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2008 Paris Golden League Recap
*IAAF Recap

It was an entertaining meet in Paris as the Paris Golden League Meet celebrated its 10th anniversary. Dayron Robles ran 12.88 in the hurdles, Jeremy Wariner crushed LaShawn Merritt for the first time in 2008, American Shannon Rowbury ran 4:00.33 and Blanka Vlašic and Pamela Jelimo remained in the Golden League Jackpot hunt.

Women's 1,500: Shannon Rowbury 4:00.33!!!!
The story of the women's 1,500 was American Shannon Rowbury running a new personal best 4:00.33 to grab second in Paris, while giving last year's world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal a run for the money.

The rabbits did a great job of setting the pace, running even 64-second laps to go through 800 in 2:08. Rowbury established herself near the front of the race right from the outset. She was in 5th behind the rabbits for most of the race before moving up. Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal was directly in front of her. When the race transitioned from a paced affair into a competition, Jamal and Rowbury were clearly the top two runners in the field. Both runners closed well, running 60+ for their final circuits. Though Rowbury was close time-wise, she never really threatened Jamal. Thanks to the nice rabbiting and the pressure of Rowbury, Jamal was rewarded with her first sub-4:00 clocking of the year (3:59.99).

Stephanie Twell of Great Britain ducked under the A standard for the first time this year with a 4:05.83 after winning World Juniors just last week. More importantly, her personal best is now better than both the 2nd and 3rd placers at the British Trials, 2nd placer Susan Scott (4:07.00) and 3rd placer Hannah England (4:06.13). Barring a noticeable improvement from England and Scott, it seems to us (knowing little of how the British do it) that Twell will end up in Beijing. The question now becomes who is the 3rd British 1,500 runner - England or Scott? Scott smoked England at the Trials, so it seems like the NCAA champion England will be left off the team.

Women's 1,500 Results

1 Maryam Yusuf Jamal BRN 3:59.99 20
2 Shannon Rowbury USA 4:00.33 16
3 Daniela Yordanova BUL 4:02.40 14
4 Sarah Jamieson AUS 4:02.94 12
5 Viola Kibiwot KEN 4:04.17 10
6 Irene Jelagat KEN 4:04.59 8
7 Gelete Burka ETH 4:05.25 6
8 Stephanie Twell GBR 4:05.83 4
9 Malindi Elmore CAN 4:07.07 3
10 Iryna Lishchynska UKR 4:08.05 3
11 Hilary Stellingwerff CAN 4:14.97 3

Diane Cummins CAN DNF

Faith Macharia KEN DNF

*Shannon Rowbury Sub-4?
*How soon will Rowbury be running faster than Webb?

Men's 400: Wariner Smokes Merritt
Rivalries are great for all sports, not just track and field. Roger Federer dominating men's tennis for years was a thing of beauty but seeing him battle with Rafa Nadal makes things much more compelling.

The same is true for Jeremy Wariner and the 400m. Watching him win meet after meet had gotten a bit boring. This year, seeing a worthy rival arise in LaShawn Merritt and to see the two produce world class performance after world class performance has been fascinating.

Round 4 of Merritt vs. Wariner took place today. The first two, including the US title, had gone to Merritt. In round 3 last week in Rome, Wariner got the narrowest of wins (.01) but while he won for the first time, many were surprised that Wariner had nearly been walked down in the homestretch. Today, the "old," nearly unbeatable Jeremy Wariner showed up and put on a show. He had the lead coming into the homestretch and, instead of his lead evaporating, it just got bigger and bigger. In the end, Wariner had finished with a seasonal best and world-leading 43.86, the 4th fastest time of his career.

Wariner looked very, very good.

Merritt settled for a well-beaten 2nd in 44.35 as Christopher Brown was third in 44.76. If that order of finish seems familiar, it should, as that's the way the 2007 World Championships ended.

Full results below. An interesting question to ponder from looking at the results is, "Should Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt work on their starts as they are giving away .1 at the start?"

Rank Athlete Nation Result Reaction time
1 WARINER, Jeremy USA MR,WL 43.86 0.309
2 MERRITT, LaShawn USA  44.35 0.303
3 BROWN, Christopher BAH  44.76 0.210
4 CHRISTOPHER, Tyler CAN  45.08 0.227
5 DJHONE, Leslie FRA  45.43 0.226
6 WITHERSPOON, Reggie USA  45.93 0.246
7 FILLON, Nicolas FRA PB 46.46 0.177
8 EL HAOUZY, Abderahim FRA  46.81 0.226

Women's 800: Pamela Jelimo Show Continues, But Will it Be Thwarted by the Russians?
The Pamela Jelimo show continued in Paris today.

One of just two left in the running for the Golden Jackpot (Blanka Vlasic, who easily won the HJ, is the other), Jelimo did exactly what she's done every time she's raced the 800 in her life - absolutely crush the field. Senegal's Amy Mbacke Thiam did a better job of rabbiting this week as compared to Berlin but still proved to not quite be up to the task of rabbiting Jelimo properly. Thiam hit 400 in 55.71 but was unable to stay ahead of Jelimo on the turn and Jelimo was forced to go around her on that 100 and the pace slowed significantly. Once in the clear, Jelimo absolutely exploded at the 500 point (this is starting to be her signature move) and passed 600 in 1:25.16. She kept running hard all the way home and was rewarded with a new PR of 1:54.97, which also is a new Kenyan and African record as well as world junior record.

The 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th place finishers in the field all set PRs and the 3rd placer, last year's World Champion, Janeth Jepkosgei, ran a seasonal best but none of them finished within 3.5 seconds of Jelimo.

Despite her sensational performance, there was some bad news for Jelimo. Coming into the Paris meet, it looked like she was a shoe-in for the Olympic gold. Well, that sentiment changed very quickly as the Russian champs certainly raised a lot of eyebrows, with Yelena Soboleva scorching the fastest time since 1997 with a 1:54.82, proving that she's going to be a force to be reckoned with at 800 and 1,500 in the Olympics (assuming she runs both). Indoors, Soboleva ran a world-leading 1:56.49 in the 800 before setting a world indoor record of 3:57.71 at the World Champs in the 1,500.

The entire women's 800 at Russian champs was insane as 4 people ran 1:56.67 or better.

Yelena Soboleva Runs 1:54.85 in 800
*Russian Champs Results

Rank Athlete Nation Result
1 JELIMO, Pamela KEN AR,MR,WJR 1:54.97
2 KLOCOVA, Lucia SVK PB 1:58.51
3 JEPKOSGEI, Janeth KEN SB 1:58.52
4 ROSTKOWSKA, Anna POL PB 1:58.72
5 GUEGAN, Elodie FRA PB 1:58.93
6 MEADOWS, Jennifer GBR PB 1:59.11
7 MUTOLA, Maria Delourdes MOZ  1:59.51
8 LEWIS, Tamsyn AUS  2:00.94
  THIAM, Amy Mbacke SEN  DNF

Women's 5,000: Lucy Kabuu Emerging as a Force
This race was interesting as only six athletes toed the line and one of them was the rabbit (Australia's Georgie Clarke), as the top Ethiopian runners apparently had been ordered home by the Ethiopian federation. The entrants were as follows:

Athlete Country PB
EJIGU Sentayehu ETH 14:35.18 15:06.37
JEPLETING CHERONO Priscah KEN 14.35.30 14:45.12
KIBET Sylvia Chibiwott KEN 14.57.37 15:05.09
RHINES Jennifer USA 14.54.29 14.54.29
WANGUI KABUU Lucy KEN 14.33.49 14.33.49

The conditions in Paris were decent for 5k running as the temperature was only 70 degrees and the wind was light (3 mph). Clarke took the field out at an honest pace of 2:54 for 1k and 5:51 for 2k and as would be expected, only the Africans were able to stick with it. The pace was just too hot for American Jen Rhines.

By 3k (8:49), it was down to only two runners: Kenyans Lucy Kabuu (her agent Ricky Simms wrote us to say although she is often listed as Lucy Wangui in the results her last name is Kabuu and she should be referred to as Lucy Kabuu) and Priscah Jepleting Cherono - a rematch of the Kenyan Trials when Cherono got the win over Kabuu. But at the Kenyan Trials, the matchup wasn't a totally fair one as Kabuu was doubling back after winning the 10k. By 4k (11:45.01), it was down to just one, as from 1,200 to 800 remaining, Kabuu opened things up in a big fashion with a powerful 67 lap that absolutely destroyed Cherono, the bronze medallist in the 5k last year at Worlds. 

Within a lap-and-a-half, Kabuu's lead had grown to more than 50 meters and it would continue to grow all the way to the finish as Kabuu would run the penultimate lap in 70 and the last lap in 69 to finish in a very impressive new meet record time of 14:38.47, well ahead of Cherono's 14:58.96. American Jen Rhines struggled and finished 4th in 15:11.79.

Kabuu certainly looked like a future Olympic medal winner today with a fine last kilometer of 2:53. It's too bad Ethiopia's big guns pulled out at the last minute, but we're sure there will be a nice matchup eventually at the Olympics.

If you're someone hoping that a non-African (Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan or Kim Smith) might find a way to win a medal in Beijing, today's race certainly will make you realize how hard that is going to be.

1 WANGUI KABUU, Lucy KEN MR 14:38.47
2 JEPLETING CHERONO, Prisca KEN  14:58.96
3 KIBET, Sylviah KEN  15:09.23
4 RHINES, Jennifer USA  15:11.79
5 EJIGU, Sentayehu ETH  15:18.66
  CLARKE, Georgie AUS  DNF

Men's 110 Hurdles: Dayon Robles Sensational
The great British announcers on the Internet telecast of the meet were debating prior to this race who would be the Olympic favorite in this event in Beijing. No offense meant to Liu Xiang, but after the result today, we doubt anyone who watched this race would assign the favorite's role to anyone but Dayron Robles.

Robles was simply sensational once again as he put on a hurdling clinic and absolutely destroyed a crack field which included Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell and 2005 World Champion Ladji Doucoure. Robles had the lead by the first hurdle and his margin would grow to a ridiculous size by the end of the race. In contrast to most of the other competitors, Robles wasn't hitting hurdles; he was flying over them. It was almost as if they weren't really there. Robles must have sensed he was having a remarkable performance and a go at his own world record as he ran hard all the way through the tape and even leaned at the line, despite the fact that he had a huge lead. The only thing "wrong" with his performance was that he seemed to lean a bit too early, which might have kept him from tying or surpassing his WR. He at least equalled Xiang's old world record of 12.88. Trammell ended up 2nd in 13.19, a whopping .31 behind Robles.

All we can say about the performance of Robles is that it was unbelievable.

If you're a hurdling fan, find a replay of this race and watch it.
Rank Athlete Nation Result Reaction time
1 ROBLES, Dayron CUB MR 12.88 0.169
2 TRAMMELL, Terrence USA  13.19 0.186
3 HICKS, Antwon USA  13.27 0.180
4 DOUCOURE, Ladji FRA SB 13.37 0.168
5 MERRITT, Aries USA  13.41 0.180
6 COCO-VILOIN, Samuel FRA  13.63 0.182
  PAYNE, David USA  DQ 0.170

Men's 3k: Edwin Soi Wins Another Tactical Race
The gun went off and it looked like the guys in this race came to run. Within a lap, they were already running single file as the first 400 was covered in 59+, with former Arkansas Razorback Alistair Cragg in 3rd. But the pace soon slowed, as 1k was passed in 2:32 and 2k was reached in 5:06. The world leader of 7:32 wasn't going to happen. Instead, we were going to get something much more compelling - a real race. The runners gathered themselves for a furious finish as the 3rd-to-last lap and 2nd-to-last lap were covered in 62.3 each. At the bell, a slew of guys were still bunched together and in the hunt. Cragg was in 5th at this point, which was actually his lowest place of the entire race.

Leading at the bell was Kenya's Edwin Soi, who came into the race in fine form, having won the Kenyan Trials at 5k in very impressive fashion (by almost three full seconds) on July 4th. However, this race certainly wasn't a repeat of the Kenyan Trials as Soi had to fight all the way to the line to hold off a spirited challenge from fellow Kenyan Joseph Ebuya. In the end, a 54.97 closer gave Soi a slim victory in 7:36.71 to Ebuya's 7:36.84. 

Ebuya's story is incredible (he's from a tribe in Kenya none of the runners come from, lived in total poverty, and just started running with the guys who ran by him every day) and he hopes to share it with you at some point. Ebuya was actually winning the Kenyan Trials at 5k with 2 laps to go and just stepped off the track. Nonetheless, his future looks very, very bright as he is an untapped talent.

As for Soi, it's clear that he's got a lethal kick. Bernard Lagat watch out. Soi last year won both the 3k and 5k with blistering last laps at the World Athletics Final.

1 SOI, Edwin KEN  7:36.71
2 EBUYA, Joseph KEN SB 7:36.84
3 CHEBII, Abraham KEN SB 7:37.51
4 CRAGG, Alistair IRL EL 7:38.21
5 KIPTOO, Mark KEN SB 7:38.98
6 SONGOK, Boniface KEN SB 7:39.64
7 WARGA, Sahle ETH PB 7:41.05
8 WONDIMU, Mulugeta ETH  7:42.99
9 KOSGEI, Joseph KEN  7:43.04
10 ZERGUELAINE, Anter ALG PB 7:47.68
11 KHADAR, Samir ALG PB 7:48.20
12 DISI, Dieudonne RWA PB 7:50.81
13 LONGOSIWA, Thomas KEN  7:51.92
  KIPTUM, Bernard KEN  DNF
  KOMEN, Jonathan KEN  DNF

Men's 1,500: Choge Over Kiprop Again, Webb Doesn't Show to Defend His Title

We were eagerly waiting all afternoon for this race to get started and were disappointed to see the last minute pullouts from a couple of former Michigan Wolverines - defending meet champion Alan Webb and New Zealand's Nick Willis. Webb clearly isn't in top form and Willis must be experiencing difficulty after having his wisdom teeth removed (how is that for an injury in an Olympic year?). Their pullouts certainly took some of the excitement away from this race.

Nonetheless, a great field was assembled, as 9 men in the field of 11 had broken 3:33 according to the announcers. No surprise there; only the world's best normaly toe the line in Paris. The rabbit took the field through 400 in 54.83, 800 in 1:53.7 and 1,200 in 2:52.23. With 300 to go, the winner of the Kenyan Trials, Augustine Choge, held the lead. The Trials runner-up and 4th placer at last year's Worlds, Asbel Kiprop, who had been positioned well in the top 4 the whole race, moved up to 2nd but was sort of tripped a bit and lost ground and back to 3rd. 

Certainly losing his stride didn't help Kiprop, but quite honestly, we don't think it would have mattered. Choge was the better man at the Kenyan Trials two weeks ago and he was the better man today as he got the win in 3:32.40 thanks to a 54.74 last 400. Kiprop rallied in the last 100 to get 2nd but Choge was the clear winner. Ali Belal Mansoor finished 3rd in a seasonal best 3:33.12.

Rank Athlete Nation Result
1 CHOGE, Augustine KEN  3:32.40
2 KIPROP, Asbel KEN  3:32.78
3 ALI BELAL, Mansoor BRN SB 3:33.12
4 BOUKENSA, Tarek ALG  3:33.57
5 KORIR, Shadrack KEN  3:33.93
6 SIMOTWO, Suleiman Kipses KEN  3:34.49
7 RONO, Geoffrey KEN  3:34.80
8 YEMMOUNI, Mounir FRA SB 3:35.59
9 KOWAL, Yoann FRA PB 3:35.95
  KIMUTAI, Philemon KEN  DNF
  WILLIS, Nicholas NZL  DNS

Women's High Jump: Blanka Stays Perfect
Blanka Vlašic
stayed alive in the Golden League Jackpot race. She had an "off" day, only clearing 2.01, but it was good enough for her 33rd straight win in the high jump.

High Jump - Women
1 Vlašic , Blanka CRO 2.01 20
2 Friedrich , Ariane GER 1.97 16
3 Hellebaut , Tia BEL 1.97 14
4 Aitova , Marina KAZ 1.94 12
5 Di Martino , Antonietta ITA 1.94 10
6 Howard , Chaunté USA 1.94 8
7 Beitia , Ruth ESP 1.91 5
7 Green , Emma SWE 1.91 5
9 Acuff , Amy USA 1.91
10 Day , Sharon USA 1.88
Jardin , Anne-Gaëlle FRA NM

Men's Steeple
This race didn't feature many stars. Tareq Taher (formerly David Sang) got the win and former NCAA star Andrew Lemoncello got a small PR.

3000 Metres Steeplechase - Men
1 Taher , Tareq Mubarak BRN 8:08.53 20
2 Kipyego , Michael KEN 8:09.93 16
3 Mohamed , Mustafa SWE 8:11.10 14
4 Tahri , Bouabdellah FRA 8:12.72 12
5 Zouaoui Dandrieaux , Vincent FRA 8:14.74 10
6 Kiprotich , Wesley KEN 8:14.87 8
7 Mateelong , Richard Kipkemboi KEN 8:16.43 6
8 Lemoncello , Andrew GBR 8:22.95 4
9 Kosgei , Collins KEN 8:25.31 3
10 Lakhal , Irba FRA 8:28.04 3
11 Makhloufi , Rabia ALG 8:32.67 3
Chemweno , David Biwott KEN DNF
Lagat , David KEN DNF
Belabbas , Mohamed-Khaled FRA DNS
Keskisalo , Jukka FIN DNS
Kosgei , Reuben KEN DNS
Mekhissi-Benabbad , Mahiedine FRA DNS

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