The Paris Diamond League meet led to a little more in the way of the fast times and record challenging performances you would expect in rabbited races immediately after the Olympics. Saturday in Paris, the rabbits did their jobs and the fast times followed.
Of the six races we previewed prior to the meet, Jeff has already provided instant recaps of the women's 400m and the men's 800m, so, if you want to hind out about what happened in them, you'll want to check out his work by means of the hyperlinked text above.
Men's 400m Hurdles
Kerron Clement was the prohibitive favorite entering this one, so much so in my eyes, that I almost didn’t even bother to preview the event. What’s the point of doing that for an event with a seemingly obvious conclusion? Well, instead of Clement winning, it was last year’s World Champion Nicholas Bett of Kenya who took it home. Clement was in the lead heading into the final two hurdles, but faltered a bit over the second-to-last hurdle, which allowed Bett to seize the lead. Copello nearly had enough to overtake Clement in the last 30 meters.
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
Part of the fun of making predictions in sports is that, the vast majority of the time, you would probably have done better picking random athletes or teams instead of the logical and more time-intensive process you instead employed. But, in the Saturday’s women’s steeple, we mostly nailed it. Here’s what we wrote:
[Heat] can always be a factor in longer races, but, with four clear tiers in this race, it would have to be a major factor to shake things up. For reference, that hierarchy is as follows:
Tier One: Jebet
Tier Two: Kiyeng
Tier Three: Coburn
Tier Four: Everyone else.
...[Coburn’s] proven to some extent that she can still race well in the heat, but we’re skeptical that will be enough to vault her past Jebet and Kiyeng.
...Jebet should be fine off of [the rabbited pace] as she ran within a second of the World Record in the event. Off a faster pace (she went out in 3:05 for 1000m in Rio), look for her to possibly make a run at 8:58.81.
That, more or less, described the outcome of the event. Jebet wore down Kiyeng over the race at World Record pace and no one else ever even really tried to challenge them. Coburn finished in third, but a little closer to Beatrice Chepkoech than we would have foretold. Still, for once we did well, and we’re going to take that.
Our predictions here were more of a true mixed bag, and, going sentence-by-sentence through the final paragraph of that preview offers a good lens for recapping the race.
“After Kipyegon, the presence of a rabbit could shake things up from how they turned out in Rio.”
Early on, that became relatively clear, as the fast pace took away the legitimacy of Jenny Simpson’s tactical threat at finishing near the top. It was Kipyegon, Hassan, and Muir, which doesn’t resemble all that much how Rio started or finished.
“If the race does turn out to be fast, that could spell trouble for Americans Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury, who finished third and fourth in Rio, but likely benefited from the tactics of the race.”
This couldn’t have been less on the mark. Despite a fast race that went on to produce a British National Record in the event, Rowbury and Simpson finished fourth and sixth, respectively, which, in the grand scheme isn’t a huge dropoff from their performances in Rio. Rowbury finished fourth in both.
“If it’s fast, look for Laura Muir to stick with the pace like she did back in the mile in Birmingham earlier this season. She’s unlikely to challenge Kipyegon, but has shown both a willingness and an ability to run well on a fast early pace.”
HAHAHAHA. The first part was right—Muir sure did stick on to an early fast pace, but the second part was dead wrong. Not only did Muir challenge Kipyegon, but she beat her handily after wearing her down from around 1100-1300 meters to eventually open up a gap that extended over a second by the finish. Muir seems to race better off a fast early pace, and she got it today. Her time of 3:55.22 is both a National Record and the new world leading time on the season.
Women’s 100m Hurdles
With Shakira Nelvis scratching from the race, the American Mount Rushmore was off the table, but, surprisingly, not even the sweep happened. Americans went 1-2-4, which Kendra Harrison getting the win in, for her, a pedestrian 12.44. Harper-Nelson outleaned Great Britain’s Cindy Ofili for second. The two had been running even with each other and Stowers for the first 70-80 meters before Stowers fell off their pace and had to settle for fourth and lose out on another American 1-2-3 in the 100m hurdles.
The time results make this look close, but the race came down to two men in Abdelaati Iguider and Yomif Kejelcha. With 800m (4-second lead)—and, hell, even 400m to go (3-second lead)—it looked like Iguider had it on lockdown, until Kejelcha, with his loping stride, made a move starting with about 300-250m to go, to close the gap. He made the pass with only about 100 to go, but opened up a gap immediately to win in 7:28.19, which is not only the first sub-7:30 performance outdoors since 2011, but also the an under-20 world record. Iguider was almost passed in the final meters by a surging Hagos Gebrhiwet and Ryan Hill, but managed to keep his hold on second place. All three ran 7:30. Paul Chelimo finished a bit back in 7:38.98 for eighth place, capping a wildly successful season with a more-than-respectable performance.
Ryan Hill’s fourth place time of 7:30.93 made him the 3rd-fastest American ever over 3000m and less than two seconds behind Bernard Lagat’s American Record of 7:29.00 from 2010.