Rabat, the first ever IAAF Diamond League meeting in Africa, was a success.


Justin Lagat was busy this past week. For five days, Justin provided @runblogrun with a daily column on the World Under 18 Athletics Championships. For today, Justin provided us with a strong column on the Rabat Diamond League meet and why it is so important.

Soufiane_El_Bakkali_-_Men_s_3000m_Steeplechase_-_Rabat_2017_2448x1632_JPD_37554_596bf2bf8c.jpgSoufiane El Bakkali wins for the home crowd, photo by Jean Pierre Durand, for IAAF Diamond League

Rabat, the first ever IAAF Diamond League meeting in Africa was a success.

The first ever IAAF Diamond league race in Africa was a success. The crowd at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat was great and cheered the athletes enthusiastically.

It was a great treat to the Moroccan home fans as they witnessed most of their elite runners get the rare chance to beat some of the world's best runners in front of them.

Andre_de_Grasse_-_Men_s_200m_-_Rabat_2017_2448x1632_JPD_37555_596bf2bfd6.jpgAndre De Grasse wins the 200 meters, photo courtesy of Jean Pierre Durand, for IAAF Diamond League

One of the events that were being anticipated was a showdown between Jamaica's Yohan Blake and Canada's De Grasse in the 100m race. As Usain Bolt prepares to retire in track running, a debate about who is likely to take after him in the 100m and 200m events keeps coming up and it would have been great to see Blake against Grasse, but Blake pulled out of the race at the last minute due to injury. So, De Grasse won the 200m event and continued to build his confidence ahead of the world championships.

Nijel_Amos_-_Men_s_800m_-_Rabat_2017_2448x1632_JPD__1__37547_596bf2bde6.jpgNijel Amos wins 800 meters in Rabat, photo courtesy of Jean Pierre Durand for IAAF Diamond League

Looking at the program, the Rabat meeting had more distance events than the sprints which seemed to have been a good consideration by the organizers given the enthusiasm of the fans during the 3000m event and the 3000m steeplechase events. Perhaps, for the sake of getting more fans in the stadiums and saving some money in getting elite athletes to the meetings, the diamond league meetings should have some cities focusing more on sprints and others in the distance events depending on the likes of the crowds in the cities where the events are to be held.

Soufiane_El_Bakkali_-_Men_s_3000m_Steeplechase_-_Rabat_2017_1632x2448_JPD_37598_596bf39f5b.jpgEl Bakkali celebrates his win with his Rabat fans, photo courtesy of Jean Pierre Durand for IAAF Diamond League

Some events, like the men's 800m and 3000m steeplechase, pointed out to what is more likely to happen in London during the world championships.

Nijel_Amos_-_Men_s_800m_-_Rabat_2017_2448x1632_JPD_37552_596bf2bf1a.jpgNijel Amos, winning the Rabat 800 meters, photo courtesy of Jean Pierre Durand for IAAF Diamond League

Amos Nijel continued to dominate the 800m with his front-running style as he won it ahead of Kenya's Kipyegon Bett who took second, just like he did at the Kenyan trials, and USA's Brazier Donavan who finished third. The last time Nijel ran against David Rudisha, who is the world defending champion, Rudisha was the one who did the front-running. It will be interesting to see who will be running at the front if the two will make it to the finals in London. The men's 800m race apparently seems to be more unpredictable and open this year than it was in the last couple of years.

Shaunae_Miller-Uibo_-_Women__400m_-_Rabat_2017_2448x1632_JPD_37584_596bf39e18.jpgShaunae Miller-Uibo winning the 400 meters, photo courtesy of Jean Pierre Durand for IAAF Diamond League

It was quite surprising that no Kenyan or Ethiopian won any of the races in Rabat. In the 1500m women, Cichock Angelika of Poland edged Morocco's Arafi Rababe to win the race. Iguider Abdelaati won the 3000m race followed by Mechaal Adel of Spain before another Moroccan, Soufiyan Bouquantar came in third.

The men 3000m steeplechase event had half of the Kenyans going to represent the country at the London world championships in the race, but Morocco's El Bakkali was able to win the race and in some way send a warning to the Kenyans that they will have a hard run in London if they are to continue dominating the event. Jairus Birech finished five seconds behind him to take second while Conseslus Kipruto had to drop out of the race due to an injury.

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