Justin Lagat provided us this piece on the distance races, which entertained the hugely partisan crowd, cheering on the Kenyan and Ethiopian elite athletes. (Unfortunately, Diamond League did not provide photos of Faith Kipyegon nor Sha’Carri Richardson, the two most important events of the night).
Either the events at the first Diamond League meeting today in Doha were exceptionally amazing, or we needed to remember how exciting the track and field meet could become. The excitement in the stadium was tremendous, and the noises were threatening to cause false starts.
If there is one Diamond League meeting that attracts the highest number of Kenyan fans, it definitely is the Doha meet. Faith Kipyegon finally delivered a moment for them to cherish in the women’s 1500m race, which was the last track event of the night, after they had failed to get a winner in the other middle-distance events of the evening.
Faith Kiypgegon ran 57.75 for last lap of the DL final 1,500m, to win by one second! photo
Kipyegon was focused on winning from the start of the race. She took to the front, just behind the pacesetter, but was not so intent on following her closely. Instead, she was more concerned with controlling the field behind her. Her aim, apparently, was to stay in lane one and not allow anyone –who was not a pacesetter- to get in front of her. At one point, Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji tried to overtake, and Kipyegon increased the pace a little and maintained her lead. The two would sprint away from the rest with 300m to go, with Kipyegon maintaining the lead to win the race in a world-leading time of 3:58.58 against Welteji’s 3:59.34. Freweyni Hailu took third in 4:00.29.
“254! 254! 254!” Kenyan fans chanted in the stadium after the race.
Winifred Yavi won the steeplechase in WL, photo by Diamond League AG.
Earlier on, the women’s 3000m steeplechase race was the first middle-distance race on the track. It was a thrilling one to watch. Cherop Lengole, who was the pacesetter, did a great job as she led the field through the first 1000m in 2:58.90. It was a fast pace. Four remained with 1000m to go. They were Winfred Yavi of Bahrain, Beatrice Chepkoech, the world record holder, Faith Cherotich, the WU20 champion, and Sembo Almayew of Ethiopia.
In a world-leading time of 9:04.38, Yavi outsprinted Almeyaw, who ran 9:05.83, to win the competitive race as Cherotich finished third in 9:06.43.
No one followed the pacemaker in the men’s 800m, and a huge pack went together through the first 400m in around 55 seconds as the pacesetter was ahead in 53.69 and, at times, glancing back as though urging the runners to keep up with him.
— RunBlogRun (@RunBlogRun) May 5, 2023
The race turned into a furious dash for the finish with 200m to go. Kenya’s Wycliffe Kinyamal was the first to make a move, but he might have misjudged the distance to begin the sprint as Algeria’s Slimane Moula overtook him on the home stretch and went ahead to win the race in 1:46.06 ahead of Kinyamal’s 1:46.61. Djamel Sedjati, also from Algeria, finished third in 1:46:97.
Three Ethiopians, Lamecha Girma, Selemon Barega, and Berihu Aregawi, produced an incredible climax to the men’s 3000m race. With slightly over 1000m to go, Aregawi was already on the shoulder of the pacesetter, pushing him.
In the end, Girma proved that he was the strongest of the three, winning the race in a meeting record and a world-leading time of 7:26.18. Barega was second in 7:27.16, and Aregawi finished third in 7:27.61.