World record-holder David Rudisha remains unbeaten in the 800m at the Adidas Grand Prix. For his fourth straight appearance at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York on Saturday (13), the Kenyan had set himself a goal of running a 1:43 and setting the world leading mark.
Coming off a muscle spasm sustained in Ostrava two weeks ago, he was able to fulfil the first part of his agenda, but came just short of achieving the second one.
The pace maker carried Rudisha through the first lap in 50.10. Rudisha was ahead of the competition in a comfortable enough position not to go all out in the closing stages and ended up winning in 1:43.58, just 0.02 slower than Mohammed Aman’s world-leading time.
“I was cautious today. I started easier and I didn’t push too hard in the end,” said the Olympic champion. “Now it’s time to go back to Kenya for two more weeks of training.”
Behind Rudisha, there was a surprise runner-up. USA’s Boris Berian lowered his personal best by almost one-and-a-half seconds, from 1:45.30 to 1:43.84. The 22-year-old will now approach the US Championships as the fastest man in the country and one of the favourites for a team berth for the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse finished third in a European-leading mark of 1:43.88.
The pre-race favourite in the women’s 800m also confirmed her status. Ajee Wilson pleased the home crowd with a smooth race, leading from start to finish to win in 1:58.83, her second-fastest time of the season.
Experienced Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei upstaged world indoor champion Chanelle Price on the home stretch, taking second in 1:59.37, hear fastest time in almost a year. Price went away with a third-place finish and a personal best of 1:59.47.
Easy win for Pichardo but upstaged by pole vault battle
Triple jump world leader Pedro Pablo Pichardo was one of the headliners of the meeting. But his rivals didn’t challenge the Cuban enough to keep him in the sector for too long.
Just like Vitezslav Vesely in the javelin, Pichardo only made two attempts, and it was sufficient for the win. He produced two solid attempts, achieving 17.54m (-0.2m/s) in the first round and 17.56m (-2.5m/s) in the second round. Birthday boy Will Claye, who turned 24 today, placed second with 16.96m.
The women’s pole vault provided an exciting head-to-head competition between Brazil’s 2011 world champion Fabiana Murer and Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakoupolou.
After world leader and the home favourite Jenn Suhr bowed out at 4.64m, there were just these two athletes left in the competition.
Kyriakoupolou had to use all three attempts to clear 4.54m and 4.64m. But at 4.74m, one centimetre higher than her outdoor Greek record, she was spot-on, flying over the bar on her first try. Murer wasn’t as lucky, so the Brazilian decided to use her two remaining attempts at 4.80m.
The Greek accepted the challenge. She cleared the bar at the first time of asking, equalling the outright PB that set indoors earlier this year. Murer responded with a flawless attempt as well, setting a season’s best.
Unfortunately both athletes had no luck at 4.86m. Multiple failures on opening heights cost the Greek pole vaulter the victory – she lost to Murer on countback, conceding the Diamond Race lead in the process.
True and Willis provide the upset of the day
In hot and humid conditions, on the sunlit track of the Icahn stadium, no one in the men’s 5000m race wanted to push the pace too much, leaving the main business for the last lap.
The pre-race favourites, Kenya’s Thomas Longosiwa and Moses Kipsiro from Uganda, were in a good position all the way, controlling the lead, while USA’s Ben True stayed tucked closely behind them, waiting for a good moment to pounce.
With 150 metres to go, another athlete emerged with a finishing kick. It was New Zealand’s 1500m specialist Nick Willis, who finally found some space for a decisive manoeuvre and was trying to use his middle distance speed against the leaders. But True pulled off an impressive spurt over the last 50 meters to take the win in 13:29.48.
“I don’t race unless I think I could win,” said True. “You need that confidence when you toe the start line. In Zurich last year, the guys made at least four seconds up on me over the last 300 meters, so I try to move to the front sooner, but still have power for that kick.”
Just two weeks ago, True pulled off another upset in New York City, snatching victory from Kenya’s Stephen Sambu in a 10km road race in Central Park.
“I’ve been outkicked at the National Championships a few times before, which cost me team spots for international championships, so I’ve been definitely working on that,” said True. “But when Willis came up on me with 150m to go, I thought it was a done deal, he has a vicious kick. I’m glad I had a response to that.”
Willis finished second in 13:29.78, while Longosiwa faded to fourth. Eritrea’s Nguse Amlosom, the African 10,000m champion, caught him in the closing stages, clocking a personal best of 13:30.22.
After a late withdrawal of Diamond Race leader Virginia Nyambura, the 3000m steeplechase turned out to be a lonely affair for Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayalew. Towards the latter stages of the race, she managed to extend her lead to more than 50 meters. Ayalew clocked 9:25.26 and closed up on Nyambura in overall standings, she is now just three points behind.
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF