Diamond League 5K Final Preview: Can Grant Fisher Cap Historic Year with a Historic Win?
By Jonathan Gault
September 6, 2022
The 2022 Diamond League final kicks off Wednesday evening in Zurich with six events hosted at Sechseläutenplatz, the open town square on the shores of Lake Zurich (broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m. ET on Peacock). We’ll get to see the men’s high jump and both shot puts and pole vaults, but the highlight for distance fans are the two 5,000-meter races.
The fields are stacked. On the women’s side, world champion Gudaf Tsegay takes on Olympic champion Sifan Hassan plus Worlds silver medalist/Commonwealth champ Beatrice Chebet. The men’s race includes Worlds silver medalist and Brussels winner (as well as 2022 world leader) Jacob Krop, Monaco winner Thierry Ndikumwenayo, Pre Classic winner Berihu Aregawi, and Rome winner Nicholas Kipkorir.
Plus, for the first time in several years, there are Americans capable of mixing it up at the front of both races. Two weeks ago in Lausanne, Alicia Monson came .01 from her first Diamond League victory in the 3,000. And last week in Brussels, Grant Fisher ran Krop close for 4,850 meters before succumbing in the final straight and settling for second in an American record of 12:46.96. No American has ever won a Diamond League 5,000 title so a win by Monson or Fisher on Wednesday would be historic.
The bad news about the Diamond League final is that the 5,000’s will still be run on that silly three-lane 560-meter banked track, meaning strange camera angles and times that won’t count for anything. Just as well Fisher got the AR in Brussels last week.
So could Monson or Fisher actually win a Diamond Trophy — plus the $30,000 and World Championship bye that comes with it? Let’s break both races down quickly.
Men: Fisher can beat anyone on his day; but can he beat everyone?
|SSD||LOBALU Domnic Lokinyomo||12:52.15||12:52.15|
|ETH||BEKELE Telahun Haile||12:57.18||12:52.98|
The fact that we’re even considering if Fisher can win this race speaks to the elite level he is operating at right now. Here’s the list of best finishes by an American in a Diamond League 3,000/5,000 final. A number of men came close to winning the final in the early 2010s but the US men and women have hit a rough patch recently.
|Top American man||Year||Top American woman|
|Chris Solinsky, 3rd||2010||Molly Huddle, 9th|
|None||2011||Shalane Flanagan, 14th|
|Bernard Lagat, 3rd||2012||Molly Huddle, 10th|
|Bernard Lagat, 2nd||2013||Jenny Simpson, 7th|
|Galen Rupp, 3rd||2014||Jenny Simpson, 4th|
|Ben True, 7th||2015||Jenny Simpson, 4th|
|Paul Chelimo, 2nd||2016||Shannon Rowbury, 5th|
|Ben True, 8th||2017||None|
|Paul Chelimo, 6th||2018||None|
|Paul Chelimo, 8th||2019||None|
|None||2021||Elise Cranny, 10th|
Simply qualifying for this final ensures Fisher will improve on the top American finish from 2021. But he should be thinking bigger. At some point this season, Fisher has beaten every single runner on the start line on Wednesday. He should not fear anyone in Zurich.
This year has been a strange one in the men’s 3,000/5,000. World champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen isn’t running the 5,000 in Zurich (he’s in the 1500 instead), and the seven regular-season Diamond Leagues were won by seven different athletes. That speaks to depth in the event right now, but also the lack of consistency. Just about everyone has had a bad race at some point this year. Krop, who was indomitable a week ago in Brussels, was only 8th three weeks earlier in Monaco. Thierry Ndikumwenayo, who ran a Diamond League record of 7:25.93 in Monaco, was 11th in Brussels, 25 seconds back of the win.
Fisher hasn’t run as many Diamond Leagues as some of his opponents — just two this year — but he’s been very consistent, taking 3rd in Monaco and 2nd in Brussels. His off race came at USAs where Klecked beat him in the 10,000. Fisher was also 4th at Worlds in the 10,000 and was in position to medal with 120 to go before tripping and losing momentum down the stretch (he still wound up 6th). Fisher is a good bet to finish in the top 3, but most in the field has shown the ability to win on the circuit this year if they’re on their game.
JG prediction: I’m taking Jacob Krop for the win. Call it recency bias, but how can you watch last week’s 5,000 in Brussels — where Krop led the final mile, then eased away from Fisher late to win in a world-leading 12:45.71 — and call anyone else the favorite? Krop does have one “bad” race this year, finishing 6th in Monaco, but even then he ran 7:33. And the rest of his runs on the circuit have been terrific: 2nd in Rome, 2nd at the Kenyan trials, 2nd at Worlds, 3rd at Commonwealths, 1st in Brussels. He’s the man to beat.
Fisher was four seconds clear of second place in Brussels last week but I’m anticipating less of a time-trial style race on Wednesday so he should have more company at the bell. I’ll pick him for 3rd.
Women: Tsegay vs. Hassan; can Monson back up her big run in Lausanne?
|KEN||KIPKEMBOI Margaret Chelimo||14:47.71||14:27.12|
This event hasn’t been quite as unpredictable as the men’s 5,000 this year, but there’s still not much certainty heading into Wednesday’s final. Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay is the world champion, and if she is in the same kind of form as she was in Eugene, where she closed in 59 seconds to win the title, she should win again in Zurich. But she’s also only raced once since the Worlds final on July 23 — and she lost that race, as countrywoman Diribe Welteji defeated her over 1500m in Silesia.
Sifan Hassan won the 3,000 at that meet in Silesia, but she was just 4th last time out in Lausanne. The winner in Lausanne, Francine Niyonsaba, won’t be in Zurich due to injury. Which means the highest finisher from the most recent DL event before the final is…Alicia Monson.
Could Monson actually win the final? It would have seemed a crazy question to ponder two weeks ago, but considering the time she ran in Lausanne (8:26) and the names she beat — Hassan and Worlds silver medalist Beatrice Chebet — she has to at least be in the conversation. Monson isn’t known for her kick, which means she’s in big trouble against Tsegay, who has run 3:53 and 14:13. But the 5,000 distance should favor Monson more than 3,000, and you can’t fake the kind of strength she showed to bust out a 2:44 final 1k to put the hurt on the field in Lausanne. She may not win, but if she runs like she did in Lausanne, she’ll be in the top 3 again.
JG prediction: The fact that Tsegay hasn’t raced for over a month has me a little worried, but she has been so good this year that I can’t pick against her. I’ll take Monson for 4th behind Tsegay, Chelimo, and Hassan.
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