Lausanne Diamond League Meet Sparkles as Locals Pack Stadium
By Roy Stevenson
The Olympic Stadium in Switzerland’s prosperous, medium sized city of Lausanne–the home of the Olympic Games Administrative Headquarters–tucked away on the edge of aqua blue Lake Geneva, roared to a capacity crowd last night. Despite superstars like Mo Farah and Usain Bolt skipping this meet to concentrate on the AREVA DL meet coming up in Paris a few days later, this meet exceeded track fan’s expectations.
An appreciative crowd hinged on every event and numerous thrilling finishes gave this meet the same atmosphere that the Eugene crowd generates on their home turf. The Stade Olympique is not a mega-sized bowl like the Stade de France in Paris, for example; quite modest in fact, and the stands are not even continuous around its perimeter–there’s a large gap at one end–but none of this seemed to matter to the fans as they witnessed some desperately close finishes in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, the women’s 1500m, the men’s 5000m, and the women’s 400m.
With nine of the women’s 1500m racers having personal bests below4:05, this race had great promise . . . and so it was. Race favorite Abeba Aregawi tucked in the lead behind the 2 pacemakers with Luiza Gega behind her. At the bell it was Siham Hilali, Aregawi, Gega, and Morgan Uceny, and the hunt was on. Aregawi’s final sprint carried her 10 meters clear (4:02.11) over fast finishing Sifan Hasan (4:03.73 PB), with Siham Halali third in 4:04.58.
Early leaders in the women’s 3,000m steeples were Claire Navez, Ayana Almaz, Sofia Assefa, Etenesh Diro Neda, and Hiwot Ayalew, in a steady clip behind Russian pacemaker Gulnara Galkina and Milcah Chemos. With nine of the starters boasting best times under 9:30, this was looking to be an honest race. At the halfway the lead gang was Navez, Ancuta Bobocel, Assefa, Ayalew, and Ayana.
The group stayed in contact until the last lap (bell reached in 8:16) and Alayew just held off a fast finishing Assefa by 3/100ths of a second in the last lap to finish in 9:17.66. Diro Neda (3rde) and Ayana (4th) gave Ethiopia a clean four place sweep.
Some snappy early pacemaking by Geofrey Barusei in the men’s 5000m (1400m in 3:37.4) looked promising for a sub-13, but the pace slowed in the middle stages. Tariku Bekele tailed Barusei for the first 3,000m, reached in 7:53, with an 8-meter gap back to the bunch. But Bekele was reeled in by Yenew Alamirew, Muktar Edris, and a hungry pack of seven that included Hagos Gebrhiwet. It was starting to look like a rewind of the previous weekend’s Birmingham 5K, with Gebrhiwet and Alamarew lurking up front, and Bekele substituting for Farah.
At the bell, Bekele led a pack that would keep him honest in the final sprint and he would eventually fade to 6th (13:13.61) while Gebrhiwet kicked along the back straight to try to steal the show. However, Alamirew’s blistering 140-meter final sprint buried Gebrhiwet (2nd), Edris (3rd), and Moses Kipsiro (4th). Alamirew’s winning time of13:06.69 included a 54 second last lap. This was a great race with fortunes changing every minute.
Without the lightning bolt from Jamaica entered in the men’s 100m, Tyson Gay, fresh from his fast 9.75 time, was hands down favorite over evergreen Jamaican sprinter, Asafa Powell. Gay lived up to the pundit’s expectations with a nice display of controlled sprinting that had him emerging from the straight line of sprinters at 30 meters and gradually increasing his lead over Powell at the finish to more than 1/10 second. His 9.79 win (2.0 tailwind) over Powell’s 9.88, Michael Rodgers (9.96) and Kim Collins (9.97) led four under 10 flat. Collin’s performance broke his own national record for St Kitts and Nevis, a fine time for a 38-year-old.
The men’s 800m, without Abubaker Kaki and WR holder David Rudisha, might have lacked a little luster, but the field still boasted six sub 1:44 metric half-milers, with Nijel Amos (Botswana) (1:41.73) and Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia) (1:42.53) at the top of the list, with Aman undefeated this season.
Pacemaker Nicholas Kiprotech led through the first lap in 49.6, and dropped out at 500m, leaving Aman in the lead to hold off Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (France) and Rafith Rodriquez (Columbia) who finished 2nd and 3rd. Aman’s time of 1:43.33 held off Bosse by nearly a second (1:44.11) and Pole Marcin Lewandowski (1:44.31), who finished fastest of them all with a great final 50m dash.
The final event, the women’s 4 x 100m showed an interesting relay exchange between Lolo Jones and Lashauntea Moore, as Lolo overran Lashauntea, the baton got mixed up, and went flying dramatically up in the air. Americans Kristi Castlin and Lauryn Williams had to do the long, slow walk back to the finish as the USA team DNFed.
With this meet considered less exciting than the “big guns”, Paris, London, Zurich, and Brussels, it still packed some serious punch for its weight, and proved no less a crowd pleaser than the other DL meets with its fast, close finishes, and still, overall, excellent starting fields.
The remainder of the Lausanne events are covered by another writer on RunBlogRun.com, so please watch for this separate coverage.