This is the second column of Deji’s Doodles, one of our most popular columns. Deji writes on each week, discussing some of the amazing performances of the week before and news of the athletics world!
Kiplimo reigns supreme in Bathurst, Gidey looks jaded as she falters, while Girma burns up the track with a newly-minted world record over the 3000m
The last week has brought so many thrills in the track world with it, culminating with a breathtaking World Cross country championship in Bathurst. Lamecha Girma returned to indoor racing with a bang as he took down a 23-year-old record in Lieven. Jacob Kiplimo came of age with a fine piece of running despite the frosty conditions in Australia Gidey came within whiskers of a historic win.
The incredibly fast race of Lamecha Girma
Kenenisa Bekele once opined that Kenya’s Daniel Komen’s Indoor 3000m record of 7:24.90 was the Mount Everest of World records. For one of the greats like Bekele to give such remarks about this record, it all but makes the recent feat of Lamecha Girma taking the record by a second more appreciated.
Girma, who has one Olympic and two world silver medals in the 3000m steeplechase, had this golden moment at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais when he lowered Komen’s record to 7:23.81. The Ethiopian brought an unrivaled speed, strength, and relaxation to this race that one is tempted to think he is a reincarnate of Komen.
And it wasn’t easy. Unlike Komen, who dominated for an almost three years stretch in the late nighties, Girma predominantly has been a steeplechase force for the most part of his career, but this fast race against an incredible lineup that included Mohammed Katir, Jacob Krop, and Grant Fisher did push him to the limit.
It was a huge moment for Girma as it marks the first time in history that one of Komen’s 3000m world records had officially fallen. This surely puts him in the right stead as he hopes to finally dethrone his arc nemesis Soufiane El Bakkali going into the outdoor season over the steeplechase.
Michael Norman drops down to 100m. Will he sink or swim?
The US sprinter is one of the few versatile and gifted sprinters on the grid. A 9.86 Personal Best in the 100m, 19.70 in the 200m, and 43.45s in the 400m. Aside from the 100m, he easily ranks in the Top 10 of all time for the 200m and 400m. That’s how good he is.
Just recently, he announced that he will be focusing on the 100m for this year, ditching the 400m in the process (an event in which he is the reigning world champion). There are a couple of points to unravel from this. Top of the bunch has to be the ever-increasing competition of the men’s 100m in the United States and the world.
Fred Kerley is the World Champion, Marvin Bracy is the World Silver medalist, and Trayvon Bromell is the world Bronze medalist are all fixed on getting back on the podium in Budapest this year. Then there is the former world champion Christian Coleman who is on a revenge mission after his title was snagged off him on home soil. And yes, there is the 200m show boy Noah Lyles who is on a mission to get to the level the great Usain Bolt reached by adding the 100m world title to his collection.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Only three of these lots can make the US team. Afterward, they still have to contend against the likes of the Olympic Champion Marcel Jacobs, African Champion Ferdinand Omanyala, and the fast-rising Jamaican Oblique Seville.
Make no mistake, Norman is a very talented sprinter, and this is the perfect time for him to make such a switch as he builds up towards the summer and Paris Olympics. There has been precedent too. Usain Bolt is the perfect example, but he was a freak of nature. Then there is Fred Kerley, who used to ruffle feathers with Norman in the 400m before dropping down to become the world champion in the 100m.
Still, Norman isn’t one to back out from such competition. The 100m surely has more allure than the 400m, and if he is going to do something special over the distance, endurance will be needed.
Jacob Kiplimo is the man of the moment, and he’s savoring it
There is no stopping Jacob Kiplimo at the moment. The 22-year-old Ugandan is the real deal, and there is no stopping him. After playing second fiddle to his compatriot Joshua Cheptegei in the world cross country championships senior men’s race in Aarhus four years ago, despite still only being 18 years old at the time.
Now fully grown, the boy is in a league of his own. Kiplimo started competing internationally when he was 15 years old, and by the time he clocked twenty, he had represented his country at the Olympics, world championships, and the Commonwealth Games. Although he has lived under the shadows of Cheptegei, this win in Bathurst takes him into a different gear heading into the outdoor season.
Kiplimo’s ability to combine his raw speed, strength, and endurance while navigating a very difficult and experienced field in races stands him tall. After his double gold-winning feat at the Commonwealth Games last August, there is a distinct possibility of him replicating it in Budapest this summer.
Ferdinand Omanyala seems to be doing too much despite his win over Marcel Jacobs
Very rarely does Marcel Jacobs lose a race. However, if one sprinter on the circuit isn’t scared of going for the juggernaut in big races, it has to be Ferdinand Omanyala. His story in the last few years has been well told, and although he started his career a tad late, his achievements in the last two years speak enough volumes about how good the Kenyan is.
However, there is a growing feeling that he isn’t managing his body well. Granted, he has put up fabulous races in the indoor season, with the pinnacle coming through when he beat Jacobs in Lievin. 6.54s was the time, a new Personal Best and National Record.
In the grand scheme of things, the outdoor season really matters. It might be too early to say he’s burning himself out with the eight races he has run this season (including heats and final), but we’ve been here before. It’s hard to see why he goes all out indoors except for the fact he wants to make more money.
Gidey is very much jaded as seen with her performance in Bathurst
Letesenbet Gidey is the ultimate all-around distance runner. Her range of skill sets is unmatched by her competitors as she holds the world record over the half-marathon, 15km, 10,000m, and 5000m. The Ethiopian has achieved all these at the age of 24, including winning multiple medals in world championships and the Olympics.
Also, Gidey made her marathon debut in Valencia last fall, becoming the fastest-ever debutant in history over the 42km course. But it seems she’s putting her body through hell, and it’s packing up, as seen by her fall at the world cross country championships in Bathurst, Australia.
In the race’s final stages, Gidey looked over her shoulder three times at surging Kenyan Beatrice Chebet in the final 100 meters of the 10km race, grimaced, slowed, and then collapsed or tripped on the bumpy terrain before being helped up to cross the finish line.
Most of the long-distance greats have had progressions from the Cross Country, track, and the road, but Gidey has mixed them all. Despite her ridiculous talent, the body is not a machine. It has to rest.
2023 Deji’s Doodles:
2023 Deji’s Doodles, #1: Bromell romps to sixth-all time in indoor 60m, Ofili breaks five records and Bol proved her prowess for the second week running!