Beijing Diary, August 18, 2008-Mens' Steeplechase Thriller, Womens' Amazing 800 meters and Fast 200 meter semifinals! by Larry Eder


Monday evening has been an amazing night of track and field! The men's steeplechase, the women's 800 meters and the mens' 200 meter rounds all kept the 85,000 fans entertained....

Men's steeplechase

In a race that they will talking about for years, Kenyans did not sweep the steeplechase. Is this a sign of the end times?

So, Ruben Ramolefi of South Africa takes the lead, hitting the first kilometers in 2:46.97, with the usual suspects behind him, except there is tall French guy, Monsieur B. Mahiedine Mekhissi, in the front pack of six. Mustafa Mohammed of Sweden took the second kilometer in 5:33.84 ( 2:44), with Brimin Kiproto, Richard Mateelong, Yakob Jarso and Bouabdellh Tahri of France in tow. Also, one lone American, Anthony Famiglietti, who too the lead just after three and one half laps, and kept it until just before two kilometers, where he slid back to thirteenth.

Kipruto and Mattelong began to push the pace, with Jarso of Ethiopia in tow, Mekhissi in the middle of them and Tahri in back. With two laps to go, seven guys were still in contention.

Brimin Kiprop KIproto was primed for victory and just continued to push the pace, wtih Mateelong ready to pounce. With a lap to go, Kiproto is in the lead, Mekhissi in is third, Mateelong has him boxed in, and Jarso and Tahri are right behind.

The pace quickens, (last lap covered in just under 62 seconds) as Kiproto continues to dominate, clearing the water jump and heading towards the final barrier. KIproto, Mekhissi and Mateelong separate themselves from the next three and push over the final barrier, sprinting like made for the final fifty meters...Brimin Kiprop Kipruto of Kenya fought of Monsieur Mekhissi and took the gold medal in 8:10.34 for France, the first steeple record since Joseph Mammoud of France in 1984! In third, Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong of Kenya ran 8:11.01 for the bronze, giving Kenya, gold and bronze.

In fourth was Yakof Jarso of Ethiopia ran 8:13.47 for Ethiopia, a national record and in fifth was Bouabdellah Tahri of France in 8:14.79. Ezekial Kemboi of Australia was sixth in 8:16.36.

The US runner Antonny Famiglietti ran 8:27.82 for thirteenth place, after a personal best in the semi finals.

The gold medalist, Brimin Kiprop Kipruto of Kenya had the understatement of the year, " Of course, being an Olympic champion is not simple. It takes extra hard work..I think that my country is celebrating tonight that I won the steeplechase."

The silver medalist, Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi-B., described his strategy as follows: " I wanted to follow the leader and I did not want to lose the rhythm. I had a good rhythm, but iwas each to their own tonight. I really kept calm throughout the race, It is something I have worked on and today it obviously worked. I am twenty three years old and I have a silver medal. I am proud to be at this age with this achievement. My Olympic career has just started. "

Richard KIpkemboi Mateelong of Kenya, the bronze medalist described the last three laps of the race as " the last three laps were the hardest, because the race was fast. Everyone wanted one of the top three positions. "

Men's 200 meters, round 2

Usain Bolt and Shawn Crawford spent most of the race trying to outpsyche each other, with Bolt in 20.29 and Crawford in 20.43. Kim Collins was in third in 20.43, his seasonal best and Marlon Devonish of Great Britian was fourth in 20.43, his seasonal best.

Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe ran 20.23 in the second heat to move on. Walter Dix of the US was second, running 20.27, with Christopher Williams of Jamaica and Christian Malcolm of Great Britain in third and fourth. Stephan Buckland from Martinique also moved on, running 20.37.

Brendan Christian of Antigua ran 20.26 to win heat three. Martina Churandy of Netherland Antilles ran 20.42 and Kirstof Beyens of Belgium ran 20.50, also to qualify.

Heat four had Paul Hession, yes, I know, an Irish sprinter, winning the heat in 20.32, a seasonal best. Wallace Spearmon, who we are hearing is injured, looked fine here, running 20.39, and Saidy Nure Jaysuma of Norway was third in 20.45, his seasonal best.

Usain Bolt noted, " After the 100 meters, I ahd little time for celebration. All i have done is a big sleep and some relaxation. I just take it on my own. It was not all that easy, 200 meters is longer. I am going to try and do well in this and going to focus."

Shawn Crawford gets the obvious comment award of the day, " I did not notice how close it was, until the finish line. I do not remember seeing them, I just looked around and said, ' Oh shit."

Okay, moving on......a special treat, here are the shoes of one Wallace Spearmon, Jr, courtesy of the folks at Nike:

Wallace Spearmon, Jr. will be competing in men's 200m wearing the Nike Zoom Mawler. Spearmon asked that his Zoom Mawlers (power sprint spike created for the stronger athletes) make a statement and stand out from the rest of the pack. In response to his request, Nike's designers adorned the shoe with lightening bolts, a reflection of his strength and speed.

Women's 800 meters

This race was a battle of the Titans! This was to be, after last year, Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei's year. But, about early June, Pamela Jelimo started racing and turned the 800 meter world on its ear.

In this race, Pamela Jelimo took it out hard, hitting 26.9 for 200 meters and 55.41 at 400 meters, wtih Janet Jepkosgei Busienei in tow and Kenia Sinclair sticking close. Svetlana Klyuka of Russia was close, with Maria Mutola and Yuliya Krevun in tow.

Hitting the 600 meters in 1:24.03, there was some daylight between Pamela Jelimo and Janeth Kipkosgie Busienei, and Jelimo capitalized on that, continuing to develop the lead through here finish in 1:53.87, a new World Junior record and Area record.

In second Janeth Kipkosgei Busieni of Kenya took the silver, running a seasonal best o f1:56.07. Charging through the second pack was Hasna Benhassi of Morocco, running a seasonal best of 1:56. 73. In fourth, Svetlana Klyuka of Russia ran 1:56.94 for fourth. In fifth, Maria Mutola, she who has run in five Olympic Games 800 meter finals, did not give up, and she placed fifth in 1:57.68, her seasonal best.

Janeth Kipkosgei Buienei, the silver medalist said something that makes sense for all athletes: " I have tried my best and I feel good. I felt pressure from my colleaguesbecause everyone is good. This was not an easy race!"

That was an understatement.

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