Justin Lagat is our correspondent in Kenya. We ask Justin Lagat one thing, to provide for us a view into the running scene in Kenya. Justin has written for us for over a year now, and I am happy our readers enjoy his columns.
Asbel Kiprop gave a message to the world in Monaco on Friday evening. And, so did Mo Farah!
photo by PhotoRun.net
ASBEL KIPROP LIVED UP TO FAN’S EXPECTATIONS IN MONACO,
by Justin Lagat
Sometime in May this year, Asbel Kiprop updated on his Facebook page that he had a surprise for his fans on 19th July at the IAAF Diamond League in Monaco. The day finally arrived and true to his word, his performance was spectacular! The 1500m event at the meeting will remain as one of those to be talked about for a very long time after. He managed to run the fourth fastest time in history; 3:27.71, which is as well the world leading time for this year and a Diamond League record.
The first 400m of the race looked liked it was an 800m event as pace makers crossed it at 52 seconds with the other runners beginning to leave gaps in between them as they followed in hot pursuit. The laps that followed were fast too. Consequently, all the first seven athletes here posted their personal best times. Mo Farah was perhaps the athlete whose time surprised many given that he is more known for the 10,000m and the 5,000m events. With a time of 3:28.81, he now boasts the fastest time by a British athlete.
The Monaco meeting happened while three weeks remain to the World Championships and many people are going to use the results here to project the outcome in Moscow. If all goes well until then, Asbel looks poised to defend the championship title he won in Daegu in 2011. He did post another world leading time last year again in Monaco before the Olympics, but he wasn’t able to do well at the big event due to a hamstring injury. There is a wise saying in Kalenjin (Asbel Kiprop’s native language) that says, “Lightning does not strike one tree repeatedly”. It is not likely that he will again in Moscow suffer the same misfortune that he suffered in London.
Three athletes that made the Kenyan team in the 5000m event; Thomas Longosiwa, Edwin Soi and Isaiah Kiplagat, also happened to compete against each other in the 5000m event. It was also a very fast pace that saw Edwin Soi run a world leading time of 12:51.34. For the last few laps, I and a group of athletes cheered a lot when all the athletes in the leading pack appeared to be Kenyans. I myself do not know exactly the home of Albert Rop, but some guys in the room where we watched the screen claimed they knew him. It was only when the screen showed the results at the end of the race did we learn that the athlete had already changed his citizenship and now runs for Bahrain. With Rop having beaten Thomas Longosiwa and Isaiah Kiplagat, it already points out a possibility of Bahrain slimming the chances of Kenya winning medals in the men’s 5000m event at the world championships.
The women’s 3000m steeplechase event was a Kenyan affair when four Kenyans opened a gap and ran in their own separate group ahead of the rest, almost from the start of the race. The later stages of the race became a duel between the two athletes who have been dominating the event this year; Milcah Chemos and Lydia Chepkurui. It was Milcah’s strong finishing kick that gave her the win over her opponent. With a time of 9:14.17 she managed to set a new meeting record. Fancy Cherotich, who had been leading the race at an earlier stage, finished in third position.
Jenny Simpson of the US ran a season’s best time of 4:00.48 to win the women’s 1500m, beating Hellen Obiri, who had won at the Kenyan trials, to a second position. Other Americans followed to take the first five positions in this race, an indication that the US is likely to get one or two medals here at the world championships.
Fast times are usually recorded at the IAAF Diamond League in Monaco due to the favorable weather conditions there. This year was no different. Who knows what will happen here next year? I can’t wait to watch again! And I can’t wait to see how it all translates to the upcoming World Championships in Moscow. Time will tell!