American Paul Chelimo earns the biggest win of his career- London Diamond League day 1 recap

July 21, 2018

Day 1 of the 2018 London Diamond League is in the books, and the highlight — from an American perspective — was a win by the U.S.’s Paul Chelimo in the 5,000 meters, just the second ever by an American in that event on the Diamond League circuit. There were also wins for Ronnie Baker (9.90) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.98) in the 100s and a big 5.92-meter clearance for Sam Kendricks to win the pole vault.

Full recap, video highlights and analysis of Day 1 below; the meet concludes with Day 2 tomorrow. Full results here

Men’s 5000: Paul Chelimo earns the biggest win of his career

Before today, only one American man had ever won a Diamond League 5,000-meter race — Ben True at the 2015 adidas Grand Prix in New York, a meet that no longer exists.

Welcome to the club, Paul Chelimo.

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There were some obvious similarities between Chelimo’s win and True’s victory in New York three years ago. Both took place in the afternoon in warm conditions (it was 80 degrees in NYC and 80 again today in London) and both were very tactical affairs. True’s 13:29.48 winning time remains the slowest in the nine-year history of the Diamond League, while Chelimo’s 13:14.01 today was the fourth-slowest.

There were a couple of big differences between the two races, however. For one, this field was much stronger than the one True faced — True was the only man in the 12-person field who wound up running in that year’s World Championship final in Beijing. The 21-person field today didn’t have everyoneSelemon Barega, the winner in Eugene and Stockholm earlier this year, was absent — but overall, it was very strong and Chelimo’s comments immediately after the race echoed that.

“That was tough,” he told the TV cameras just after crossing the finish line.

Chelimo ran a perfectly measured race to run away from Ethiopians Yomif Kejelcha and Muktar Edris over the final 100 meters — the reigning World Indoor and World Outdoor champions, respectively.

The race began very slowly as pacemaker Vincent Letting took the field through 2k in 5:26.62 (13:36 pace) and it didn’t pick up much once he dropped as rabbit #2 Dominic Kiptarus hit 3200 in 8:38. Once the rabbits were gone, it remained tactical as Olympic bronze medalist Hagos Gebrhiwet led the field through 4k in 10:47.61 (13:29 pace), at which point the entire field was still in striking distance.

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The race didn’t truly get going until the bell, when Kejelcha tried the same move that had worked to devastating effect in Rabat last week, attempting to drop the field with a hard acceleration at the bell. Chelimo tried to follow, but couldn’t get around Gebrhiwet as they entered the first turn of the final lap and rather than recklessly chase Kejelcha, chose to slip behind Gebrhiwet and bide his time in third.

On the backstraight, Chelimo moved into second, eating into Kejelcha’s lead, and he pulled onto the Ethiopian’s shoulder coming off the final straight. The two ran together for the first 40 meters before Chelimo pulled away definitively; the hard surge at the start of the lap had Kejelcha with no gears remaining in the final 100. Edris came from behind to pip Kejelcha at the line for second as Chelimo had a famous victory thanks to a stellar 52-second last lap (it was 52.52 leader-to-leader, so Chelimo’s actual split was a few tenths faster).

5000 Metres - Men  - Diamond Discipline
    1 Chelimo , Paul                   USA   13:14.01          8
    2 Edris , Muktar                   ETH   13:14.35          7
    3 Kejelcha , Yomif                 ETH   13:14.39          6
    4 Balew , Birhanu                  BRN   13:16.04          5
    5 Gebrhiwet , Hagos                ETH   13:16.39          4
    6 Rutto , Cyrus                    KEN   13:16.49          3
    7 Ahmed , Mohammed                 CAN   13:16.82          2
    8 Yator , Richard                  KEN   13:17.98          1
    9 Mead , Hassan                    USA   13:19.81           
   10 True , Ben                       USA   13:19.95           
   11 Birgen , Bethwell                KEN   13:20.08           
   12 McSweyn , Stewart                AUS   13:20.21           
   13 Kipchirchir , Shadrack           USA   13:20.28           
   14 Bor , Emmanuel                   USA   13:20.66           
   15 Campbell , Kemoy                 JAM   13:23.73           
   16 Tiernan , Patrick                AUS   13:24.58           
   17 Hill , Ryan                      USA   13:25.46           
   18 Masters , Riley                  USA   13:33.18           
   19 Jenkins , Eric                   USA   13:33.48           
   20 Yee , Alexander                  GBR   13:34.12           
      Essalhi , Younéss                MAR        DNF           
      Kiptarus , Dominic Chemut        KEN        DNF           
      Letting , Vincent                KEN        DNF

Quick Take: Chelimo ran a perfectly measured last lap to win this race

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Chelimo has spoken openly about his desire to break 13:00 this year, but today was clearly all about the win as he immediately went to the back of the pack at the start of the race.

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This victory came down to two things: Chelimo’s patience, and his fantastic final 400. Chelimo’s tactics have been inconsistent throughout his career, but tonight they were spot-on. Rather than kill himself to counter Kejelcha’s big move, he stayed patient and only hit top gear once he knew he could sustain it all the way to the finish. The result? When he moved hard with 100 to go, Kejelcha could not match it and Chelimo was able to pull away comfortably over the second half of the home straight.

That said, even if you run a perfect tactical race, you’ll still get destroyed if you don’t have speed on the last lap, and Chelimo’s close — he ran in the low 52s for his last lap — was world-class. The combination of that speed and his patience resulted in the biggest win of Chelimo’s career.

“I couldn’t ask for much more; winning it in London is amazing,” Chelimo told race organizers after the race. “What I was doing today was just running really smart and then going for it. [Yomif] Kejelcha made a really crazy move on the back and today I was going to cover that move really smart. I knew I was going to have it with 200 meters to go. Just winning it in London is big, but to win my first Diamond League in London, I couldn’t have asked for anywhere else, apart from maybe the Eugene Classic.”

Quick Take: Other than Chelimo, today was one to forget for the Americans

Eight Americans made the trip across the pond for this one, but Chelimo was the only one who finished in the top 8. Hassan Mead was next-best in 9th in 13:19.81 as Ryan Hill, Riley Masters, and Eric Jenkins combined to take three of the bottom four places.

The only other American who will be happy is Emmanuel Bor, who ran 13:20.66 to shave eight seconds off his pb.

Women’s 3000: Lilian Rengeruk wins; all three Americans set outdoor PRs

This non-Diamond League event, which was not televised in the U.S., went to Kenya’s Lilian Rengeruk, who prevailed in a close finish against former Florida State star Susan Krumins of the Netherlands, 8:41.51 to 8:41.83.

The story of the race, however, was Ethiopia’s Fantu Worku. The 19-year-old Worku, who was 6th at World Indoors, had the lead with 200 to go but stopped running at that point, thinking the race was over. She never did end up finishing as Rengeruk and Krumins streaked away from her.

The third placer was American Katie Mackey, who shaved two seconds off her outdoor PR to run 8:44.47 (though she did run 8:43 indoors this winter). Similarly, American Lauren Paquette broke her outdoor PR to finish 9th in 8:48.65 (though she ran 8:47 this year indoors) while Dartmouth alum Dana Giordano set a big outright PR of 8:55.14 to finish 12th (previous pb 9:07).

Despite those PRs, the times probably could have been faster as the leader, Rengeruk, hit 1500 in 4:27.6 before picking it up and closing the second 1500 in 4:13.9.

Quick Take: Only two women ran faster than Beatrice Chepkoech did yesterday over barriers

Granted, this was not a Diamond League event, but there was still some quality in this field. The fact that only two of the 13 finishers in the race could better Chepkoech’s 8:44.32 from Monaco shows how absurd that mark is.


Men’s 100m Ronnie Baker Gets His 4th Diamond League Win of Year

Ronnie Baker has been consistently good at 100m this year and he continued that excellence in London, running 9.90 to win the 100.

Six guys went sub-10 in the final and the same six went sub-10 in the prelims even though the prelims were just a little over an hour before the final. At Worlds the athletes had more than two and a half hours between the semis and the final.

Baker’s only Diamond League loss was at Rabat to Christian Coleman and Coleman decided to not race here after feeling something in his warm-up.

Women’s 100: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce runs her first sub-11 since giving birth

31-year-old Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, had slowly been rounding into form this year after giving birth to son Zyon in August 2017. She had been competing in lower key meets, and as recent as 3 days ago got beat in a meet in Switzerland running 11.15. Today, she showed that she’s very much one of the best in the world again as she clocked 10.98 — her first sub-11 since the 2016 Olympic final — to earn the win in this non-Diamond League event (her time would have placed her second in the DL 100 in Monaco yesterday).

Fraser-Pryce was pleased, “I cannot complain because I haven’t raced for ages and I’m happy that the run today was under 11 seconds. It’s hard work racing after having a child but it’s not as though it’s anything I’m not used to. I’m used to sacrificing and making sure that my path is right. Being a mother is my first priority and to come back and be flexible with my training is wonderful and I’m so excited about next year now.”

Men’s 400: Abdalelah Haroun uses huge final 100 to win in Qatari national record

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Qatar’s Abdalelah Haroun, last year’s World Champs bronze medalist, earned his first career Diamond League victory by lowering his own Qatari national record to 44.07. Just fourth off the final turn, Haroun totally turned on the jets over the final 100 and wound up winning easily in the end.

The U.S.’s Paul Dedewo, who PR’d on this track last year to win at the Athletics World Cup, got another PR (his 5th of the season) to take second in 44.43. Kirani James, returning to the site of his 2012 Olympic title, was third in his first DL in over two years, clocking 44.50. Remarkably, this was the lowest DL finish ever in 20 DL appearances (not counting one DQ) for James, who missed most of last year with Graves’ disease.

Hurdle star Abderrahman Samba notched a flat 400 pb of 44.62 in 5th.

Men’s 400 Hurdles: World champion Karsten Warholm reminds everyone to not forget about him with his 3rd PR of the year.  

Karsten Warholm was the world champion in the hurdles last year. This year after today he has now run three personal bests at the 400 hurdles, yet until today he had not won a hurdles race. That changed thanks to his 47.65 PB and win in this non-Diamond League event. His previous best was 47.81.

Warholm’s mark still makes him only the 4th-fastest person on the year as this has been the year of the 400 hurdles. The former decathlete still sees a lot of room for improvement saying, “I am still quite new to this event and I am still trying to find ways to run faster. What is nice about this event is everybody has their own lane and you just have to focus on yourself and your own performance.”

2018 world list

1 Abderrahmane Samba   Paris 46.98
2 Rai Benjamin         NCAA 47.02
3 Kyron McMaster       Paris 47.54
4 Karsten Warholm    London 47.65

Women’s 400 hurdles: Little wins with a lean

The 400 hurdles was a battle between the two fastest hurdlers on the year not named Sydney McLaughlin, who isn’t running anymore this year. In the end, 2018 world #2 Shamier Little of the US got the narrowest of wins over 2018 world #3 Janieve Russell of Jamaica thanks to a well-timed lean at the line. Coming off the final hurdle, Russell had a slight lean but Little got the win in 53.95 to Russell’s 53.96.
Olympic champ Dalilah Muhammad, the fourth-fastest woman on the year, was third (54.86) and the fifth-fastest woman on the year, Georganne Moline, was fourth (55.47) — so the top 4 finished in the order of their seasonal bests.

Field Events

Men’s Pole Vault: Kendricks Wins, Comes Up Short of AR

World record holder Renaud Lavillenie, sporting the jersey of the world champion French soccer team, was perfect through 5.86, but missed on his first attempt at 5.92, which Sam Kendricks cleared on his first attempt. Lavillenie would not clear 5.97 and that made Kendricks the winner. He took two unsuccessful attempts at 6.05, which was one centimeter higher than Brad Walker‘s American record of 6.04.

18-year-old Armand Duplantis was third.

Women’s long jump: Brits Shara Proctor and Lorraine Ugen go 1-2

The home nation’s most successful event today was undoubtedly the women’s long jump as Shara Proctor got the win with a season’s best leap of 6.91 meters. Lorraine Ugen made it a day to remember as she went from fifth to second in the final round with a 6.88m jump.

Women’s javelin: China’s Huihui Lyu wins it

Lyu, who won the first DL javelin of the year in Shanghai, got the win today as her second-round toss of 65.54 held up.

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