2022 DL Final Day 1: Kenyans Nicholas Kipkorir & Beatrice Chebet Kick to 5K Wins as Kovacs Moves to #2 All-Time

By Jonathan Gault & Robert Johnson
September 7, 2022

Kenyans Nicholas Kipkorir and Beatrice Chebet used big last-lap moves to win the 5,000-meter titles and clinch byes at next year’s World Championships on day 1 of the 2022 Diamond League final at the Weltklasse meet in Zurich. Americans Grant Fisher and Alicia Monson finished 3rd and 6th, respectively. 

Wednesday’s events were contested as a street meet at Sechseläutenplatz, Zurich’s main city square, with the 5,000’s held on an egg-shaped, 563-meter track and the field events alongside.

The other big highlight of the day was Joe Kovacs’ monstrous throw of 23.23 meters in the shot put – a Diamond League record and the third-longest throw in history. That was easily enough for Kovacs to claim the victory over rival and American record holder Ryan Crouser.

Full recap and analysis below. 

*Full results

Men’s 5000: Kipkorir uses huge move to come from behind and win

Barely halfway through the DL men’s 5k final there were a couple of big surprises as Yomif Kejelcha, Monaco winner Thierry Ndikumwenayo, and last week’s winner in Brussels Jacob Krop had already dropped out of the race (the international feed barely showed the first half of the race, and no explanation was provided for Ndikumwenayo and Krop’s DNFs).

With three 563m laps remaining on the temporary track in Sechseläutenplatz, the rest of the now seven-man field was still together with reigning DL champ Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia pushing the pace as rain fell and lightning struck in the distance. Aregawi would not relent and with two to go he had whittled the lead group down to four – Olympic 10k champ Selemon Barega, Oslo winner Telahun Bekele, and Stockholm winner Domnic Lobalu.

At the bell, Barega had dropped as well, and the race looked set to come down to a three-way kick between Aregawi, Lobalu, and Bekele. But all that surging earlier in the race had taken its toll on Aregawi, who took a wrong step on the infield around the first turn and was starting to run out of gas. Bekele moved up past Lobalu into second on the back straight, but no one was able to gain separation, and as the final turn approached, the lead pack actually grew to five men as Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir, the 2022 Rome winner in 12:46.33 (#2 in 2022) and American Grant Fisher rejoined them.

Unlike the leaders, Kipkorir was full of run and launched into a huge move just before the final turn to which no one could respond. He streaked to victory in 12:59.05, with Lobalu second in 12:59.40 and Fisher third in 13:00.56, solid times for rainy conditions on a temporary track.

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The final 563m lap, leader-to-leader was only 1:26.47 (61.44 400 pace), which shows just how much the top guys slowed down. It was barely faster than the final lap in the women’s 5k (1:27.14).

Race Highlights *Full video here

1. Nicholas KIPKORIR 29 SEP 1998 KEN 13:00
2. Domnic Lokinyomo LOBALU 16 AUG 1998 SSD 13:00
3. Grant FISHER 22 APR 1997 USA 13:01
4. Telahun Haile BEKELE 13 MAY 1999 ETH 13:03
5. Berihu AREGAWI 28 FEB 2001 ETH 13:04
6. Cornelius KEMBOI 29 FEB 2000 KEN 13:10
7. Selemon BAREGA 20 JAN 2000 ETH 13:14
Maximilian THORWIRTH 09 JAN 1995 GER DNF
Jacob KROP 04 JUN 2001 KEN DNF

Quick Take: Credit to Nicholas Kipkorir to sticking with it  / The pacing in this one was crazy.

When you’re dropped in a race like this, it can be easy to feel sorry for yourself and pack it in, but neither Kipkorir nor Fisher did that today. Kipkorir smelled blood on the last lap and didn’t just put himself back in the race, he seized control with a big move of his own and earned a deserved victory. 

Tonight’s race was also further proof that there is very little separating the top 5000m men in the world right now. Before tonight there were seven 3000 or 5000s held on the Diamond League circuit and seven different winners. 

Kipkorir entered Worlds as the world leader at 12:46 but was only 7th there. But he was 3rd in Brussels last week and now he’s the Diamond League champion. Meanwhile the guys who won the last two DL events before Worlds, Thierry Ndikumwenayo and Jacob Krop, both wound up dropping out. If you ran tonight’s race 10 times, you would probably get five different winners. 

Putting the event even more in flux – or maybe not – is the fact that there are two men who are undefeated in the 5000 this year that weren’t in this race. Half marathon world record holder and half marathon world champion Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda won the Commonwealth title over both Krop and Kipkorir in his lone 5000 of the year in 13:08.

And Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who was brilliant in winning the world title in July and European title in August, didn’t run a DL 5000 all season. Now if they ran this race 10 times with Ingebrigtsen in it, we think he wins it 9 or 10 times but we’ll have to wait for the years to come to see if he ends up being unbeatable in 5000s run over 12:50.

If you are wondering how Kipkorir and Fisher got back in this one, it’s because the top guys had nothing left at the end. It would be amazing to see 400m splits for this race. Instead all we have is the final eight 563m splits as well as the 1k splits but they tell the story pretty well.

563 meter Lap times

1 – 1:28.19

2 – 1:28.96

3 – 1:27.29

4 – 1:26.38

5 – 1:30.51

6 – 1:26.76

7 – 1:29.20

8 – 1:26.47

1k Split Times

1k – 2:35.15 

2k – 2:36.19 (5:11.35)

3k – 2:34.79 (7:46.14)

4k – 2:36.97 (10:23.11)

5k – 2:35.94 (12:59.05)

We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a 5k that featured a mass sprint finish where the last 1k wasn’t the fastest 1k of the night but that’s what happened tonight. The last km was run in 2:35.94 but the third was run in 2:34.79 and the first in 2:35.15. The last 563-meter lap amazingly also wasn’t the fastest of the night. That last lap took 86.47 seconds (which is 61.44 400 pace, 12:47.9 5k pace) whereas the 5th to last lap was run in 86.38 (61.37 400 pace).

Quick Take: If you’re going to make the 5k part of the street meet, it needs to be covered better

After silver at Worlds and a world-leading 12:45 win in Brussels five days ago, Kenya’s Jacob Krop was the favorite heading into this race. But he and Thierry Ndikumwenayo wound up dropping out early on and no one who watched the international broadcast was provided with a reason why as the feed was showing high jump celebrations rather than the race.

Clearly the announcers weren’t to blame – because it was a street meet, there was no way for them to see the entire race from their seats which means they were reliant on splits alone when the race wasn’t being shown on their monitors. And there was a lightning storm during the event which may have led to some technical difficulties.

But this shows one of the drawbacks to a street meet. Had this 5k been in the stadium, announcers Steve Cram and Chris Dennis could have kept an eye on it from their seats even if the broadcast was showing field events. Out in the city center, they were as reliant on video as we were and no one was able to explain why two of the top guys in the field couldn’t even make it 2k into the race.

Women’s 5000: Chebet kicks best

Worlds silver medalist Beatrice Chebet of Kenya turned the tables on Ethiopian world champion Gudaf Tsegay in the home straight to earn her first Diamond League title in 14:31.03. Chebet, who earned silver at Worlds and gold at Commonwealths this summer, earned her bye to Worlds next year by using a late inside move to sprint to victory in a four-way kick down the track on Sechseläutenplatz.

The race began at a fairly honest pace, and by the time the pacemaker dropped just before two kilometers (5:47.08), a group of six had separated from the field, with Tsegay and Chebet together up front, two meters ahead of Sifan Hassan, Margaret Kipkemboi, Ejgayehu Taye, and American Alicia Monson.

That group was still mostly intact at 3k (8:43.71), but Monson, five meters back, was on personal best pace (14:31.11) and starting to tire, falling five meters behind. But Chebet, who had taken the lead from Tsegay, wasn’t interested in pushing the pace, allowing Monson to latch onto the group and eventually take the lead with two 563-meter laps to go.

The 3:03 fourth kilometer meant all six women were still in with a chance at the bell, with Monson, Tsegay, and Taye three abreast. The pace would pick up on the back straight, with Tsegay seizing the lead and Taye following into second with Chebet in third. It was still those three plus Kipkemboi on the final turn (Hassan and Monson had fallen off), and Chebet was content to stay patient on the inside of the three-lane track before making a hard move off the turn and sprinting into the lead. 

No one could catch her as Chebet won thanks to a 2:43 final kilometer. Kipkemboi made it a Kenyan 1-2, taking 2nd in 14:31.52, while Tsegay, who is doubling back for the 1500 on Thursday, was 3rd in 14:32.11. Monson finished 6th in 14:37.22 – six seconds off her pb (though times won’t count from this race due to the oversize track) – to record the best finish by an American woman in the DL 5k final since Shannon Rowbury was 5th in 2016.

Race Highlights *Full video here

1. Beatrice CHEBET 05 MAR 2000 KEN 14:32
2. Margaret Chelimo KIPKEMBOI 09 FEB 1993 KEN 14:32
3. Gudaf TSEGAY 23 JUN 1997 ETH 14:33
4. Ejgayehu TAYE 10 FEB 2000 ETH 14:33
5. Sifan HASSAN 01 JAN 1993 NED 14:38
6. Alicia MONSON 13 MAY 1998 USA 14:38
7. Hawi FEYSA 01 FEB 1999 ETH 14:58
8. Amy-Eloise MARKOVC 05 AUG 1995 GBR 15:29
9. Marta GARCÍA 01 JAN 1998 ESP 15:50
10. Rose DAVIES 21 DEC 1999 AUS 16:08

Quick Take: The women’s 5,000 is in an interesting place heading into 2023

Coming into the year, we expected Sifan Hassan and Francine Niyonsaba to dominate the women’s 5,000 this year. It didn’t play out that way at all as Hassan was still wiped from her Tokyo triple and never regained her old form while Niyonsaba was hurt and missed most of the year (she did win all four of her races though).

Gudaf Tsegay was the world champ, but she didn’t win either of her DL appearances, while the world record holder Letesenbet Gidey didn’t win any of her three 5k races this year and was only 5th at Worlds.

All that means the event is in a very interesting place heading into next season. Will Hassan and Niyonsaba return to full strength and dominate as they were expected to this year? Will Tsegay or Chebet go up a level? Anything is in play.

Quick Take: Another solid run from Alicia Monson

Monson was getting dropped until the pace started to slack in the fourth kilometer, and she took advantage of that lag to move to the front of the race. Monson couldn’t summon the same final kilometer as she did in Lausanne two weeks ago, but she held her own in this one and took 6th against a very strong field.

Monson still has some work to do on her kick, but if she stays healthy moving forward, she should continue to make fitness gains – she’s still only 24 years old. It was a surprise to see her mix it up for the win in Lausanne, but it won’t be moving forward. She’s the real deal.

Quick Take: Is the DL final the appropriate venue for a city center track?

Credit to Weltklasse and the Diamond League for trying something different. The atmosphere for the events today was fantastic, particularly for the field events.

That being said, we’re not sure a lumpy 560-meter temporary track is the appropriate place to stage one of the most important track races of the year. A track in the city center might be better suited for a regular Diamond League event, not the final, but then again runners might not want to run a regular season event on such a track, particularly if the times don’t count. 

And while the DL final doesn’t need to be about times, it’s a shame for Chebet that her 14:31.03 today won’t count. It would have been a personal best (her pb is 14:34.55) and you have to think she could have gone even faster on a normal track without some of the tight turns of the temporary track. We sure hope the times count for world ranking purposes.

Men’s Shot: Kovacs moves to #2 all-time

At the start of 2021, it had been more than 30 years since a man had thrown beyond 23 meters in the shot put. Now two Americans have done it in 2022 alone as Joe Kovacs joined world champ Ryan Crouser in the 23 club in Zurich.

Kovacs, whose previous pb was the 22.91m he threw to win the 2019 Worlds, opened with a strong 22.67m in round one before really unleashing in round two with a heave of 23.23m. He’d throw 22 meters twice more for four 22m throws in total, but none were close to his second throw, which puts him #2 on the all-time list. Only Crouser has ever thrown farther (23.37 WR at the ‘21 Olympic Trials and 22.30 at the ‘21 Olympics). Crouser was 2nd today with a best of 22.74m. 

“I am super excited,” Kovacs said. “I had so many throws this year over 22.80m. So I feel like I was building and building. It feels good to finally click the box and be a 23m shot putter.

“There is a bigger throw left in there. So it feels good to walk away from a PR and I want more, but it is also exciting because I know the level is getting better and better.”

2023 is going to be a big year for Kovacs because his wife is currently pregnant with twins. But he still feels he can throw farther next year.

“I expect to get enough sleep to open up the season and be in good shape. You do not want to go backwards. If you have a level you want to stay at that level. Now with a throw of 23, my goal for next year is to be able to achieve 23.50m.”

1. Joe KOVACS 28 JUN 1989 USA 23.23
2. Ryan CROUSER 18 DEC 1992 USA 22.74
3. Tom WALSH 01 MAR 1992 NZL 21.90
4. Jacko GILL 20 DEC 1994 NZL 21.51
5. Filip MIHALJEVIĆ 31 JUL 1994 CRO 21.43
6. Nick PONZIO 04 JAN 1995 ITA 20.71

Women’s Shot: Ealey adds DL title to world title

American Chase Ealey closed out a perfect 2022 outdoor campaign by winning her 11th meet of the season, adding the Diamond League crown to her US and world titles. She won this one handily as Ealey threw 20.19m in round three on a day when no one else threw beyond 19.56m.

1. Chase EALEY 20 JUL 1994 USA 20.19
2. Sarah MITTON 20 JUN 1996 CAN 19.56
3. Auriol DONGMO 03 AUG 1990 POR 19.46
4. Jessica SCHILDER 19 MAR 1999 NED 19.06
5. Danniel THOMAS-DODD 11 NOV 1992 JAM 19.04
6. Fanny ROOS 02 JAN 1995 SWE 18.37

Women’s Pole Vault: Kennedy perseveres

Commonwealth champ Nina Kennedy of Australia missed at least one attempt at her final three heights but wound up clearing all three to become the Diamond League champion. The final attempt was at 4.81 meters, a season’s best, and she made it on her third try to defeat world indoor champ Sandi Morris.

1. Nina KENNEDY 05 APR 1997 AUS 4.81
2. Sandi MORRIS 08 JUL 1992 USA 4.76
3. Tina ŠUTEJ 07 NOV 1988 SLO 4.61
4. Roberta BRUNI 08 MAR 1994 ITA 4.61
5. Wilma MURTO 11 JUN 1998 FIN 4.61
6. Aikaterini STEFANIDI 04 FEB 1990 GRE 4.51
7. Angelica MOSER 09 OCT 1997 SUI 4.51

Men’s High Jump: Tamberi caps big week in style

With world champ Mutaz Essa Barshim surprisingly clearing just one bar (2.18m), the men’s high jump came down to a showdown between Barshim’s co-Olympic champ Gianmarco Tamberi and JuVaughn Harrison of the USA. Both men were the only ones to clear 2.30m and both had just one miss to that point, making 2.32m a crucial height. Tamberi missed while Harrison cleared it, giving Harrison the lead, only for Tamberi to respond by clearing 2.34m.

Harrison would clear 2.34m as well, but it took him three attempts to Tamberi’s two, giving Tamberi the title – and adding to his joy a week after getting married.

1. Gianmarco TAMBERI 01 JUN 1992 ITA 2.34
2. JuVaughn HARRISON 30 APR 1999 USA 2.34
3. Django LOVETT 06 JUL 1992 CAN 2.27
4. Andriy PROTSENKO 20 MAY 1988 UKR 2.24
5. Hamish KERR 17 AUG 1996 NZL 2.21
6. Mutaz Essa BARSHIM 24 JUN 1991 QAT 2.18

Talk about the meet on our world-famous messageboard / fan forum.

MB: Official Zurich DL Finale Day 1 Discussion Thread

MB: Can Grant Fisher or Alicia Monson win the 2022 Diamond League 5000 final on Wednesday?

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