Laura Muir and Greg Rutherford, two Britons of differing experience, produced flourishing victories at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo on Thursday (11).
If the performance of the Olympic, European and Commonwealth long jump champion, achieved with a best of 8.25m, was not unexpected, the same could certainly not be said of the 22-year-old Scot whose startling front-running effort initially puzzled and eventually panicked a women’s 1500m field packed with world class talent at the Exxon Mobil Bislett Games.
Contrary to all expectation, Muir’s was the performance of the meeting.
Among her opponents were four who had run faster than her personal best of 4:00.07, including Sweden’s world indoor and outdoor champion Abeba Aregawi, who has run 3:56.54, and Kenyan record-holder Faith Kipyegon, who has a best of 3:56.98.
Muir, who studies veterinary medicine at Glasgow University, went up with the pacemakers from the start, and pushed on after they dropped out.
By the bell she had a lead of almost 40 metres, with the rest of the field, led by Kipyegon, waking up to the idea that they might just have made a horrible misjudgement.
The crowd rose to Muir as she faltered a little in the back straight, her lead narrowing to about 20 metres, but she found extra fortitude around the final bend and was roared home in a time of 4:00.39 with Kipyegon just failing to reel her in as she took second in 4:00.94.
“I heard them coming as the crowd got louder,” Muir said. “But I managed to keep on running and won my first ever Diamond League. I think this is the biggest win of my career. I want to run fast so I was with the pacemakers and the others did not follow. I was aware I was alone but the crowd supported me a lot.”
After effectively running through his first effort, Rutherford – whose strength inures him to cold and windy conditions – produced a second-round effort of 8.16m, an immediate response to the 8.04m with which Michael Hartfield of the United States had taken the lead.
And when the Briton advanced to 8.25m in the third round, he stepped out of the competition in order not to risk overstretching himself – although he remained ready to rejoin the fray if necessary.
The necessity was avoided, as Hartfield’s effort remained the best of the rest, and Russia’s world champion Aleksandr Menkov, still searching for his best form, took third place with 8.00m, seven centimetres ahead of the Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor.
“I jumped on Sunday in Birmingham and so I wanted to monitor my body and rest after 8.25m,” Rutherford said. “I was feeling that might be good to win, but there were lots of other jumpers who could attack my position so I stayed warm and was ready if something happened.
“Now I have three good weeks of training in front of me. So far I have been very satisfied with my season.”
The expected battle between Kenya’s old and new masters of the 3000m steeplechase, respectively Ezekiel Kemboi and Jairus Birech, never came to pass as the younger man, world No.1 last year, won with ease in 8:05.63, while the double Olympic and triple world champion struggled home 10th in 8:30.07 before leaving the track holding his side.
Jasmin Stowers, who began the season with a time of 12.35 that stands head of this year’s 100m hurdles world list, came to grief at the previous two IAAF Diamond League meetings, falling in Rome and then being disqualified for a false start in Birmingham.
But she put those misfortunes behind her as she earned victory in 12.84, finishing a fraction ahead of her US colleague, world champion Brianna Rollins, who was given the same time.
“We felt the wind,” said Stowers. “It was a rough race for me. But I managed after Birmingham and paid attention to my start and technique. Obviously I’m the world leader but I still need to prove it and the next possibility will be at the US Trials.”
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF