Doha: A Great Evening for Kenyans, by Justin Lagat, note by Larry Eder

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Our friend, Justin Lagat wrote this piece after watching his countrymen and women do so well in the first Diamond League Meeting, held in Qatar on Friday night, May 10, 2013! 

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David Rudisha wins in Doha, 1:43.97, photo courtesy of IAAF, Laurel International Management
A GREAT EVENING FOR KENYANS IN DOHA

There are all kinds of people in this world. There are those who can storm into a room and demand for whatever they want without even caring to look around first and see what the rest are doing! It so happened as we watched the Doha Diamond League at a hotel here in Eldoret that a guy hurried into the hotel room, looked at his wrist watch, ordered a mug of tea and asked the attendant to change the channel because he wanted to watch the news! I won't say much of what ensued after that. All I can say is that it is always good to be among the majority in the house and that is why we (a group of athletes) were able to have our way.

This year's Doha event was one of the best events I have ever watched, with great exciting performances by Lydiah Chepkurui in the 3000m steeple chase, Amantle Montsho in the 400m, David Rudisha in the 800m, Asbel Kiprop in the 1500m, Dawn Harper in the 100m hurdles and Hagos Gebrihwet with his great finish in the 3000m. Even though she finished second, Faith Chepng'etich was the athlete that impressed me the most. The huge crowds that were clad in Kenyan colors in the stadium were also very encouraging, especially to the athletes in general and to the patriotism of the nation. Indeed, it was another great evening for Kenyans.

The 1500m women's race started with a fast pace that was maintained for almost the entire distance and increased a little bit in the last lap. Given the stars that were in the field, with Abeba Aregawi and Genzebe Dibaba maintaining a blistering lead, Faith Chepng'etich appeared to be the odd one out there in terms of seniority and experience. She was the only junior in the race. The finishing kick employed by the two leaders in the last 300m was devastating, but Faith kept her faith and hung on. As Genzebe's sprint began to falter in the last 100m, she overlapped her and secured herself a second position behind the Ethiopian-born Swedish winner.

The men's 800m race was also great, only that it was perhaps too much of what was expected. It just happened like it usually happens when Rudisha is in a race. Always count on him to hit the front just behind the pace maker as soon as they cross the lane barriers. And while the rest of the athletes behind him would seem to be struggling, he would appear to be taking it easy with his long strides at the front. It was just like that in Doha, only that this time round it was as if he never wanted to give it all in his strength judging from the way he kept increasing his pace slightly when his competitors neared him, unlike the other times when he would be running alone far ahead of the rest.

Lydiah Chepkurui, who was not one of the perceived favorites to win the 3000m steeple chase race, came with another sweet surprise victory to the Kenyan fans. After Milcah Chemos began to lose ground to the leaders as they came to the bell, a number of us began to lose hope of a Kenyan win. However, Lydiah began to surge forward with about 200m to go taking Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, both from Ethiopian, by surprise. She went on to win the race in a record time of 9:13:75 and her joy could not be hidden as she went ahead to receive a number of hugs from her fans.

As it came to the men's 3000m, it was as though it was finally the turn of every athlete in the hotel watching the event with me. We all -regularly or irregularly- belonged to Thomas Longosiwa's training group and his performance was going to show us how effective our training has been. The first kilometer was crossed in 2:29 and the fact that Longosiwa was still there meant a lot to us. A few weeks ago, we had actually tried to run a 2:32 in a few 1km intervals at Chepkoilel Stadium in Eldoret and fell short of it by an average of 3 seconds, including Longosiwa himself. It meant that better times can be posted in a good track and a lower altitude, and that the times posted in Eldoret should not discourage anyone. However, we also observed that much remains to be done about the finishing sprints as we saw Hagos Gebrihwet open a big gap in the last lap to win the race as Longosiwa came in second.
There is a saying that whoever is currently at the lead, will not necessarily be the first one to arrive at the destination. 

There are many more IAAF Diamond League meetings ahead and we wait to see whether the current leaders will continue to win throughout the season.

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