2019 Brussels DL Final Men’s Recap: Controversy in the Steeple, Dominance in the 1500, & DL Titles for Young Stars Lyles & Norman
September 6, 2019
The 2019 Diamond League season came to a close in Brussels on Friday with a controversial men’s steeplechase, another dominant victory by Timothy Cheruiyot in the men’s 1500, and a sign that maybe — just maybe — Noah Lyles could be vulnerable in the 200 meters at Worlds.
Lyles still won his third straight DL title in 19.74, but the strong runs by 2017 world champ Ramil Guliyev (19.86 in second) and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse in third (19.87) gave hope that perhaps one of them could challenge him in Doha. At the very least, it was nice to see a (somewhat) competitive 200 on the DL circuit; Lyles has owned the event for most of the last two years.
In the steeple, Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale outkicked Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali for the title, but was lucky not to be DQ’d as he looked to have impeded El Bakkali’s progress. Cheruiyot coasted to the win in the 1500 in 3:30.22 as American Craig Engels earned a PR (and the Olympic standard) by running 3:34.04 for 5th. Michael Norman won his first DL title in the 400 in 44.26.
Full recap of all the men’s action in Brussels, where $50,000 and the title of Diamond League champion was on the line, starting with the distance events. We’ve got a full women’s recap here as well as a special article for Ajee’ Wilson, who became the first American woman to win a DL 800 title: LRC On Top of the World: Americans Ajee’ Wilson & Raevyn Rogers Go 1-2 in 2019 Diamond League 800m Final
Men’s 1500: Timothy Cheruiyot wins again, Craig Engels gets Olympic standard
Timothy Cheruiyot has won everything in the sport over the last two years except for a championship race of consequence. He’ll get that chance in Doha in four weeks’ time.
Friday night, he reminded everyone why he is the best 1500m runner on the planet as he went with the rabbits early and easily defeated a fast-closing Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win his fourth straight Diamond League final race (and third straight DL title) in 3:30.22. Ingebrigtsen was second in 3:31.62, his brother Filip third in 3:33.33, and Ronald Musagala 4th in 3:33.90 as American Craig Engels moved up well the final 100 to finish 5th in 3:34.04, becoming the first American man to dip under the 3:35.00 Olympic standard.
The rabbits took this one out hard, 53.78, for the first lap, and the field was single-file behind them with Cheruiyot in third place. There was a slight gap on the back stretch after the first six to the Ingebrigtsen brothers. The pace slowed the second lap to a more reasonable 1:51.48 as Cheruiyot was still behind the rabbits and trailed by Ayanleh Souleiman, Samuel Tefera, Musagala, and then a gap to the Ingebritsens.
Cheruiyot went by the rabbit on the homestretch with 480m of running to go and had a 1.2-second gap on the field and Tefera at the bell. Tefera would fade the final lap all the way to 9th. Meanwhile, Cheruiyot was motoring away and showing no vulnerability. With 200m to go he had a 1.7-second gap on the chasers, who were now led by the Ingebrigtsen brothers. Jakob Ingebrigtsen went by his brother just after the 200m mark and made some inroads into Cheruiyot around the bend, but Cheruiyot had plenty in reserve the final 100m to get the comfortable victory as Jakob was a clear second ahead of his brother. The biggest mover the final lap was Engels, who had been 10th at 400, 10th at 800, and 9th at the bell, and only 7th with 100 to go but moved up to 5th at the finish.
1 Cheruiyot , Timothy KEN 3:30.22 2 Ingebrigtsen , Jakob NOR 3:31.62 3 Ingebrigtsen , Filip NOR 3:33.33 4 Musagala , Ronald UGA 3:33.90 5 Engels , Craig USA 3:34.04 6 Lewandowski , Marcin POL 3:34.36 7 Souleiman , Ayanleh DJI 3:35.08 8 Gregorek , John USA 3:35.32 9 Tefera , Samuel ETH 3:35.64 10 Birgen , Bethwell KEN 3:37.48 11 Simotwo , Charles Cheboi KEN 3:38.06 12 Kibet , Vincent KEN 3:38.76 13 Debjani , Ismael BEL 3:40.04 Kiprugut , Boaz KEN DNF Sein , Timothy KEN DNF
QT: Cheruiyot (and Jakob) were a class above
Timothy Cheruiyot finished 3.11 seconds ahead of 3rd place. He absolutely dominated this race and Jakob Ingebrigtsen was much better than everyone else as well as his brother was 1.71 seconds behind him in 3rd.
Here are the final 400m splits of the top 5.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen 55.8
Filip Ingebrigtsen 57.7
Craig Engels was the biggest mover the final lap, going from 10th to 5th, and yet he lost a second on the top two guys in this field, which shows how good they were.
Cheruiyot didn’t make the Kenyan Olympic team in 2016, but won the DL final in Brussels that year as a 20-year-old. We didn’t give him a lot of attention then as he wasn’t the overall DL champion (back then the champion was done off a points system not the winner of the final race). He’s followed up with DL wins the last three years and is clearly the top 1500-meter runner in the world.
In 2016, Jakob Ingebrigtsen was a 15-year-old and the kid brother of the Ingebrigtsen duo. Now he’s the 2nd-best 1500m runner on the planet and still just a few days shy of his 19th birthday. He sounded like a teenager in his post-race comments saying, “Of course I am happy! To become second in a DL final is just crazy! This is the strongest field that exists, so we will meet again with the same guys in Doha. It was my second time in Brussels, and the atmosphere is still as great.”
QT: A championship race is different
Cheruiyot has only lost once this year and that was in the Diamond League opener in Doha. His only 1500 losses last year were the championship races at the Commonwealth Games and African Games to Elijah Manangoi. Manangoi has been injured for much of 2019, so that makes Cheruiyot the heavy favorite at Worlds, but the rest of the field has to be excited to at least have the opportunity to race Cheruiyot in a championship race as he has been totally dominant in rabbitted races the last two years.
QT: Engels gets Olympic standard
A good thing to have in the back pocket and a nice PR before the World Champs. Engels’ 5th-place was the best by an American man in the DL 1500 final since Matthew Centrowitz was 4th in 2012.
Men’s steeple: Getnet Wale wins as El Bakkali denied once again in controversial finish
For the third year in a row, the battle for the Diamond League steeple title came down to the wire. And for the third year in a row, Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali was denied a victory at the line, finishing .16 behind Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale after losing out to Conseslus Kipruto by a combined .14 over the past two years. Wale became the first non-Kenyan to win the Diamond League men’s steeple title.
The ending was not without controversy, however, as Wale drifted out from lane 1 to lane 3 by the finish, causing El Bakkali to throw out his arm, but ultimately no DQs were awarded.
The pacers were assigned an aggressive 2:38 per kilometer, which never seemed likely to happen (2:38/km is 7:54 pace; the WR is 7:54). And indeed, the pace was slower than that — quite a bit slower, in fact, as the pacer came through 2k in 5:28.52 (8:12 pace). The result was that, with two laps to run, 12 of the 13-man field was still in contention with two laps to go, with only token Belgian Tim van de Velde off the back.
Wale, who won in Rabat earlier this year and broke the Ethiopian record in Monaco (8:05.51), was leading the charge, and he strung out the field on the penultimate lap, with six men still in it at the bell, at which point he attacked again. American Hillary Bor and world champ Kipruto, on the comeback trail from injury, were quickly dropped, leaving four men battling for the title: Wale, El Bakkali, Ethiopian Lamecha Girma, and big-kicking Benjamin Kigen, Kenya’s last hope to extend its string of nine consecutive DL titles.
Entering the final turn, Wale still led, with El Bakkali moving into second on the inside and Girma third on the outside as Kigen could not hang with the pace. The drama began in earnest off the final barrier. Wale cleared it first, with El Bakkali just behind on his outside, flanked just behind by Girma. Wale landed in the middle of lane 1, El Bakkali in lane 2.
But El Bakkali was closing. Wale sensed him picking up the pace, and began drifting into lane 2 as El Bakkali drifted out to lane 3. But while El Bakkali halted his drift on the inside of lane 3, Wale did not, and El Bakkali had to throw out his hand to prevent Wale from encroaching further. That worked momentarily, but Wale still wound up finishing in lane 3, drifting out right before the finish line — though at that point El Bakkali was already slowing. Wale earned the win in 8:06.92 to El Bakkali’s 8:07.08.
1 Wale , Getnet ETH 8:06.92 2 El Bakkali , Soufiane MAR 8:07.08 3 Girma , Lamecha ETH 8:07.66 4 Kigen , Benjamin KEN 8:10.76 5 Bor , Hillary USA 8:13.90 6 Kibiwot , Abraham KEN 8:14.52 7 Kipruto , Conseslus KEN 8:14.53 8 Carro , Fernando ESP 8:15.53 9 Tindouft , Mohamed MAR 8:16.58 10 Bedrani , Djilali FRA 8:16.60 11 Beyo , Chala ETH 8:16.85 12 Bett , Nicholas Kiptanui KEN 8:26.95 13 Van de Velde , Tim BEL 8:41.22 Kipsang , Lawrence Kemboi KEN DNF Kones , Wilberforce Chemiat KEN DNF
Quick Take: Should Wale have been disqualified?
Wale’s offense was certainly not the most blatant case of obstruction we’ve ever seen, but by the letter of the law, he should have been DQ’d tonight. IAAF Rule 163.2 states that “if an athlete is jostled or obstructed during an event so as to impede his progress” then the athlete responsible “shall be liable to disqualification” unless it is deemed to be unintentional. And Wale did obstruct El Bakkali — if he didn’t drift all the way out to lane 3, El Bakkali wouldn’t have had to throw his arm and lose some momentum.
That Wale was not disqualified was not some gross miscarriage of justice — he looked as if he was going to win the race anyway — but he can’t keep drifting out like this in future. As an athlete in the lead approaching the finish line, it’s natural instinct to drift out and protect your position. But you can’t impede other athletes.
Discuss on the LRC messageboard: Drama in men’s steeple final? Should Wale be DQd?
Quick Take: El Bakkali and Wale are essentially co-favorites for Worlds
El Bakkali used his kick to earn come-from-behind victories in Doha and Monaco earlier this year, but he couldn’t do it tonight, which should make for a very interesting competition at Worlds. He has won three DLs in 2019 to Wale’s two, but none of them have come in dominant fashion.
Those two look to be co-favorites for gold at this point, but there has been no dominant force in the event in 2019. The nine fastest men in the world this year are all clustered between 8:04.82 and 8:08.61. One of them is American Hillary Bor (8:08.41 sb), who was 5th tonight and is certainly a medal threat in Doha.
Of course, world champ Conseslus Kipruto is still lurking, but tonight was not a great sign of progress as he works back from a foot injury; he was only 7th in 8:14 after taking 5th in 8:13 in Paris two weeks ago. Still, he believes he can turn things around by Doha.
“To be honest I am happy with this performance after a difficult season full of injuries,” Kipruto said after the race. “It always makes me stronger to race with these guys, and I am confident it will make be in a better shape in Doha. There was too little time to be at my best here, but the three weeks remaining to World Championships should be enough to be ready to go for gold. I believe in it!”
Men’s 200: Noah Lyles wins but doesn’t dominate
Noah Lyles won the Diamond League title as expected, but Ramil Guliyev and Andre De Grasse both ran SBs behind him to show they could challenge at Worlds. Lyles got the win in 19.74 to Guliyev’s 19.86, but this was Lyles’ slowest Diamond League 200 of the year and his smallest margin of victory (although he did lose to Michael Norman in Rome).
Before any Lyles fans panic, realize he still won, and it will be at least 30 degrees warmer at the World Champs in Doha. And hopefully, he won’t have to hold it in next time.
“To be honest, I had to go to the toilet,” Lyles said after the race.
1 Lyles , Noah USA 19.74 Wind: +0.8 m/s 2 Guliyev , Ramil TUR 19.86 3 De Grasse , Andre CAN 19.87 4 Brown , Aaron CAN 20.00 5 Quiñónez , Alex ECU 20.25 6 Vanderbemden , Robin BEL 20.51 7 Richards , Jereem TTO 20.53 8 Edward , Alonso PAN 28.80 Baloyes , Bernardo COL DQ
Noah Lyles’ 200s this year and margin of victory
Rome: 19.72 (lost by .02)
Lausanne: 19.50, .37
USAs: 19.78, .24
Paris: 19.65, .36
Brussels: 19.74, .12
Men’s 400: Michael Norman avenges USA defeat, earns first DL title
Six weeks after their last matchup in the US final in Des Moines, Michael Norman and Fred Kerley returned to the track. Kerley got the win at USAs against a less-than-100% Norman, but Norman earned a measure of revenge tonight, claiming victory in 44.26 to Kerley’s 44.46.
He had to work for it, however. Coming off the final turn, Norman was only third as Kerley and former Auburn runner Akeem Bloomfield of Jamaica were level. But Norman’s final 100 is the strongest part of his race, and he was able to run his rivals down to take the win and his first DL title.
As a result of Norman’s win, the US will get an extra spot at Worlds, which will go to USAs 4th-placer Vernon Norwood.
There was also a B heat of the 400 before the TV window, which was won by Trinidad & Tobago’s Machel Cedenio in 44.93.
1 Norman , Michael USA 44.26 2 Kerley , Fred USA 44.46 3 Bloomfield , Akeem JAM 44.67 4 Igbokwe , Obi USA 44.96 5 Montgomery , Kahmari USA 45.31 6 Cherry , Michael USA 45.55 7 Sacoor , Jonathan BEL 45.72 8 Allen , Nathon JAM 46.17 9 Strother , Nathan USA 47.04
Quick Take: The World Championship final should be great
Midway through the 2019 season, it looked as if we should just hand the 400m world title to Norman. That’s no longer the case. He will go in as the favorite, but Kerley is very close to him. And the way that Norman likes to run — coming from behind over the final 100 — should make for a thrilling finish in Doha.
Oh and by the way, 2012 Olympic champ Kirani James ran 44.47 today in Andujar, Spain, in his first race in over a year…
Quick Take: Did you know a guy who didn’t even make it to the NCAA finals was in the DL 400 final tonight?
Yes, that’s right. Jonathan Sacoor of the University of Tennessee/Belgium was 7th in 45.72 tonight. Admittedly, Sacoor is pretty good (though he was only in this race because Belgium got an extra lane). He ran 45.03 to win the World U20 title last year but only 46.22 as a freshman for Tennessee in 2019. It’s worth noting he’s run fast again this summer, however, as he ran 45.31 on September 1 to win his nationals.
Men’s 110 hurdles: Ortega wins it
The cool temps meant that it wasn’t a great night to run fast, and Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain was the only man under 13.30 tonight as he earned a commanding victory in 13.22.
Expect a faster race in Doha as this race was seriously short of star power. World leader Grant Holloway didn’t qualify for the final and was absent, and though world champ Omar McLeod did qualify, he chose not to compete here. And US champ Daniel Roberts was a late scratch for some reason.
1 Ortega , Orlando ESP 13.22 Wind: 0.0 m/s 2 Levy , Ronald JAM 13.31 3 Shubenkov , Sergey ANA 13.33 4 Crittenden , Freddie USA 13.35 5 Xie , Wenjun CHN 13.49 6 Pozzi , Andrew GBR 13.50 7 Alkana , Antonio RSA 13.61 Obasuyi , Michael BEL DQ Roberts , Daniel USA DNS
Men’s triple jump: Taylor wins his seventh DL title in eight years
Christian Taylor has utterly dominated the triple jump during this decade, winning three world titles, two Olympic titles, and, after tonight, seven Diamond League titles. Taylor had five jumps that would have won the competition; his 17.85 in round two, with a barely illegal tailwind (+2.1) was the best of them. World leader Will Claye was second with a best jump of 17.22 as Americans went 1-2-3-4 (all four will get to compete at Worlds).
This may have been the last Diamond League triple jump, as it is one of the events on the chopping block as the Diamond League looks to streamline from 16 disciplines to 12 in 2020.
Wind 1 Taylor , Christian USA 17.85 +2.1 2 Claye , Will USA 17.22 +1.1 3 Craddock , Omar USA 17.17 -1.9 4 Scott , Donald USA 17.14 +1.7 5 Copello , Alexis AZE 17.02 +0.3 6 Évora , Nelson POR 16.54 -0.6 7 Pichardo , Pedro Pablo POR 16.32 +1.0 Zango , Hugues Fabrice BUR DNS NWI
Men’s 5,000: Belgium’s Kimeli gives home fans a winner
This non-DL race featured mostly second-tier runners, but the Belgian fans got to see one of their athletes put on a show as Kenyan-born Belgian Isaac Kimeli dominated in a PR of 13:13.02 (previous pb: 13:18.19). American Ben True, who was 9th in last week’s DL final in Zurich, got in one last tuneup for Worlds by running 13:16.75 for second.
1 Kimeli , Isaac BEL 13:13.02 2 True , Ben USA 13:16.75 3 Bouqantar , Soufiyan MAR 13:18.74 4 Gashahun , Abe ETH 13:19.59 5 Hendrix , Robin BEL 13:22.69 6 Ringer , Richard GER 13:25.12 7 Bouchikhi , Soufiane BEL 13:28.36 8 Outalha , Mouhcine MAR 13:35.43 9 Raess , Jonas SUI 13:40.92 10 Orth , Florian GER 13:42.92 Al Amri , Tariq Ahmed KSA DNF Debognies , Simon BEL DNF Kiprotich , Peter KEN DNF Petros , Amanal GER DNS
Men’s Discus: Ståhl dominates the competition
World leader Daniel Ståhl threw 68.68 on his first throw and that was enough to get the easy win over Luka Weisshaidinger of Austria (66.03). Five of Ståhl’s six throws would have won the competition, in what may have been the final discus competition in Diamond League.
1 Ståhl , Daniel SWE 68.68 2 Weisshaidinger , Lukas AUT 66.03 3 Dacres , Fedrick JAM 65.27 4 Gudžius , Andrius LTU 65.19 5 Malachowski , Piotr POL 64.78 6 Hadadi , Ehsan IRI 64.75 7 Stunes Isene , Ola NOR 64.07 8 Harting , Christoph GER 64.03 9 Milanov , Philip BEL 60.84