2011 Paris Diamond League Recap

By LetsRun.com
July 8, 2011

The Areva Paris Diamond League meet did not disappoint. Usain Bolt showed up and entertained, there was a thriller in the men's hurdles between David Oliver and Dayron Robles, an upset in the women's 100m, and it's officially time for Jeremy Wariner to panic. However, you all most likely want to know about the distance races. The American men got the job done in the 1,500m, Shalane Flanagan just missed the American record at 5000m, Caster Semenya won a bizarre 800m, and a Frenchman may be the favorite at Worlds in the steeplechase. We recap the track action below starting with the distance races.

Men's 1,500m: Amine Laalou Impresses And Americans Get The Job Done In Paris All-Comers 1,500m

The starting line of the Paris Diamond League 1,500m with 19 men looked like an all-comers meet except it featured the world's best 1,500m runners. 19 men is way too many for a world-class 1,500m, but with the IAAF shortening the qualifying window for the World Champs, there were a lot of guys wanting to be on the line to try for the World Championships 3:35.00 "A" qualifying time.

In addition to Olympic champ Asbel Kiprop and silver medallist Nick Willis, the field featured 1:43/3:29 Moroccan Amine Laalou, who has looked great in 2011, and the top 4 Americans from the US champs - Matt Centrowitz Jr, Bernard Lagat, Leo Manzano and Andrew Wheating.

Men's 1,500m In Paris
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The two rabbits took the field out in 54.71 with Asbel Kiprop going out fast and sitting right behind them with Bernard Lagat sitting on Kiprop. Meanwhile the other Americans were all near the back, with Nick Willis of New Zealand in last.

Kiprop was still behind the rabbits at 800 1:53.56, but the pace was slowing (58.85 2nd lap). Once the rabbits dropped out, the pace really slowed heading down the homestretch, and the bell was hit in 2:38 with everyone close together (the other Americans were roughly 2:39).

On the final lap, some of the early guys up front like Kiprop and Lagat got boxed in as the field came up from behind. But honestly, that made no difference as one guy was clearly best here. Morocco's Amine Laalou stormed to the front around the bend and blew away the field the last 100m to win in 3:32.15. Everyone else appeared to be in another race.

After dropping back towards the middle of the field from 500 out to 100 out, Kiprop charged to the front again over the last 100m to get second in 3:33.04 (the .89 second difference between first and second may not seem like a lot, but it's a ton - roughly 6+ meters and over 20 feet). Bernard Lagat showed at 36 he's still pretty fast, as he was third and Nick Willis went from last on the first lap to fourth in 3:33.22.

The other Americans did very well and all 3 accomplished their main goal of hitting the "A" standard. Leo Manzano, the US #1 in 2010, who had struggled mightily in 2011 before nationals, was a strong 6th in 3:33.66. Andrew Wheating was roughly three quarters of a second behind him in 3:34.39 and Centro Jr. ran much of the last lap in lane 2 but did well for himself in his first pro European race in 11th in 3:34.69.

Quick Take (QT) #1: 19 guys is way, way too many people for a race like this. The rabbit is forced to go out fast, but if the rabbit hits 55 for the first lap, then automatically he is going to have to slow the 2nd lap, so the effective pace when the rabbits drop out is often very slow, leaving 19 guys to sprint around one another the final lap. 12 of the 19 in this race broke 3:35.00. Prior to this race in 2011, only 19 guys had done that in the world.

QT #2: All the worries about none of the Americans having the World "A" standard are gone with one race. We still think one way to improve the sport for the fan is to let countries earn qualifying spots. The US had 5 guys under the standard last year, likely they were going to get at least 3 under this year. It would have been much more fan friendly for the IAAF to give the US 3 spots in the 1,500m at Worlds based on last year's performances. Then casual fans wouldn't have to be confused about qualifying times. The Americans all looked good here and Leo Manzano is a different runner than he was a month ago.

QT #3: Asbel Kiprop needs to take a racing lesson from Nick Willis. You can criticize Willis for running in the back, but Willis executes the race strategy he has time and time again. Kiprop seems to have no strategy and often goes out hard, then gets engulfed by the pack before freeing himself and charging too late. Instead of running 55 then 58 all the time, why not run 56-56 Asbel?

QT #4: Amine Laalou looked incredible. Even with better tactics, Kiprop wouldn't have beaten him here.

1
MAR
3:32.15
2
KEN
3:33.04
3
USA
3:33.11
SB
4
NZL
3:33.22
SB
5
MAR
3:33.59
SB
6
USA
3:33.66
SB
7
FRA
3:33.75
PB
8
ETH
3:33.84
9
USA
3:34.39
SB
10
ESP
3:34.44
PB
11
USA
3:34.69
PB
12
ETH
3:34.86
13
FRA
3:35.29
PB
14
GER
3:35.74
SB
15
GBR
3:36.47
SB
16
MAR
3:37.94
 
FRA
DNF
 
KEN
DNF
 
KSA
DNF

Intermediate times:
400m JOLIVET, Jeremy (FRA) 54.71
800m Maiyo, Hillary Kipkorir (KEN) 1:53.56
1,200m Mekonnen, Deresse (ETH) 2:51.98

Women's 800m: Caster Semenya Wins A Strange One

Women's 800m In Paris
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The women's 800m was a bizarre race won by 2009 World Champion Caster Semenya in 2:00.18. Despite featuring four of the world's five fastest in 2011, plus Semenya, the race tells us little about the state of affairs in 800m running in the world because of a fall in the first 200m. All we know is that Semenya is a tremendous talent who continues to run super inconsistently.

There is a reason championship 800m races don't have 11 runners in them - that's simply too many people for such a short race. The field of 11 was fine until they broke from their lanes on the backstretch. Halfway down the backstretch, the fall occurred. Yuneysi Santiusti of Cuba tangled with Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica (undefeated at 800 in 2011) and Santiusti went down. Sinclair also clipped the leg of American champ Alysia Montano, who was in front of Sinclair.

Santiusti would get up off the ground and chase after the pack. Sinclair, who did not go down and was still in good position, would soon slow down and drop out.

The rabbit, Clarisse Moh, hit 400m in 57.1, but the field - led by Alysia Montano - was a bit farther back around 58 seconds. World Champion Semenya was near the back of the pack and seemingly having another bad race (she was 5th in 2:01.01 in a race in France 3 days ago).

Montano led onto the backstretch. Before you knew it, Britain's Jenny Meadows and Semenya (who had moved up a ton from 400 to 600) overtook Montano and were battling for the lead around the turn. They continued to battle heading onto the homestretch. Semenya then powered away to the easy victory in 2:00.18 and celebrated by making a big "X" with her hands.

Halima Hachlaf would overtake Meadows for second in 2:00.60 and Alysia Montano, who had drifted back from 600 to 700, would rally a bit to finish a comfortable fourth, close to Meadows in third.

Quick Take (QT) #1: This was a bizarre race, but much of it can be attributed to the fall. When the world's best 800m runners don't break 2:00, something is amiss. Alysia Montano did not look herself but she did have her stride clipped in the fall, so she gets a pass.

QT #2: If you're one of the people who thinks Semenya tanks races on purpose so people aren't suspicious of her, then this race probably supports your view. Semenya was way back at 400m, stormed to the lead at 600, and comfortably pulls away to the win. How could she ever lose unless it was on purpose? The other view is that Semenya won a 2:00 race, so no one should be impressed. Maybe she's like Kiprop - really good or really bad.

1
RSA
2:00.18
2
MAR
2:00.60
3
GBR
2:00.74
4
USA
2:00.78
5
FRA
2:01.45
6
ALG
2:01.73
7
BLR
2:01.78
8
CUB
2:02.55
9
NED
2:08.09
 
FRA
DNF
 
JAM
DNF

Intermediate times:
400m Moh, Clarisse (FRA) 57.17
600m Meadows, Jennifer (GBR) 1:30.12

Women's 5,000: Ohhh So Close For Flanagan As Defar Breaks 14:30

Molly Huddle can breathe a sigh of relief.

Meseret Defar Wins 5,000m
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The women's 5,000 was about two things - could pre-race favorite Meseret Defar get a world leader and become the first person under 14:30 this year (previous world leader was Vivian Cheruiyot at 14:31.92) and could Shalene Flanagan get back the American record in the 5,000 which she lost last year to Molly Huddle by .04 when Huddle ran 14:44.76 in Brussels?

Defar had to work for it as two runners stayed with her until the bell, but she used a 29-point final 200 to get the win and world lead with a 14:29.52 as her countrywoman Sentayehu Ejigu was 2nd in 14:31.66 and Kenya's Mercy Cherono was third in 14:35.13 - a new personal best for the 20-year-old who was a two-time world junior champion at 3,000.

Flanagan, however, didn't end up getting what she wanted, as she just missed the American record by running 14:45.20. So, so close.

As was expected, Flanagan ran much of the race alone as the field disintegrated with the fast pace. Starting at 600 and for most of the first mile, she was way back in 12th place, but Flangan was running smartly as she went through 1,600 in roughly 4:42. The leaders were pretty even over the first 3,200 as they were 4:39-40 at 1,600 and 9:20 at 3,200.

There was one other time that was of consequence in this race. American Amy Hastings came in looking for the IAAF World Championships standard of 15:14.00, so her teammate, Angela Bizzarri, can go to Worlds, as Bizzarri and Hastings only have the B standard and the US can only send one athlete to Worlds with the B standard. Unfortunately, Hastings, who had run 15:14.31 earlier this year, came up just short with a 15:15.30.

QT #1: Watching this race, you see how far the Americans have to go at 5,000m. Flanagan moved up to a respectable 4th, but the Americans are a long way from being competitive for the wins at major 5,000m races.

QT #2: It's the 2nd time this year that Flanagan has broken 14:50 but not gotten the record, as she ran 14:49 in Eugene.

QT #3: It's absolutely stupid that unless things change, Bizzarri won't get to go to Worlds. People want to know why track isn't more popular. How about explaining to the public that the A standard for the Olympic 5,000 is 15:15.00 but for Worlds it's 15:14.00? Or that for Worlds, you can go with a B but in the Olympics, you can't go with a B unless you are the only one running.

QT #4: One of the announcers on the BBC broadcast was spot on after the race when he said the following about Defar, who came into the race saying she hoped to run 14:20: "If you think you are in 14:20 shape, you have to be a little braver than that." True indeed - Defar was content to sit in the front and wait for the final 200 once the rabbits departed.

QT #5: We don't think this is the type of race one should go to try and hit the 15:14 standard. Everyone in this field was attempting to run much faster.

QT #6: The conditions weren't ideal as it was a little warm at race time - about 72 degrees with 40% humidity.

Rank Athlete Nation Result
1
ETH
14:29.52
WL
2
ETH
14:31.66
SB
3
KEN
14:35.13
PB
4
USA
14:45.20
SB
5
ESP
14:46.89
6
ETH
14:56.05
7
ETH
14:57.62
8
ETH
14:57.66
9
ETH
14:58.34
10
USA
15:15.30
11
ETH
15:15.67
SB
12
USA
15:30.97
 
ETH
DNF
 
POR
DNF
 
KEN
DNF

Intermediate times:
1,000m Wangari, Mary Mureithi (KEN) 2:53.62
2,000m Wangari, Mary Mureithi (KEN) 5:48.73
3,000m Ejigu, Sentayehu (ETH) 8:45.75
4,000m Defar, Meseret (ETH)11:42.62

Men's Steeple: Might We Have A French World Champion?

A Frenchman Wins The Steeple?
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Kenya has never lost a World Championships or Olympic men's steeplechase race. That may change in 2011.

2008 Olympic silver medallist and 2010 European champion Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France thrilled the home crowd by dominating the last lap to win the men's steeple in a new personal best of 8:02.09.

The race started out hot as the organizers wanted a sub-8:00 clocking, but the first lap was too fast and while the first km was hit in 2:39.55 (2:40 is 8:00 pace), it was clear that the pace was lagging already and by 2,000 (5:25.49), it seemed as if the 8:00 barrier was certainly out of the equation.

With 2 laps remaining, the clock was turning to 6:00 and it seemed as if it was a 2-man affair, as the two Kenyans up front in  Ezekiel Kemboi (2004 Olympic and 2009 world champion) and Patrick Langat had about 5-10 meters on Mekhissi-Benabbad. Langat was in the lead and Kemboi was visibly grimacing as he tried to stay with Langat. However, as the runners passed the penultimate water jump, the gap between them and the Frenchman started to narrow and at the bell, Mekhissi-Benabbad shot to the lead and Kemboi, not Langat, was the only one who responded, as instantly Langat was dropped.

In the end, there was no real drama over the final half lap as the Frenchman impressively pulled away, running his last two laps in just over 2:00. That's crazy, crazy good - that's probably something close to 7:40 steeple pace - and the scarier thing for Kenyan fans is that he looked really, really easy in doing it.

Quick Take: As impressive as his last two laps were, it's too early to crown Mekhissi-Benabbad just yet, as the #1 steeplechaser on the year - Paul Kipsiele Koech - who has three times run under 8:03 this year, wasn't in the race, nor was 2008 Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto, who stood at #2 on the yearly list before today's race.

Rank Athlete Nation Result
1
FRA
8:02.09
PB
2
KEN
8:07.14
SB
3
UGA
8:08.43
SB
4
ETH
8:10.03
SB
5
KEN
8:11.31
PB
6
KEN
8:13.14
7
RSA
8:14.36
8
POL
8:15.47
PB
9
FRA
8:16.03
PB
10
KEN
8:21.63
11
FRA
8:22.38
SB
12
KEN
8:25.44
13
FRA
8:25.82
14
FIN
8:26.72
SB
15
POR
8:35.39
 
KEN
DNF
 
KEN
DNF
 
FRA
DNF
 
FRA
DNF

Intermediate times:
1,000m Mutai, Abel Kiprop (KEN) 2:39.55
2,000m Lagat, Haron (KEN) 5:25.49

Non-Distance Action: In addition to what we talk about below, there also was a world leader in the women's 400h.

Usain Bolt Wins 200m
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Men's 200m: Usain Bolt Gets To Entertain For An Extra 15 Minutes

This race was the race that packed the first two decks of the stadium in Paris. The world superstar Usain Bolt versus French superstar (and GWH) Christophe Lemaitre. There was a lot of race day chatter because Usain Bolt reportedly had the flu but was going to run anyway.

After the introductions, where Bolt entertained the crowd as usual, the runners had to sit/stand in their lanes for roughly 15 minutes as there was some sort of  timing/starting problem from Omega. It was quite embarrassing for the meet and we hope that people watching this meet on live TV were able to watch this race as it went beyond its scheduled 2-hour window.

Once the gun gut off, Bolt did what you'd expect. He blew by the field on the turn. He had a big lead coming off the homestretch and cruised to the win in 20.03, letting up just before the line. Lemaitre ran a poor turn, but kept battling on the straight and Bolt did not pull away from him. Lemaitre had to settle for second in 20.21, above the 20.16 French record.

QT: We know Omega pays a ton to sponsor the IAAF timing, but they don't do as good a job as Finishlynx. That is unacceptable. In addition to this snafu, the results that are put up immediately after the race are wrong, like they were in the men's 1,500m, where Kiprop was not put on the TV broadcast as being in second place.

1. Usain BOLT JAM 86 20.03
2. Christophe LEMAITRE FRA 90 20.21
3. Darvis PATTON USA 77 20.59
4. Mario FORSYTHE JAM 85 20.61
5. Rondel SORRILLO TRI 86 20.81
6. Teddy TINMAR FRA 87 21.15
7. Shawn CRAWFORD USA 78 22.17

Jeremy Wariner Beaten Badly
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Men's 400m: Jeremy Wariner Is In Trouble

Sound the warning sirens. Jeremy Wariner appears to be in serious trouble. He finished 4th in the Paris Diamond League 400m and was closer to the amputee human interest story Oscar Pistorius than to winner Christopher Brown of the Bahamas. Wariner ran 44.88 back in May and appeared to be on his way to another World title. He's only broken 45 once since then (44.98 at USAs) and this was the worst we've seen him race in years.

1. Christopher BROWN BAH 44.94 SB
2. Jonathan BORLÉE BEL 45.05  
3. Jermaine GONZALES JAM 45.43  
4. Jeremy WARINER USA 45.50  
5. Oscar PISTORIUS RSA 45.84  
6. Michael BINGHAM GBR 45.84  
7. Calvin SMITH USA 45.88  
8. Yoann DECIMUS FRA 46.88  

Robles And Oliver Entertain
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Men's 110m Hurdles: Robles-Oliver Showdown Delivers

The men's hurdles is the one event where the stars constantly go head-to-head. This showdown between World #1 David Oliver and world record holder Dayron Robles did not disappoint. Robles got out with the lead, but Oliver was closing on him and appeared to nudge slightly ahead after the last hurdle. However, Robles had the better dip and it was a photo finish. Robles' lean got him the win, although they both ran 13.09.

1. Dayron ROBLES CUB 86 13.09
2. David OLIVER USA 82 13.09
3. Dwight THOMAS JAM 80 13.18
4. Aries MERRITT USA 85 13.27
5. Jason RICHARDSON USA 86 13.31
6. Andrew TURNER GBR 80 13.43
7. Terrence TRAMMELL USA 78 13.57
- Dimitri BASCOU FRA 87 DQ

Women's 100m In Paris
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Women's 100m: Kelly-Ann Baptiste Upsets Veronica Campbell-Brown

Veronica Campbell-Brown, the world leader at 100 and 200 in 2010, and 2011 Jamaican 100 and 200m champion, does not race a lot of Diamond League races. She did win in Shanghai earlier this year, but here in Paris she was upset by former NCAA champ and LSU standout Kelly-Ann Baptiste.

1. Kelly-Ann BAPTISTE TRI 86 10.91
2. Veronica CAMPBELL-BROWN JAM 82 10.95
3. Kerron STEWART JAM 84 11.04
4. Ivet LALOVA BUL 84 11.18
5. Shalonda SOLOMON USA 85 11.19
6. Sherone SIMPSON JAM 84 11.33
7. Véronique MANG FRA 84 11.33
8. Myriam SOUMARE FRA 86 11.36
9. LaShauntea MOORE USA 83 11.39

Women's 400h: A New World Leader

Rank Athlete Nation Result Reaction time Diamond Points Diamond Ranking
1
CZE
53.29
WL,NR
0.165
8
1
img
2
JAM
53.45
=SB
0.263
8
2
 
3
RUS
54.41
SB
0.254
2
4
 
4
GBR
54.79
0.299
2
4
 
5
JAM
55.06
0.449
2
4
 
6
BUL
55.51
0.343
 
 
 
7
JAM
56.32
0.432
 
 
 
8
FRA
56.53
PB
0.261
 
 
 

Men's LJ: A New British Record

Rank Athlete Nation Result
Wind
Diamond Points Diamond Ranking   1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
1
PAN
8.40
+0.2
SB
4
3
   
x
(-0.6)
8.19
(0.0)
x
(+1.0)
7.78
(-0.1)
8.40
(+0.2)
7.81
(-0.5)
2
GBR
8.35
+0.9
NR
2
5
   
8.10
(-0.2)
8.21
(+0.4)
8.35
(+0.9)
-
7.96
(+0.6)
7.99
(+0.1)
3
GBR
8.27
+0.3
SB
5
2
   
8.02
(+0.6)
x
(+0.3)
8.11
(+0.1)
8.06
(+0.6)
8.27
(+0.3)
8.01
(+0.8)
4
RSA
8.25
+0.7
SB
6
1
img
 
7.91
(0.0)
7.94
(+0.3)
6.65
(-0.5)
7.93
(-0.1)
8.25
(+0.7)
8.15
(+0.5)
5
MAR
8.10
-0.1
   
8.10
(-0.1)
7.76
(+0.1)
8.02
(-0.4)
7.93
(-1.4)
x
(+0.5)
x
(+0.5)
6
GRE
8.03
-0.1
1
8
   
8.03
(-0.1)
x
(-0.2)
7.99
(+0.9)
7.94
(-1.2)
x
(+0.6)
7.97
(+0.6)
7
GER
7.99
0.0
   
7.94
(+0.1)
x
(-0.1)
7.80
(+0.8)
7.64
(+0.1)
7.99
(0.0)
7.45
(-0.6)
8
AUS
7.97
-1.0
   
7.52
(0.0)
7.97
(-1.0)
7.87
(-1.1)
7.82
(-0.1)
7.77
(-0.3)
-
9
GHA
7.90
+0.6
1
8
   
7.79
(-1.2)
7.79
(+0.3)
7.90
(+0.6)
 
 
 
10
DEN
7.87
+0.3
2
5
   
7.87
(+0.3)
7.77
(+0.2)
x
(+2.6)
 
 
 
11
FRA
7.55
+1.2
   
x
(0.0)
7.55
(+1.2)
x
(+1.8)
 
 

*Full Results Here


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