July 7, 2015
Want to know which athletes will win gold in the distance events at next month’s World Championships in Beijing? You should probably start by watching Thursday’s Athletissima Lausanne Diamond League meet, where the fields in the four DL distance events — the men’s 800 and 5,000 and the women’s 1500 and 3,000 steeplechase — are completely stacked. With USAs over, many of the biggest American stars are trekking to Europe for the first time this summer. Add names like Jenny Simpson, Emma Coburn and Matthew Centrowitz to the typically stacked Diamond League fields, and the result is one of the best meets of the summer.
Becuase ever distance race is so good, it’s basically impossible to pick a highlight. Coburn and Americans Colleen Quigley and Leah O’Connor join 2014 world #1 Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia and Kenya’s Virginia Nyambura (wins in Doha and Birmingham) in the women’s steeple. 2014 world #1 Caleb Ndiku will make his season debut in a spectacular men’s 5,000 which includes Mo Farah, Yomif Kejelcha, Hagos Gebrhiwet and many more. Jenny Simpson faces Faith Kipyegon, Sifan Hassan and Dawit Seyaum in the women’s 1500. And the men’s 800 features Mo Aman, Nijel Amos and a guy by the name of David Rudisha.
There are some terrific non-distance events as well, led by the men’s 100 (Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell). Pedro Pablo Pichardo battles U.S. champ Omar Craddock in the triple jump, Dawn Harper-Nelson and Sharika Nelvis face off in the 100 hurdles and Allyson Felix runs her specialty, the 200 meters.
You’re not going to want to miss this meet. We give you the details below and then preview the men’s mid-d/distance events (women preview here: LRC Emma Coburn Goes for AR in Steeple; Jenny Simpson Tries to Keep Winning Streak Alive in 1500 + Sub-2 For Rowbury?).
What: 2015 Athletissima Lausanne
Where: Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland
When: Thursday, July 9. Field events begin at 12:00 p.m. ET; DL track events (and the beIN Sports broadcast) begin at 2:00 p.m. ET.
How to watch: Live on beIN Sports from 2:00 p.m. ET to 4:00 p.m. ET. In Europe, you can watch the meet live on Eurosport. Details on the TV/streaming information here.
Men’s 5,000 (3:01 p.m. ET): Farah vs. Ndiku and everybody else
|Antonio Abadia Beci||Spain||13:28.35||13:28.35|
|Mo Farah||Great Britain||12:53.11|
|Youssouf Hiss Bachir||Djibouti||13:28.20||13:30.11|
|Andy Vernon||Great Britain||13:11.50||13:48.83|
All throughout 2014, fans clamored for a race between Caleb Ndiku, the man who was dominating the international circuit, and Mo Farah, winner of the gold medal in the 5,000 at the last three global championships. It never came to pass.
Track fans need to ttwait no longer, as both Ndiku and Farah are part of a loaded field in Lausanne that in addition to those two features five of the six fastest men in the world this year (Farah and Ndiku haven’t run a 5000 this year). And as if the long-awaited Ndiku-Farah showdown is not enough (they’ve only faced off once in their careers, over 1500 in Monaco in 2013, with Farah running 3:28.81 to Ndiku’s 3:29.50), both will command extra attention for what has already transpired in 2015.
For Ndiku, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say “what hasn’t transpired.” The 22-year-old Kenyan won everything in sight last year, claiming World Indoor (3,000), Diamond League, Commonwealth and African titles to go with DL victories in Eugene and Zurich. He entered 2015 as Farah’s chief rival over 5,000 meters; in some eyes, he may have even been the favorite. But 2015 is over halfway done and Ndiku has yet to race even once. Initially, he planned on running World XC in March, but his knee was bothering him early in the year, causing him to fly to Austria to seek treatment. Speaking to AIPS in January, he said he expected to miss four months of competition but that he planned on competing in the first three Diamond League meets in Doha, Shanghai and Eugene in May. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and Ndiku didn’t race at all in June, either.
Back in May, Ndiku told SuperSport, “Farah broke the world 3000m indoor record recently and he is in good form and although I can’t predict, I believe it is not possible for the Kenyans to beat him at this stage of the season.” He was proven right as Farah beat the top Kenyans in Doha (though he was second in the 3,000 to Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet) and Eugene (where Farah won the 10,000). But he still felt it was possible to close the gap by Worlds, telling SuperSport:
“I’m not ready yet but I’m looking forward to return to action really soon. August is still far and there is enough time for Longosiwa, Kiplangat and myself and other Kenyans to be ready to face Farah in Beijing.
“That remains my goal and the reason I’m working so hard to be fit and get shape. I have no bad feelings about missing the chance to race with Farah in Doha because the important thing for me is to get back to running at my best.”
Despite not racing, his confidence only grew into June as Ndiku told Indo Asian News Service:
“The Buffalo is in the forest and is soon coming out. I intend to bring back the 5,000m crown to Kenya where it belongs after it was snatched from us by Ethiopian runners and presently Mo Farah of Britain.”
“Those are the only gold medals missing in my closet, which I intend to achieve, after which the Buffalo will recede to the forest in retirement from where he will reign supreme.”
Yes, if you couldn’t tell, “the Buffalo” is Ndiku’s nickname, and yes, that’s awesome. Ndiku’s attitude and personality — remember at World Indoors last year where he ran the prelims in a skull cap before revealing dyed red hair for the final? — are great for the sport, and if he can develop a rivalry with Farah and carry it through to the Olympics next year, it could draw some much-needed eyeballs to the distance events.
But his quote also opened our eyes to a startling fact: it’s been 10 years since Kenya has won a gold medal in the 5,000 or 10,000 at Worlds/the Olympics (Benjamin Limo was the last man to do it, winning the 5,000 in 2005). Here’s a quick breakdown of where the 5,000/10,000 gold medals have gone since then (2007 – present):
Great Britain 5
Kenya (and everyone else in the world): 0.
There are a couple of good reasons for that:
1) 10 of the medals went to two superstuds, Kenenisa Bekele and Farah.
2) The influx of money into the marathon has led to the top Kenyan talent turning toward the roads much earlier in their careers.
Still, it’s a striking stat and in a country that prizes individual glory, you can see why Ndiku is motivated to end the drought. The question, of course, is whether Ndiku can go almost 10 months between races and put it together in time to defeat the best in the world in Beijing. Lausanne will go a long way toward answering that question.
Farah, in case you forgot, hasn’t raced since the BBC/ProPublic report on his coach, Alberto Salazar, broke on June 3 (he addressed the press in Birmingham that week but withdrew from the meet) and will likely draw the most media attention of anyone in Lausanne. Farah, who announced on June 26 he will keep Salazar as his coach, has sought to remove himself from the drama, training at altitude in France over the last few weeks. But the last month hasn’t been easy on him, and he noted in a Facebook post on June 19 that “the last two weeks have been the toughest of my life.”
Lausanne was already going to be tough, with 10 sub-13 guys in the field and Farah donning the usual target on his back that accompanies his status as double Olympic/World champ. But now he’ll also face the glare of the media spotlight. Have those weeks in France steeled Farah’s body and mind for the battles to come? Or will the question marks surrounding his coach take their toll? Based on USAs, it would be wise to go with the former; it was hard to find evidence of the BBC/ProPublica report affecting the on-track performances of any Nike Oregon Project athletes.
When we last saw Farah, he was reasserting himself as the world’s finest 10,000 runner, streaking away from Paul Tanui and Geoffrey Kamworor to run 26:50 at the Pre Classic on May 29. Can he do the same in the 5,000? His runner-up finish in the 3,000 in Doha on May 15 was a strong performance, but it also demonstrated that Farah can be outkicked in a distance race — an outcome that was beginning to look like an impossibility following the events of 2012 and 2013. Now Hagos Gebrhiwet and the rest of the field know Farah is beatable, even though it will still require a Herculean effort to shortcircuit the Mobot.
Who else could win?
Given Farah’s record of success, he has to enter Thursday’s race as the favorite. He’s lost just one 5,000 in the last five years, and that came at the Pre Classic in 2013 when Farah was sick. Yomif Kejelcha has been the man to beat over 5,000 this year, notching wins in Eugene and Rome (the latter in a world-leading 12:58.39), but it bears remembering that Kejelcha lost to Farah over 3,000 in Doha.
That said, Kejelcha was overaggressive in Doha, making a hard move with 400 to go that he could not sustain. But he learned from it in Eugene and Rome, timing his kick much better in those races to take down quality fields. At 17, Kejelcha still has a lot to learn about racing on the circuit, but if he can position himself well in Lausanne and move at the right time, he’s got a good shot to defeat Farah.
After him, Hagos Gebrhiwet jumps out as a potential winner. The 2013 Worlds silver medallist is still officially 21 and his win over Farah in the Doha 3000 makes him the only man to beat Farah on an outdoor track in the last two years. Gebrhiwet was third behind Kejelcha in Rome. 2014 world leader Muktar Edris (12:54.83) was only sixth in Rome, but his 13:00 was plenty fast for his first track race of the year and he’s coming off a win in the Ethiopian 10,000 trials on June 17. Fellow Ethiopian Imane Merga, the 2011 World XC champion, has been resurgent in 2015, with a fourth in Rome and second in the Ethiopian 10,000 trials, but he’s more of a 10,000 meter man. Kenyans Thomas Longosiwa (Olympic bronze at 5000 in 2012, 4th in 2013) and Edwin Soi (Olympic bronze in 2008, 2nd at Pre this year) are always tough, and 2012 Olympic 1500 bronze medalist Abdelaati Iguider is dangerous in a slow race.
|2015’s Sub-13:05 Guys
Bold = Running Lausanne
1. 12:58.39 Yomif Kejelcha ETH
2. 12:58.69 Paul Tanui KEN
2. 12:58.69 Hagos Gebrhiwet ETH
4. 12:59.04 Imane Merga ETH
5.12:59.78 Thomas Longosiwa KEN
6. 13:00.30 Muktar Edris ETH
7. 13:00.31 NR AUR Ali Kaya TUR
8. 13:00.49 Dejen Gebremeskel ETH
Farah remains the favorite, but another win by Kejelcha or a victory by Ndiku or Gebrhiwet would mark them as serious threats for the gold medal in Beijing.
American Hassan Mead isn’t a threat to Farah, but he’ll also race here and if the pacing is right, the 13:02 man has a shot to become the seventh American to break 13. Conditions look very favorable (high of 77, low of 58 with minimal wind on Thursday; race time isn’t until 9:01 p.m. local time) so if the field is willing to run fast, we could see some times in the low-12:50s or faster.
What do you think? Vote in the polls below and the discuss this preview of the Worlds 5000 on our messageboard: MB: Mini World’s: Mo Farah vs. Ndiku, Alamirew, Longosiwa and more in Thursday’s Lausanne DL 5000.
Men’s 800 (3:44 p.m. ET): Rudisha vs. Aman vs. Amos. Need we say more?
|Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot||Kenya||1:42.84||1:44.00|
|Bram Som||The Netherlands||1:43.45|
Three men have dominated the 800 over the past four years, and all three will be in action in Lausanne on Thursday. Since the start of 2012, the world’s 10 best performances read as follows (courtesy All-Athletics.com):
|1:40.91||1.||1.||David RUDISHA||88||KEN||F||1.||London (GBR)||09.08.2012||1296||AR, WR|
|1:41.54||–||2.||David RUDISHA||88||KEN||F||1.||Paris (FRA)||06.07.2012||1276|
|1:41.73||2.||3.||Nijel AMOS||94||BOT||F||2.||London (GBR)||09.08.2012||1270|
|1:41.74||–||4.||David RUDISHA||88||KEN||F||1.||New York (USA)||09.06.2012||1270|
|1:42.12||–||5.||David RUDISHA||88||KEN||F||1.||Nairobi (KEN)||23.06.2012||1258|
|1:42.37||3.||6.||Mohammed AMAN||94||ETH||F1||1.||Bruxelles (BEL)||06.09.2013||1255|
|1:42.45||–||7.||Nijel AMOS||94||BOT||F||1.||Monaco (MON)||18.07.2014||1252|
|1:42.53||4.||8.||Timothy KITUM||94||KEN||F||3.||London (GBR)||09.08.2012||1246|
|1:42.53||–||8.||Mohammed AMAN||94||ETH||F||1.||Zürich (SUI)||30.08.2012||1246|
|1:42.53||4.||8.||Pierre-Ambroise BOSSE||92||FRA||F||2.||Monaco (MON)||18.07.2014||1250|
Rudisha, Amos and Aman have all brought home plenty of hardware during that time period as well, with Rudisha winning Olympic gold in 2012, Aman claiming world indoor titles in ’12 and ’14 to go with a world outdoor title in ’13 and Amos winning world juniors/Olympic silver in 2012 and the Diamond League title in ’14. To nobody’s surprise, the Big Three are #1 (Aman, 1:43.56), #2 (Rudisha, 1:43.58) and #4 (Amos, 1:43.80) on the 2015 world list (’13 world bronze medalist Ayanleh Souleiman is #3 at 1:43.78).
All of which is to say that the first encounter between all three in 2015 is appointment viewing. Aman and Amos went 1-2 in their first two meetings this year in Eugene and Rome (Aman winning both); now Rudisha joins the fray after a commanding 1:43.58 win in New York on June 13.
If the past is any indication, expect something special in Lausanne. The three have raced each other four times in all, with the outcomes ranging from “decent race” to “greatest 800 of all time.” Here’s a closer look:
Meeting #1: August 9, 2012
Race: 2012 Olympic final, London
Result: 1. Rudisha 1:40.91; 2. Amos 1:41.73; 6. Aman 1:43.20
Comment: This was one of the most exciting track races in history with Rudisha breaking the world record. Last place still ran 1:43.77.
Meeting #2: May 31, 2014
Race: 2014 Prefontaine Classic
Result: 1. Amos 1:43.63; 2. Aman 1:43.99; 7. Rudisha 1:44.87
Comment: This was Rudisha’s first race in over a year after a knee injury derailed his 2013 season. He and Aman made hard moves with 200 to go but couldn’t hold on, allowing Amos to come through for the victory.
Meeting #3: July 18, 2014
Race: 2014 Herculis Monaco
Result: 1. Amos 1:42.45; 3. Aman 1:42.83; 5. Rudisha 1:42.98
Comment: This race and the 2012 Olympic final were the only races in history where five men broke 1:43.
Meeting #4: August 28, 2014
Race: 2014 Weltklasse Zurich
Result: 1. Amos 1:43.77; 3. Rudisha 1:43.96; 8. Aman 1:45.01
Comment: Amos clinched the DL title with his victory. The least interesting of their four encounters.
With all three men in great shape and good conditions on race day, we could be set for something very fast. 1:42 is realistic, and 1:41-high isn’t out of the question. We don’t throw out 1:41 casually — only five men have ever run that fast in history — but two of those guys happen to be in this race, in addition to Aman (#9 all-time at 1:42.37).
Aman has been better than Amos this year, with those two victories in Eugene and Rome, but neither has faced Rudisha. And as good as Rudisha looked in New York, running a 1:43.58 from the front on a windy day, questions remain about whether he can do what he did from 2010 to 2012 and separate himself from the rest of the world’s 800 runners. That version of Rudisha would pound the pace from the front, and it worked — no one in history, save perhaps a peak Wilson Kipketer, could have hoped to hang with him. But based on what we’ve seen so far, the post-injury Rudisha can’t do that, at least not against the very best in the world.
No one has any idea where the 800 is going to go this year, and that’s what makes the event so fascinating. Will Rudisha re-form the gap that existed between him and Amos/Aman prior to his injury? It’s unlikely we’ll ever see the Rudisha of old again, but he’s still only 26 — plenty young enough to win a few more gold medals. Or will Aman/Amos rise to a new level and leave the others behind? So far, we’ve seen glimpses at what might be, but Lausanne will provide us with an up-to-date pecking order with Worlds just six weeks away.
Beyond the Big Three
1:42 men Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot have been consistently solid on the DL circuit over the past two years, while Kenyan world junior champ Alfred Kipketer (still only 18) has vast potential. But aside from the Big Three, the entrant American fans will be watching closest is Matthew Centrowitz, fresh off his domineering victory in the 1500 at USAs. Centro has been operating on a new level in 2015 and it’s translated to the shorter stuff too, as he sliced over a second off his 1500 pb in New York on June 13, running 1:44.62. It’s always tough to follow up a breakthrough race like that with another PR, but there are a few reasons to think Centro could pull it off. First, he’s been totally zoned-in this year and USAs showed he’s in the shape of his life right now. Second, and more importantly, David Rudisha is in this race.
Track fans view Rudisha as the greatest 800 runner of all time, but to American pros, he holds another title: greatest rabbit of all time. Here’s a list of the 10 fastest Americans since 2010. Runners in bold ran the time in a race won by Rudisha:
1. Duane Solomon, 1:42.82
2. Nick Symmonds, 1:42.95
3. Brandon Johnson, 1:43.84
3. Boris Berian, 1:43.84
5. Khadevis Robinson, 1:44.03
6. Tyler Mulder, 1:44.34
7. Andrew Wheating, 1:44.56
8. Leo Manzano, 1:44.56
9. Erik Sowinski, 1:44.58
10. Matthew Centrowitz, 1:44.62
The 800 is a strong event globally right now, so Diamond League lanes are hard to come by (Centrowitz is the only runner in the field who hasn’t broken 1:44). We’re sure Cas Loxsom and Erik Sowinski are itching to get in a race with Rudisha so he can drag them to a PR, but Centro is the reigning World’s silver medallist (at 1500) so it’s a lot easier for him to get a lane than Sowinski or Loxsom. Now Centro has to take advantage. Centro’s rivals for 1500 gold in Beijing, Ayanleh Souleiman (1:43.63) and Asbel Kiprop (1:43.15) have both run much faster than him over 800, so it would be a good sign if he could lower his PR even further in Lausanne.
1:44 and 1:43.84 are two good marks for Centrowtiz to shoot for. Only 14 Americans have ever broken 1:44 and 1:43.84 is what it takes to tie you for 10th all-time in US history. 1:43.84 is the PR of three Americans – Alan Webb (2008), Brandon Johnson (2013) and Boris Berian (2015).
Discuss this great race on our messageboard: MB: 2015 Lausanne 800m – What a Great Field – Amos, Aman and Rudisha + Centro!