Not many athletes can boast of beating Genzebe Dibaba in the 5000m in recent years, but Kenya’s Hellen Obiri joined that exclusive class on Thursday evening as she ran an enthralling race to win the women’s 5000m at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
The Rio 2016 Silver medallist has been impressive this season, opening her Diamond League campaign with a then World Lead (WL) of 14:22.47, which she extended at the Golden Gala where she proved too strong for the rest of the field, racing to a NR of 14:18.37.
Many had expected Dibaba to make an attempt on her sister’s World Record (WR) as she was wont to in the past, but the Ethiopian was a shadow of herself as she eventually faded off, finishing a distant 6th in 14:41.55.
Obiri’s teammate Agnes Jebet Tirop raced to 2nd place with a Personal Best (PB) of 14:33.09, while Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey finished 3rd in 14:33.32, also a PB.
Reigning World Indoor Champion over the women’s 1500m, Sifan Hassan produced one of the most outstanding performances of the evening. The former European Champion was in impeccable form and was the only athlete at the competition to set a Meeting Record (MR).
Hassan overtook Olympic Champion Faith Kipyegon on the world standings as she stormed to a WL/MR of 3:56.22, as Kenya’s Winny Chebet and Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany were inspired to PBs of 3:59.16 and 3:59.30 respectively.
Reigning World Champion in the 200m Dafne Schippers finally secured her first victory in the 2017 Diamond League series in the 100m. The Dutchwoman, who has suffered several defeats from Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson in recent times, won the race in 10.99s, but not without some fight from Ivoirian ‘small but mighty’ sprinting sensation, Marie-Josee who followed her all the way.
Ta Lou clocked a time of 11..03s in 2nd place, while Michelle-Lee Ahye and Tianna Bartoletta returned times of 11.07s and 11.26s respectively.
Rio 2016 multiple medallist Andre De Grasse was smooth in the men’s 200m and crossed the finishing line ahead of the rest of the field in an SB of 20.01s. Former French record holder Christophe Lemaitre, and USA’s Ameer Webb followed in SBs of 20.29s and 20.33s.
USA’s Natasha Hastings was the woman to beat in the 400m as she eventually secured one over rival Novlene Williams-Mills who had denied her victory recently. The American clocked an SB of 50.52s to finish ahead of her Jamaican counterpart (51.04s), while OlhaZemlyak of Ukraine placed 3rd in 51.08s.
Botswana’s Lydia Jele, who is currently World No.3 with a time of 50.32s, ended her Diamond League debut in 6th position, clocking a time of 51.53s.
Her teammate and London 2012 Silver medallist in the men’s 800m, Nijel Amos suffered a mishap in the course of his first Diamond League outing of the season. Amos took a tumble during the race, which was a major setback as he eventually lost considerable ground, finishing a distant 11th in 1:48.49.
The race was won by Poland’s Adam Kszczot in 1:45.96, with Kipyegon Bett, and USA’s Donavan Brazier clocking 1:46.00 and 1:46.08 respectively.
The Rome Diamond League was a good outing for Rio 2016 GOLD medallist in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, Conseslus Kipruto. The 22-year old was unbeaten in the event all through the series in 2016, and won the Diamond Race.
He looked set to continue this dominance in 2017 by overcoming the threat posed by his much-taller Moroccan rival, Soufiane El Bakkali whose longer strides served as an advantage. However, the Kenyan sailed past to win with a WL of 8:04.63. El Bakkali’s efforts paid off as he followed in a PB of 8:05.17, while Jairus Kipchoge Birech finished 3rd in an SB of 8:07.84.
WR holder Aries Merritt upstaged the rest of the 110m Hurdles field to finish ahead of Orlando Ortega (13.17s) and Sergey Shubenkov (13.21s), after returning an SB of 13.13s.