4:03.00 while world silver medallist Jenny Simpson was seventh in 4:03.71.
Botswana’s Nijel Amos made amends for his fifth-place finish in London, winning the 800m in 1:44.50. The 2012 Olympic silver medallist finished comfortably ahead of world silver medallist Adam Kszczot and his compatriot 1:45.33, the fast-finishing Poles clocking 1:45.28 and 1:45.33 respectively.
Thompson returns to winning ways
Before the World Championships, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson was undefeated this year over 100m. An untimely illness meant the double Olympic champion could finish no higher than fifth in London, but she returned to good form in Birmingham.
After winning her heat in 10.97, she battled a -1.2m/s headwind in the final to win in 10.93. Double world silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who had won her heat in 10.94, pushed Thompson all the way but once again had to settle for the runner-up spot, clocking 10.97. Two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers was never a factor and finished sixth in 11.22.
Running with the confidence of a newly minted world champion, Ramil Guliyev won the 200m in 20.17. The Turk trailed Botswana’s Isaac Makwala for the first 150 metres, but Makwala faded in the closing stages as Guliyev forged ahead. USA’s Ameer Webb came through for second in 20.26.
USA’s Phyllis Francis didn’t fare quite so well in her first race since winning a surprise world title. Held in light rain – not quite as heavy as the downpour during the world 400m final – it was Bahrain’s world silver medallist Salwa Eid Naser who proved strongest, holding off Allyson Felix and USA’s Courtney Okolo to win in 50.59.
Having missed out on a medal in London, world record-holder Aries Merritt rebounded in Birmingham by winning the 110m hurdles. The 2012 Olympic champion clocked 13.29 to beat 2015 world champion Sergey Shubenkov by 0.02.
Two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova also produced a well-timed charge to win the 400m hurdles. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad had a slight lead over Jamaica’s Janieve Russell and Britain’s Eilidh Child for most of the way, but Hejnova came through from fourth to first during the closing stages to win in a season’s best of 54.18. Muhammad was just 0.02 behind in second.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF