It might not have been at the Rome Diamond League, but Almaz Ayana has consistently shown that she will soon break the 5000m World Record (WR), running a scorching race to win on Thursday at the eternal city.
Ayana completely destroyed the field, running the second fastest time in history as she clocked 14:12.59, a Meet Record (MR), Diamond League Record (DLR) and World Lead (WL) that got her the victory. She was marginally close to erasing Tirunesh Dibaba’s eight-year WR of 14:11.15, set in Oslo.
It was the manner she ran the race that got spectators on their feets roaring and cheering her in an attempt to push her to smash the WR. However it was a tough ask for the Ethiopian who had gone through almost seven laps without a pacemaker, toiling so hard as it took the sting away from her.
To underline how close she was, she lost the record by 01.44, a little under two seconds, and one could see that it’s just a matter of time for her to match and better the WR.
While she was attacking the WR, she left others in her wake, opening a yawning gap that saw others playing catch up even after the third lap. Mercy Cherono who finished 2nd ran a Personal Best of 14:33.95 with Jelagat Kibiwot running a time of 14:34.39 to finish 3rd. There is no doubt that come the Rio Olympics, Ayana could be racing against herself as she attacks the WR, who knows she could even achieve that goal before August.
Another impressive performance of the evening came from the women’s 800m, with Caster Semenya putting out another dominant win with a WL of 1:56.64. Semenya as usual timed her race to perfection, going past Francine Niyonsaba who finished 2nd in 1:58.20 and Lynsey Sharp 3rd clocking 1:59.03.
Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Janeive Russell ran her third PB in 2016, storming to a WL in the women’s 400mH to win in 53.96s. South Africa’s Wenda Theron Nel finished 2nd in 54.61s, with Elidh Doyle 3rd in 54.81s.
In the men’s 400m, world champion Wayde Van Niekerk ran an exquisite race, taking full control to beat Bralon Taplin who was lurking just behind him as he finished with a time of 44.19s. Van Niekerk came into the race on the back of an SB of 44.11s, and with LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James running so well, there is no room for an error this year. Taplin finished 2nd in the race with a time of 44.43s, and Isaac Makwala 3rd in 44.85s.
The women’s 100m was another entertaining race, with Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson running an SB as she pushed harder in the last 20m to claw victory away from English Gardner in 10.87s. Gardner who last week ran 10.80s in Eugene finished 2nd in 10.92s, as Barbara Pierre finished 3rd in 11.13s
Justin Gatlin yet again ran another sub 10s, winning the men’s 100m with an SB of 9.93s. However, he almost got beaten by Ameer Webb who was inches away in 2nd with 9.94s. Jimmy Vicaut finished 3rd in 9.99s.
Webb had earlier won the men’s 200m, his second victory in that event in the Diamond League, clocking 20.04s to move top on the Diamond race table. Aaron Brown finished 2nd with 20.24s with Alonso Edward 3rd in 20.25s.
Cuban-born Spanish athlete Orlando Ortega had to recover from a poor start and win the men’s 110mH in 13.22s with Pascal Martinot-Largarde finishing 2nd in 13.29s and Andrew Pozzi 3rd with 13.37s.
While Kenya’s Elijah Manangoi had to shake off the late challenge of Ryan Gregson to win the men’s 1500m in 3:33.96. Robert Biwott was 2nd in 3:34.21 with Gregson fading to 3rd in 3:34.27.
Yet again Kenya’s Conselus Kipruto showed that he is a man in form, running a WL to win the men’s Steeplechase in 8:01.41. His compatriot, Jairus Birech was 2nd in 8:11.39 and Paul Koech 3rd in 8:14.46.
Action will now shift to the Birmingham Diamond League on Sunday, and as the curtain fell on Rome Diamond League, many will remember how close Ayana was to the women’s 5000m WR.
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Photo Credit: athleticsweekly.com