June 11, 2015
The 2015 ExxonMobil Bislett Games Diamond League track and field meeting – the 50th anniversary edition of the meet – was held today in Oslo.
Below we recap the exciting women’s 1500 where Laura Muir became the first Brit – male or female – to ever win a Diamond League 1500. We recap the rest of the meet including the men’s dream mile, a loaded men’s high jump and a world record attempt in the women’s 5000 here.
The Women’s 1500
Great Britain’s Laura Muir earned a well-deserved victory in the women’s 1500 in 4:00.39, but it took everything she had to do it. Muir was the only woman to go with the rabbit early on and by the bell she had a 3.5-second lead over the field. That set the stage for a dramatic final lap, where Muir just managed to hold off Kenya’s 3:56 woman Faith Kipyegon to record Great Britain’s first win in a Diamond League 1500/mile (either gender).
Several times this year, runners in middle distance/distance races have failed to go with the pacemaker, and that was true again in this one, with the notable exception of Muir, the 22-year-old who finished 4th in the 3,000 at the European Indoor Championships in March. By 400 (63.18 seconds), Muir, running behind rabbit Selma Kajan, had a lead of around 10 meters on the chase pack. A lap later, Muir’s lead had ballooned to three seconds as she came through 2:08.36 (65.18 lap). But with Kajan now out of the race, the second half was going to be a lot tougher as if Muir was going to keep the lead, she would have to do it on her own.
Muir bravely pressed on and held a 3.5-second lead at the bell before reaching 1200 in 3:13.11 (64.75 lap). But the kickers were coming for her, as Seyaum led the chase pack, who were beginning to narrow the gap. With 200 to go, the lead was down to two seconds as Kipyegon passed Seyaum and set off after Muir, whose lead was shrinking with every step. Entering the home stretch, Muir’s lead was eight meters (about 1.25 seconds) and with Kipyegon closing fast, all Muir’s hard work looked as if it might go for nought.
But Muir, who was visibly straining during the final 200, dug deep and held off Kipyegon for a famous win. Kipyegon, who closed in right around 60-flat for her last lap, took second in 4:00.94, well ahead of Seyaum in third (4:02.90). Americans Gabe Grunewald (5th, 4:04.26) and Heather Kampf (8th, 4:05.12) acquitted themselves well.
1 Muir , Laura GBR 4:00.39 4 2 Kipyegon , Faith Chepngetich KEN 4:00.94 2 3 Seyaum , Dawit ETH 4:02.90 1 4 Aregawi , Abeba SWE 4:03.07 5 Grunewald , Gabrielle USA 4:04.26 6 Weightman , Laura GBR 4:04.70 7 Plis , Renata POL 4:04.74 8 Kampf , Heather USA 4:05.12 9 Duncan , Melissa AUS 4:05.56 10 Hilali , Siham MAR 4:07.17 11 Buckman , Zoe AUS 4:14.81 Kajan , Selma AUS DNF Uceny , Morgan USA DNS
Quick Take #1: A round of applause for Laura Muir
One of the hardest things to do is lead a 1500 wire-to-wire. It’s even tougher when you’re only the fifth-fastest woman in the field by PR. So kudos to Muir for having the guts to go with the rabbit when no one else would and the toughness to hold on for the win. Maybe this will lead to more runners going with the rabbits in Diamond League races — many times this year, the rabbits have served no purpose whatsoever.
With that said, this was a terrifically exciting race and it wouldn’t have happened if everyone went with the rabbit at the start of the race.
Quick Take #2: Faith Kipyegon should run the 1500 at Worlds
Kipyegon’s 3:56.98 PR from two years ago — at age 19 — is better than any of the major contenders for 1500 gold this summer, save Abeba Aregawi (3:56.54), and Kipyegon smoked Aregawi in this race. Kipyegon, a two-time world junior champ in cross country, had some success in her 5000 debut at the Pre Classic (14:31.95) but still lost to Genzebe Dibaba by over 12 seconds in that race. As good as Kipyegon is at 5000, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to make up the deficit to Dibaba and 14:14 woman Almaz Ayana by August.
That means that the logical thing for Kipyegon to do is focus on the 1500, where her odds at gold are much higher. Yes, Jenny Simpson is running extremely well right now and Sifan Hassan is rounding into form, but Kipyegon’s run today (closing in 60-flat, beating everyone except Muir by almost two seconds) shows that she’s in great 1500 shape at the moment. If the goal is winning gold, she should run the 1500 at Worlds; she’s much more likely to take down Simpson and Hassan than Dibaba and Ayana (the 5,000 is after the 1500 at Worlds, so she could also double-enter if she wants).