Stockholm: Jeilan And Jebet Show Olympic Medal Potential
There may be a few less hairs on his head these days than when he won the world title at the age of 22, but Jeilan proved his speed is as plentiful as ever, the 27-year-old unleashing a powerful finish to win the men’s 5000m in 13:03.22.
Jeilan is the last man to beat Britain’s Mo Farah in an outdoor global championship final – which he did in Daegu back in 2011 – and he ran a typically patient race in Stockholm, nestling in the pack as pacemaker Vincent Rono took the field through 3000m in a steady 7:54.43.
At that point the leading group was still 10-strong, and Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash soon took over at the front, but it was to be short-lived. Approaching the bell, his compatriot Yomif Kejelcha took command and cranked through the gears, but all the while Jeilan was waiting in his slipstream.
Jeilan moved wide in the home straight and, just as he did to Farah back in 2011, broke Kejelcha’s heart and spirit with an extra surge over the final 50 metres, crossing the line in a personal best of 13:03.22, with the last lap covered in 55.17.
Kejelcha was runner-up in 13:03.66, with Muktar Edris maintaining his position at the head of the Diamond Race standings with a third-place finish in 13:05.54.
As if his performance itself wasn’t enough, Jeilan was quick to send a message to his British rival shortly after the finish. “We started preparation early to beat Mo Farah this summer, and it’s going very well,” he said. “I think we are ready. I respect Farah, but we will run as a team.”
MEETING RECORD FOR JEBET IN STEEPLECHASE
Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet set off in the women’s 3000m steeplechase with the world record on her mind, and after a strong opening 2000m of 6:01.28, the current all-time mark of 8:58.81 looked to be under threat.
However, conditions conspired against her, and without the benefit of company or competition over the final two laps, the 19-year-old’s hunt for history began to slow to a halt. Jebet nonetheless produced a performance from the top drawer to come home in a meeting record of 9:08.37 and earn herself one of the diamonds handed out by meeting organisers for such performances.
“I wanted to improve my best time, to challenge myself, but the weather was not conducive to this,” said Jebet. “It was really windy in places. I’ll go to the London Diamond League now as my last preparation event before the Olympic Games.”
Fellow Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech came through to take second a long way behind in 9:22.56, with Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze breaking new ground to take third in a seven-second PB of 9:23.19. Olympic champion Habiba Ghribi, competing in her first race of 2016, finished sixth in 9:31.22.
“The last kilometre I felt so much stronger than normal, so at 600 metres to go I just went for it,” said LaCaze. “I’ve given myself the confidence I needed for Rio.”
RUDISHA SHOCKED BY ROTICH
As the rain fell continuously in Stockholm throughout Thursday, David Rudisha’s competitors in the men’s 800m must have been priming themselves for an upset, because if there is one thing we know about the Kenyan world record-holder, it is that racing in the rain is his one great weakness.
However, early in the race Rudisha looked his usual dominant self, opting not to go with the pacemaker Bram Som – who dashed through 400m alone in 50.82 – but still running at the front and controlling the race.
On the back straight, France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse charged past Rudisha, but his move wasn’t decisive enough to cut in by the turn. The pair ran together around the final bend, trading blows in their quest to keep the lead, but sitting behind them, ready to unleash the knockout punch, was Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich.
First Adam Kszczot of Poland moved past Rudisha, but then Rotich came wider and faster and swept to the front with 30 metres to run, eventually crossing the line with his arms aloft in 1:45.07. Bosse held on for second in 1:45.41, with Rudisha – again undone by the rain – only fourth in 1:45.69.
“It was a good race,” said Rotich, who will renew his rivalry with Rudisha at the Kenyan Olympic Trials later this month. “A medal in Rio? Yes, I think so.”
Back in second, Bosse cut a frustrated figure afterwards. “It was a tough race, a real fight,” he said. “I saw the shadow of Rotich and thought: ‘oh no, not again!’ I fought until the last metre but I just couldn’t win.”
There was another upset in the women’s 1500m as Poland’s Angelika Cichocka kicked clear of the field to win in 4:03.25, a season’s best. The field passed 800m in a steady 2:10.23, which played right into the hands of Cichocka, who moved past Britain’s Laura Muir on the back straight on the final lap.
But it wasn’t until the home straight that the Pole played her trump card, surging clear to victory ahead of Sweden’s Meraf Bahta, who was runner-up in 4:04.37 ahead of Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who also clocked 4:04.37.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF and the IAAF Diamond League