Rome Golden Gala Recap: Kiplagat Over Souleiman And Kiprop, Eunice Sum Over Americans Wilson And Martinez, Dibaba Is Back, Huddle Sub-15, And Aman Wins Again

June 5, 2014

It was a quick turnaround from Saturday’s Pre Classic but the IAAF Diamond League was back in action today in Rome.

We recap the mid-d and distance events for you below. Reuters full-meet recap here: In sprint action: Justin Gatlin 9.91 win, American long jumper Tori Bowiewith a 11.05 win as SAFP struggled,Brianna Rollins over Dawn HarperBarsham 2.41 in highjump, and Merritt with a win. 

The big three are setting up quite the rivalry in 2014. The big three are setting up quite the rivalry in 2014.

Men’s 1,500: Silas Kiplagat Wins – Kiplagat, Souleiman and Kiprop now have one win each

The men’s 1,500 was a reverse of the Bowerman Mile at Pre on Saturday, as Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat moved past Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman with 75 meters to go to win in 3:30.44. Souleiman was second, while Kenya’s two-time defending world champ Asbel Kiprop held on for third.

The race

Universal Sports announcer Steve Cram said at the outset that the rabbits were supposed to take the field through 800 in 1:51, but it quickly became apparent they weren’t going to be able to do that. The pace was still pretty honest, however, as the rabbit hit 400 at 56.22 and 800 at 1:53.17 (that’s the even type of pace we here at like to see instead of a super fast first lap).

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Souleiman sat behind the rabbits for the first three laps with Kiprop right behind him the entire time. At the bell, there was a pack of four runners close behind Souleiman — Kiprop, Kiplagat, Aman Wote of Ethiopia and Abdelaati Iduider of Morocco. When the final rabbit dropped out at 1200 (Souleiman’s 1200 split was 2:50.07), the racing began.

Coming off the final turn, it was a three-man race – Souleiman, Kiprop and Kiplagat. Kiprop went wide but ended up going backwards. Kiplagat — who had been boxed in for most of the last lap — made a strong move with 75 meters to go. It would prove to be a winning move, with Kiplagat pulling away over the final 40 meters for the win and getting some revenge on Souleiman for Pre. We timed Kiplagat’s last lap in 54.1, with a 26.4 last 200.

Results and then quick takes. 

Silas Kiplagat celebrates in Rome Silas Kiplagat celebrates in Rome

1 KIPLAGAT Silas KEN 03:30.44
2 SOULEIMAN Ayanleh DJI 03:31.19
3 KIPROP Asbel KEN 03:31.89
4 TESFAYE Homiyu GER 03:31.98
5 IGUIDER Abdelaati MAR 03:32.09
6 CHEBOI Collins KEN 03:32.35
7 WOTE Aman ETH 03:33.96
8 CRONJE Johan RSA 03:34.90
9 MAKHLOUFI Taoufik ALG 03:35.12
10 CARVALHO Florian FRA 03:35.51
11 MAZOUZI Zakaria MAR 03:35.81
12 ROBINSON Paul IRL 03:36.45
13 EL KAAM Fouad MAR 03:36.50
MAIYO Hillary Kipkorir KEN DNF
ROTICH Andrew Kiptoo KEN DNF

Intermediate times:
400m ROTICH, Andrew Kiptoo (KEN)56.22
800m ROTICH, Andrew Kiptoo (KEN)01:53.2
1200m SOULEIMAN, Ayanleh (DJI)02:50.1

Quick Take #1:  Kiplagat is remarkably consistent on the Diamond League circuit.

Beginning with last year’s Pre Classic, Kiplagat has run six Diamond League races and finished first or second in all of them. If only the same could be said about the major championships.

He’s very good in rabbited races, but has struggled in championship finals recently (6th at worlds last year, 7th in the Olympics in 2012).

Quick Take #2: We’re glad Kiprop was allowed to run here.

Athletics Kenya initially tried to ban Kiprop for a “dip in form” but they wised up and let him race in Rome. Kiprop looked good and finished third. That might not look important now, but with Kiprop, Kiplagat and Souleiman all pretty evenly matched at 1500 (each has won one DL race so far this year, though Souleiman doesn’t get points for Pre), and every point in the Diamond Race counts.

Women’s 5000: Genzebe Dibaba Returns To Form as Kim Conley PRs and Molly Huddle Breaks 15:00

Genzebe Dibaba is back. Dibaba set three world records indoors and won the world indoor title at 3000. She was upset in the Diamond League opener in Doha, leading most of the 3000 before being dusted on the last lap. This time, Dibaba let someone else do the work and returned to her winning ways, posting a world-leading and new personal best of 14:34.99.

American Molly Huddle was seventh in 14:55.90 and Kim Conley was 11th in a new pb of 15:08.61.

The race

No one wanted to go with rabbit Judit Varga on the first lap, and once she saw no one was coming, she smartly slowed the pace down before dropping out at 1400. The field came through 1600 at 4:49.8, with Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana in the lead.  Ayana, the bronze medalist in Moscow last summer, knew the pace was too slow and began to pick it up.

After a 3:02 first K, the next three were run in 2:57, 2:54 and 2:56. Runners gradually dropped off what was initially a large lead pack, with Ayana, Dibaba and the top two women from the Pre Classic 2 mile, Kenyans Mercy Cherono and Viola Kibiwot, forming the lead pack. American Molly Huddle, who had been second behind Ayana at 2K, dropped off once Ayana began picking it up, leading the chase pack. Fellow American Kim Conley was near Huddle and would run with her for a good portion of the race.

The leaders hit 3k in 8:53.64 with Huddle roughly 8:58.

With two laps to go, Ayana led Dibaba, Cherono and Kibiwot, leading through a penultimate lap of 68.77. Cherono and Kibiwot began to fade slightly, but Dibaba was still right on Ayana’s back.

With 300 to go, Dibaba struck, and though Ayana responded, the race was over with 100 to go. Dibaba pulled away for a convincing win (61.5 last 400), with Ayana second and Kibiwot and Cherono third and fourth. Huddle held on for seventh in 14:55.90, while Conley was 11th in a PB of 15:08.61.

Results and quick takes below.

Dibaba wins in Rome Dibaba wins in Rome

1 DIBABA Genzebe ETH 14:34.99 WL
2 AYANA Almaz ETH 14:37.16
3 KIBIWOT Viola Jelagat KEN 14:40.05
4 CHERONO Mercy KEN 14:43.11 SB
5 KISA Janet KEN 14:52.59 PB
6 HAROYE Alemitu ETH 14:52.67 PB
7 HUDDLE Molly USA 14:55.90
8 TIROP Agnes Jebet KEN 15:00.19
9 JELAGAT Irene KEN 15:01.73 PB
10 PAVEY Joanne GBR 15:04.87 SB
11 CONLEY Kim USA 15:08.61 PB
12 AYALEW Hiwot ETH 15:09.64
13 MAMO Etagegne Woldu ETH 15:11.42
14 BLEASDALE Julia GBR 15:11.68
15 CHECA Dolores ESP 15:35.64
16 NOUJANI Nadia MAR 15:38.62
17 TESFAYE Haftamnesh ETH 15:39.10
18 ALAMREW Enatnesg ETH 15:45.76

Intermediate times:
1000mVARGA, Judit (ITA)3:02.88
2000mAYANA, Almaz (ETH)5:59.57
3000mAYANA, Almaz (ETH)8:53.64
4000mAYANA, Almaz (ETH)11:49.60

Quick Thought #1: Doha looks like it was a blip on the radar.

If you throw out Doha, Dibaba is 6-for-6 in 2014. We’re not saying that Doha should be ignored — it proved just how good Hellen Obiri is right now — but after Dibaba’s big win in Rome, it looks more like a case of a bad race for Dibaba than cause for alarm.

That being said, this race was perfect for Dibaba who is very much proven at 1500/3000 but less so at 5000. The pace was so slow at the start, this turned into a virtual 3k in many ways. Her last 3k was roughly 8:35 and her final 1600 was 4:30.

Quick Thought #2: A nice solid run by Molly Huddle

Huddle’s 14:55 was the fastest time she’s run since she ran her 14:44 American record in 2010. Since that 14:44, Huddle has run 18 5000s on the circuit and only broken 15:00 in two of them. For her to start off her 2014 DL at sub-15 is a good sign. In 2010, when she ran the AR, here is what she did on the DL in the 5000:

14:51.84    8 Areva Saint-Denis 16 Jul
14:57.93    9 Aviva London 13 Aug
14:44.76 AR   9 VD Bruxelles 27 Aug

We corresponded with Huddle via email after the race. Huddle was hoping for more today but found the faster pace of the 5k as composed to the 10,000 to be a bit of a shock.

“I feel ok overall about the Rome 5 but was hoping for a little more,” said Huddle who has a quick turnaround as she’ll be running the Oakley New York Mini 10K this Saturday before the 5000 at USAs. “I’m entered in the 5k at Monaco (July 18th) and will see how that goes. I have a mile at the Morton games in Dublin a week before it so I’m hoping that helps the hard 5 pace feel better. The PJ (Payton Jordan) 10000 did not have that effect.”

Quick Thought #3: The pacing was great for Kim Conley and she got a PB out of it.

While 4:49 was too slow for a really fast time up front, it was great for Conley, whose PB coming in was 15:09. Conley looked as if she might challenge Huddle at one point, but Huddle was too good over the last mile. Still, Conley took advantage of the early pacemaking to run a tiny PB (previous pb of 15:09.57).

QT #4: The ost impressive run of the day may belong to Britain’s Jo Pavey who set a masters world record at age 40.

She smashed Romania’ Elena Fidatov’s 15:20.59 record. More: MB: Jo Pavey 15:04.87 W40 World Record

Women's 800m Finish in Rome Women’s 800m Finish in Rome

Women’s 800: Eunice Sum Wins and Makes Athletics Kenya Look Foolish

2013 world champ Eunice Sum affirmed her status as the world’s best 800 meter runner to win her second Diamond League race of the season in Rome in 1:59.49. Sum controlled the race from the gun and was never passed once the rabbit dropped out. American Ajee’ Wilson moved from sixth to third in the final 20 meters as world championship medallist Brenda Martinez struggled tactically and ended up just fifth.

The race

The rabbit came through in 57.81, with Sum leading 18-year-old Cuban Sahily Diago Mesa and 20-year-old American Ajee Wilson who was in a great spot in third on the rail. With 600 to go, it was still Sum and Diago, but Wilson was starting to fade a little bit back to fourth as Pole Anjelika Cichoka passed her for third. Wilson would continue to lose ground and was seventh entering the home stretch.

As the runners entered the home stretch, Sum began to pull away and she wouldn’t be challenged over the final 100. Diago held on for second, while Wilson picked off several runners on the home stretch, moving all the way up to third.

American Brenda Martinez, who took bronze at worlds last year, struggled tactically in this one. She got out in the back and ran the first lap in the outside of lane 1, inside of lane 2. At the bell, she was next to last and made a huge move out very wide on the third turn to try to get herself into contention. She’d get up to third or fourth on the homestretch until she faded a little at the end.

Results and quick takes:

1 SUM Eunice Jepkoech KEN 01:59.49
2 DIAGO MESA Sahily CUB 02:00.01
3 WILSON Ajee USA 02:00.18 SB
4 CICHOCKA Angelika POL 02:00.30 SB
5 MARTINEZ Brenda USA 02:00.44
6 AKKAOUI Malika MAR 02:00.58 SB
7 ARZAMASOVA Marina BLR 02:00.72
8 ALMANZA Rose Mary CUB 02:00.74
9 JEPKOSGEI Janeth KEN 02:01.70
10 SEMENYA Caster RSA 02:02.66 SB
11 MILANI Marta ITA 02:02.82 SB
12 MAGISO Fantu ETH 02:12.26

Intermediate times:
400m JERUTO, Agatha (KEN)57.81
600m SUM, Eunice Jepkoech (KEN) 1:29.35

Quick Take #1: Athletics Kenya Eunice Sum is simply the best.

Her win was further proof that Athletics Kenya’s proposal to ban her and several other athletes from the Rome DL meet for not being in form was garbage. Sum ran 4:01.54 at Pre to set a 1500 PB and now she’s won both of the 800s on the DL so far. She’s clearly the best in the world at 800 right now.

Quick Take #2: Sahily Diago Mesa is for real. The 18-year-old entered Rome, the first DL event of her career, as the world leader at 1:57.74 and she was clearly the second-best runner today, finishing behind only the great Sum. Diago certainly has to be the favorite for World Juniors in July in Eugene, should she elect to run.

Quik Take #3: Brenda Martinez was probably the third best runner in this race but her tactics cost her big time.

Martinez’s come from behind strategy works fine at the Olympics/Worlds when there are only eight people in the race. It’s harder to do on the DL circuit. It was foolish of her to make such a big move on the third turn. She should have either waited and moved on the backstretch or gone out harder. You can’t make that big of a move 300+ meters from the finish and expect to have anything left late.

Wilson in contrast, saved ground the entire race up front on the rail. When everyone made their move, many of them came by her as she faded back to seventh with 100 to go but then everyone who had been dealing with traffic, like Martinez, came back to her in the last 50.

Men’s 3000 steeplechase: Jairus Birech Dominates

21-year-old Kenyan Jairus Birech got his second career Diamond League win on Thursday to take the men’s steeplechase in 8:06.20. There was a big gap between Birech in first and Paul Koech and Brimin Kipruto in second and third, and  then another gap between those two to the rest of the field. Ezekiel Kemboi, winner of the last four global titles in the steeplechase (and the winner in Doha on May 9) mysteriously dropped out after four laps.

The race

The field passed 1k in 2:41 and there was a pack of five behind the two rabbits — Koech, Birech, Kipruto, Abel Mutai and Clement Kemboi. The one remaining rabbit hit 2k at 5:24, with Koech close behind him and a gap to third. But Birech made a strong move late in the race and by the time he hit the bell, he had a big lead on the Kipruto and Koech, who in turn had a big lead on everyone else. This was one was not competitive over the final lap.

Birech powered away for a nice win, while Koech held off Kipruto for second.

Results and quick takes.

Birech celebrates Birech celebrates

1 BIRECH Jairus Kipchoge KEN 08:06.2 SB
2 KOECH Paul Kipsiele KEN 08:10.5
3 KIPRUTO Brimin Kiprop KEN 08:11.4
4 MUTAI Abel Kiprop KEN 08:15.8 SB
5 ZALEWSKI Krystian POL 08:16.2 PB
6 KEMBOI Clement Kimutai KEN 08:17.0 PB
7 GARCÍA Víctor ESP 08:17.4
8 EZZINE Hamid MAR 08:18.0 SB
9 KIPSANG Lawrence Kemboi KEN 08:19.9 PB
10 KIRUI Gilbert KEN 08:20.1
11 CHEMLAL Jaouad MAR 08:20.9 SB
12 DEMCZYSZAK Mateusz POL 08:22.4 PB
13 FLORIANI Yuri ITA 08:26.3
14 SAFIULIN Ilgizar RUS 08:34.9
15 PEÑA José Gregorio VEN 08:37.0
Intermediate times:
1000mLAGAT, Haron (KEN)2:41.29
2000mKIPSANG, Lawrence Kemboi (KEN)5:24.66

Quick Thought #1: What happened to Ezekiel Kemboi?

Kemboi dropped out at the mile and the commentators couldn’t come up with an explanation for what happened. We saw a tweet from one4onesports’ Michel Boeting that suggested Kemboi was saving up for Saturday’s Commonwealth Games trials, but if that was the case, why even race at all in Rome?

Quick Thought #2: The Kenyan dominance continues.

While still very young, Birech has never made a worlds or Olympics team for Kenya and yet he’s still won two Diamond League races in his career. We said in our Prefontaine recap that countries like the U.S. are lucky that Kenya gets only three (occasionally four) entries at global championships, and that’s especially true in the men’s steeplechase. Kenya has now won 29 of the 30 steeple races since the Diamond League began in 2010.

Quick Thought #3: Speaking of young phenoms from Kenya, where is Conseslus Kipruto this year?

Last year, at just age 18, he ran 8:01 and won silver at Worlds. He hasn’t been spotted on the circuit this year. If you know what’s up with him (or Kemboi today), please email us.

Men’s 800: Aman Gets Back to Winning Ways, Duane Solomon 4th

Ethiopian world indoor/outdoor champ Mo Aman rebounded from his defeat to Nijel Amos at Saturday’s Pre Classic by winning the men’s 800 in Rome (non-DL event) in 1:44.24. He didn’t get to exact revenge on Amos, however, as Amos didn’t start the race as expected.

After finishing third at Pre, Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki ran a strong final 100 for second, with Pole Marcin Lewandowski taking third. American Duane Solomon was fourth in 1:44.90.

The race

Unlike at Pre, Solomon got out very well and slotted in comfortably behind rabbit Bram Som, who took the field through 400 in 49.42.

Quick Thought #1: Neither of the big 800 showdowns came to fruition.

The women’s 800 showdown between Eunice Sum and Brenda Martinez fizzled when Martinez ran a tactically poor race to finish 5th. The other great 800 matchup, between Amos and Aman, didn’t even get started with Amos withdrawing before the event. We hyped up the men’s 800 as the latest chapter in what’s become a great three-way rivalry between Aman, Amos and David Rudisha, but unfortunately an Aman-Amos showdown wasn’t in the cards.

Quick Thought #2: Which Way Does Duane Solomon Go the Rest of the Year

Duane ran 1:43.88 in April, the fastest time ever in April. June started for him with a 1:44.90, after there was talk of him breaking the American record at Pre in his last month in May. What will he doing in July and August? No doubt Duane can get things going again in the right direction, but it will be interesting to see where his season ends up.


1 AMAN Mohammed ETH 01:44.24
2 KAKI Abubaker SUD 01:44.57
3 LEWANDOWSKI Marcin POL 01:44.60 SB
4 SOLOMON Duane USA 01:44.90
5 KINYOR Job KEN 01:44.90
6 SOWINSKI Erik USA 01:45.23
7 BELHANBEL Nader MAR 01:45.37 PB
8 BENEDETTI Giordano ITA 01:45.99 SB
9 BALLA Musaeb Abdulrahman QAT 01:46.28
Intermediate times:
400m SOM, Bram (NED) 49.42
600m SOLOMON, Duane (USA) 01:16.3

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