As two of the keenest observers of atheltics texted me last night, ” best meet of the year.” When I asked key players what was their favorite event, same answer, “women’s steeplechase.”
Monaco Herculs EBS is the tenth Diamond League meeting of the season. Held in the third week of July, the meeting, in Stade Louis II nearly always features hot and humid weather, but then, as the sun goes down, the weather cools down. The level of competition, with fine fields, just brings out the finest performances with fine rivalries.
The seven World Leaders, and the 13 National records in Herculis Monaco EBS meeting should give us a glimpse of the amazing success of the meeting. Here’s Justin Lagat’s commentary on the fine performances by Kenyan and South African athletes.
This weekend’s Monaco IAAF diamond league was big and historic. So much was achieved in just about one hour. From world leading times, to area records, to meeting records, to personal best times and, outstandingly, a world record by Beatrice Chepkoech in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. It is hard to capture all these in a single article.
The women’s 3000m steeplechase race started out very fast with the pace maker, Caroline Tuigong stepping out after the first 1,000m in 2:55.23. Even before the first 200m of the race, the rest of the field was already beginning to stretch with Chepkoech almost appearing impatient on the heels of the pace setter. It was beginning to look obvious that something special was about to happen. Chepkoech had run a world leading time at the Paris diamond league last month on 30th and perhaps that was the time she had realized that the world record was in her reach.
Alone in the second 1,000m split, Chepkoech ran even faster and continued to stretch her lead crossing the 2,000m mark in 5:49.89. Celliphine Chespol and Peruth Chemutai had tried to follow the hot pace crossing the mark in 5:56.3 and 5:58.9 respectively, but the two had to struggle in the last stages of the race as other athletes began to overtake them with Chemutai finishing 6th, but getting rewarded with a new personal best and a Ugandan national record time of 9:07.94. Chespol faded to 10th place finishing the race in 9:12.05.
Chepkoech’s pace remained consistent throughout the last 1,000m of the race. She didn’t even have to push harder with one lap to go as she already had enough seconds to spare, she could afford to celebrate with a few steps to the finish line after glancing at the clock and continued punching the air after crossing the finish line. She had broken the world record by a great margin, registering a new one of 8:44.32. Courtney Frerichs who had kept some more consistent splits in the race came in second with a new American record of 9:00.85 while Hyving Kiyeng who was overtaken by Frerichs with 600m to go took third in 9:04.41.
In another exciting race of the evening, Timothy Cheruiyot broke his own and set another new world leading time of 3:28.41 in the men’s 1500m race. Elijah Manangoi followed in 3:29.64 while Filip Ingebrigtsen took third in a new Norwegian national record of 3:30.01 and, as though to avoid some confusion about their names, Jakob Ingebrigtsen came in fourth with a personal 3:31.18.
The men’s 3000m steeplechase race had the usual three top athletes going after fast times. El Bakkali won the race in a rare sub 8 minute time of 7:58.15 which was a world leading and a personal best time for him. Evan Jager was slightly over the 8 minute barrier in 8:01.02 while Conseslus Kipruto was a distant third in 8:09.78
A world leading time and meeting record was also registered in the men’s 800m race with Botswana’s Nijel Amos bouncing back after a while to run 1:42 .14. In the women’s race, Caster Semenya also ran a meeting record of 1:54.60.