The Herculis Monaco meeting is one of our favorite meets.
Stuart Weir begins his coverage of the meet (check out RunBlogRun at @twitter.com on our photo galleries), and gives us an intro plus some stories of highs and lows of the meet. Watch his coverage today and tomorrow. We are covering it from California with Stuart in England and the event in Monaco. NIne hour time difference challenges some things, but not track meet coverage!
Winning the 200m in 22.23 was @Hey_ItsShaunae, @MeetingHerculis, 9 July 2021, photo: #DiamondLeague AG, @stuartweir, #runblogrun, #runningnetwork, #larryeder, @euroathletics, @britathletics, @scotathletics, @worldathletics, @WCHoregon22, @tokyo2020, @caltrackrn, @coachathletics pic.twitter.com/DUbJaX2Mfn
— RunBlogRun (@RunBlogRun) July 9, 2021
The Herculis in Monaco is always a magical event. Monte Carlo and Monaco is an enchanting location. It is a royal occasion, with Prince Albert always present. The track is fast. The weather is good. On this occasion the crowd was limited to 8,000 – but then that will be 8,000 more than at the Olympics.
There were races of the highest quality. There was high drama. There was chaos. There was something for everyone. Performances ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. There were athletes who underlined their potential for Tokyo but others who seemed to undermine theirs.
The international program opened with Karsten Warholm winning the 400 hurdles in 47.08, a phenomenal time, but the event media team asked him afterward why he had not broken the world record! We have come to expect it. Warholm’s sensible answer was that every time he runs he feels pressure to put on a good performance but that he cannot accept the pressure of being expected to break the world record every time.
There were Kenyan victories in the 1500s. Faith Kipyegon’s victory in her duel with Sifan Hassan – see separate post – made her a clear favorite for gold in Tokyo. Timothy Cheruiyot’s win in the men’s race added to the frustration that he will not be running in the Olympics. That Jakob Ingebrigtsen was only third along with the news that he had been ill provided evidence that perhaps he is human after all.
If you wanted high drama then the two 3000 m steeplechase is provided it. Hyvin Kiyeng won the women’s race. As the athletes took the water jump for the last time Emma Coburn was threatening the Kenyan when Coburn tripped and fell into the water. She picked herself up to finish fourth but by then Kiyeng was long gone. It must have been incredibly frustrating for Coburn who looked the stronger on that last lap and was even in with a chance of breaking nine minutes.
Benjamin Kigen was leading the men’s steeplechase race when he heard the bell. He increased his speed for the last lap and started sprinting for the line. The problem was that it was only when he got to the line that he realized that the officials had rung the bell a lap too nearly and he still had 400 m to run. Kigen was the clear winner of the 2600m steeplechase but by the time he reached 3000, he was a spent force, coming in seventh.
Another chapter for my future book on the great disasters in the sport – like Oslo putting some of the steeplechase barriers at men’s height in the women’s race or Jess Ennis’ world record in Manchester in the rarely run 100m with nine hurdles race! It just reinforces how important the officials are and how well they perform week in week out and her rare this kind of error is. That said, it is hard not to feel a lot of sympathy for Kigen, in control of the race until the officials confused him.
In the women’s 200, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce started like a rocket – a pocket-rocket – and seemed to have the race sewn up. But she tied up over the final 40 m and was caught both by Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Marie-Josee Ta Lou. I’m not sure how much one can read into that other than to be convinced that the women’s sprints in Tokyo are as intriguing as they are wide open.