It would be hard to find two more contrasting figures of athleticism than Sweden’s Daniel Stahl and Kenya’s Rhonex Kipruto, but in their own unique way the pair lit up the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm on Thursday evening (30) at the third meeting of the IAAF Diamond League.
Stahl is a towering hulk of muscle, a hefty behemoth replete with virtually peerless power and strength, while Kirputo is a tiny, ultra-thin figure, one whose compact stride covers the ground with such effortless efficiency that it’s impossible to imagine him as anything but a distance runner.
But in Stockholm both stamped their authority over world-class contemporaries with similar supremacy, Stahl sending the home crowd happy with victory in the men’s discus with 69.57m, Kipruto turning in the fastest performance in two years when clocking 26:50.16 in the men’s 10,000m, a frankly astonishing effort given the surging headwind he faced on every journey up the back straight.
The 10,000m may have been a non-Diamond League event, but Kipruto somehow managed to outshine perhaps every athlete on the programme. He was content to sit behind the leaders for the first half of the race, with Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet taking the field through 5000m in 13:28.65. But then the 19-year-old Kenyan surged to the front, upping the pace over the laps that followed.
By 9000m he had just Gebrhiwet for company, but soon the Ethiopian couldn’t live with his teenage rival and began to drop away. Kipruto stormed to the finish with a 2:34 final 1000m, setting a world lead, meeting record and PB of 26:50.16.
“I’m really happy,” said Kipruto. “Now I’m going back to Kenya and training until I run another Diamond League – maybe 5000m. Later in the year I’ll run the 10,000m at the Worlds.”
Gebrhiwet came home second in 27:01.02, with Eritrea’s Aron Kifle third in 27:27.68.
Stahl’s strong momentum continues
In the men’s discus, it appeared at one point as if Stahl had done something even more astonishing, the Swede sending the disc hurtling into the night sky in the fifth round and watching as it hit the turf at least three metres beyond the 70-metre line.
But the wild cheers soon turned to groans when the red flag was raised, a furious Stahl exiting the circle and left to wonder what might have been. His second-round effort of 69.57m proved enough to take victory, however, with Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres second with 68.96m and Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger third with 66.97m.
“I threw a little bit too high today – that’s why I didn’t throw even longer,” said Stahl. “But it’s there, it’ll come. It felt like I had 60 percent power in my winning throw. It feels like there’s a lot more to give.”
Obiri takes a tumble, Tirop takes the win
Elsewhere there were a number of upsets across a range of events. World cross country champion Hellen Obiri was an unlucky victim of a collision of athletes with a little over 1000m to run in the women’s 5000m, the Kenyan taking a heavy fall and conceding a good 40 metres to the leaders at a crucial stage. She closed the gap over the lap that followed but by the time the leaders kicked with a lap to go her fuel gauge was in the red.
Canada’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford led into the home straight and appeared ready to spring a massive surprise, but Kenya’s Agnes Tirop soon came storming past, taking victory in 14:50.82, a world lead. Ethiopia’s Fantu Worku was second in 14:51.31 with Kenya’s Lilian Rengeruk third in 14:51.34. Obiri faded to 12th.
World champion Elijah Manangoi was well off the pace in the men’s 1500m, the Kenyan coming home 10th in 3:48.83. It was his compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot who reigned supreme, the Kenyan kicking off the front with 200 metres to run and coming come a clear winner in 3:35.79.
Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman took the runner-up spot with 3:37.30, the same time credited to Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who unleashed a storming finish to take third.
Ajee Wilson was an impressive winner of the women’s 800m, the US athlete taking command at the front after the pacer stepped aside after 500m. Wilson hit 600m in 1:30.09 and kept the pedal to the floor around the final bend, holding off the strong challenge of Ethiopia’s Habitu Alemu to take victory in 2:00.87 to Alemu’s 2:01.26. Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei took third with 2:01.98.
“I did what my coach told me to do and it worked out,” said Wilson. “I got out well in first 100m and had a good position. The majority of my training right now is really distance orientated. I'm looking forward to coming down a bit and doing more specific workouts and speed training.”
Montler notches big long jump upset
There was a huge upset in the men’s long jump, Sweden’s Thobias Montler the sole athlete in the field able to thrive in the difficult conditions. He soared to a personal best of 8.22m in the second round, a mark which no one could match.
Juan Miguel Echevarria came closest, the Cuban unable to match his heroics here last year and having to make do with second via his sixth-round effort of 8.12m. USA’s Jeff Henderson was third with 8.09m while world champion Luvo Manyonga was fourth with 8.07m.
“I did my 8.43 jump a week ago but it was in the wind so it gave me confidence for today,” said Montler. “Of course I am surprised to come out on top with the big names – I know Luvo and Echevarria can jump really far but maybe I ‘m more used to the cold.”
Caballero defeats Perkovic
Cuba’s Denia Caballero sprang a surprise in the women’s discus, an event where two-time Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic could only finish fifth.
Perkovic indicated yesterday that she wasn’t expecting much on her season debut, given it was still four months out from the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, but even still she was below-par. She registered two valid attempts – her best effort of 63.71m leaving her fifth. Caballero took victory via her second-round effort of 65.10m, with fellow Cuban Yaime Perez just behind with 65.09m and China’s Yang Chen third with 64.25m.
Sam Kendricks continued his fine start to the season with his second Diamond League victory in the men’s pole vault, the American the only athlete in the field able to clear 5.72m in the breezy conditions, which he did at the first attempt.
With that he decided to call it a night, the world champion in prime position at the head of the standings with his maximum tally of 16 points from his first two meetings. Poland’s Piotr Lisek finished second with 5.60m, while Japan’s Seito Yamamoto was third with a best of 5.48m.
Mariya Lasitskene had a few nervous moments in the women’s high jump, but the reigning world champion opened her season with a win. She had two failures at 1.90m but sailed clear on the third effort and then cleared 1.92m at the first attempt, something no other jumper could manage. Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko took second on countback from Sweden’s Erika Kinsey, both clearing a best of 1.90m.
“Today it was super hard for me, my body was not listening at all,” said Lasitskene. “I tried not to get injured during the competition and therefore I´m happy. That really was my only and big goal for today.”
In the women’s 1500m, a non-Diamond League event, Britain’s Laura Muir displayed her vast supremacy with a solo run to victory, the 26-year-old coasting away from the pack after the pacemaker stepped aside after 800m and cruising home in 4:05.37 – an ideal tune-up for Rome next Thursday where she will target a much faster time.
“Today was about the win rather than the time with the conditions as they are,” she said.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF