Justin Lagat wrote this last piece on the Brussels DL and the final meet of the 2017 Diamond League series. Providing @runblogrun readers with a view from Kenya, Justin Lagat has surprised us with some great insights into the finest athletes in Kenya.
Kenya’s Kipruto, Kipyegon and Obiri ended the Diamond League season at the IAAF Brussels Diamond League on a high note:
It is hard to choose which was the more entertaining of the men’s 3000m steeplechase and the women’s 1500m races at the King Baudoin Stadium as both of them brought fans to their feet. Also, interesting to note about the two races is that both Conseslus Kipruto and Faith Kipyegon have had an almost similar story coming into the race finals. They both won the Olympic titles last year in Rio, won the IAAF world championships in London last month and were the favorites, despite the huge competition they had, to take the Diamond League trophies in their events.
From the press conference interviews before the event, Kipruto had hinted that the fans could witness a fast race; a sub 8 minute. But, although that didn’t happen, it was still such a fast and thrilling race. Sometimes, record times are hard to run when there are more than two big names in a race. The runners would, in the middle of a race, normally shift their focus on a strategy to make sure they win the race sacrificing their ambitions of a fast time.
With Evan Jager at the front after the pace setters had done their work, it seemed as though Kipruto was contented in following him as he knew he would count on his strong finishing kick on the last lap. El Bakkali was also patiently on the heels of Kipruto.
At the bell, Bakkali moved to the front and continued to accelerate as Kipruto overtook Jager and began going after him. A clear winner between the two could not be established even up to the last barrier before Kipruto was able to produce such a strong kick, which will definitely become one of the memorable moments of the AG Memorial Van Damme meeting, to surge past Bakkali just before the finish line. Kipruto won the hotly contested race in 8:04.73 while, in a new personal best time, Elbakkali followed in 8:04.83. Jager, who had stumbled and fell down at the last water barrier, finished third in 8:11.71.
In the women’s 1500m, it was a fast and an interesting race from the start. But, the real battle was in the last lap, between Sifan Hassan and Faith Kipyegon. Hassan had taken the vantage position of the inside lane and Kipyegon was doing her best to overtake her from the outside, which wasn’t easy. However, on the home stretch, Kipyegon was able to summon a stronger finishing kick to edge Hassan at the finish line as she won her first ever diamond league trophy in a seasonal best time of 3:57.04. Hassan followed in 3:57.22.
Hellen Obiri had a new competitor in the women’s 5000m. Caroline Kipkirui, well known for pacing Mary Keitany to the new women’s world record in marathon, gave Obiri a hard run in the last few laps of the race. But, in the end, Obiri opened up some gap against her to cross the finish in 14:25.88. Kipkirui came second in 14:27.55.