The Doha Diamond League event set a standard that may be difficult to match. And it didn’t help that the weather wasn’t very cooperative in Shanghai, as it was rainy throughout, keeping performances down.That made the world leading races by Genzebe Dibaba (ETH) and Liu Xiang (CHN) that much more phenomenal, as sterling marks were hard to come by in China.
The women took to the track for the 1500 chasing the world leading time of 4:05.92 set last night by Shannon Rowbury (USA), and in spite of the conditions the pace maker set sail with splits of 62.3 / 2:08 with several women tucked in behind. Then Dibaba took over – not Tirunesh, but little sister Genzebe (who I’ve come to think of as “Baby ‘Baba). Well I don’t think Genzebe will have any difficulty forging her own identity as she strung the field out as she went through 1200 in 3:12, then cruised down the final straight to finish in 3:57.77 – a meet record, world leader, and national record! And she looked easy doing it! The pack behind her took advantage of her slip stream as teammate Abeba Aregawi was also under 4 with her PR 3:59.23, as seven women were under the hours old previous world leader. Kenyans looked ready to dominate the distance world in Doha,
Ethiopia fired back in this meet as Hagos Gebrhiwet won the men’s 5000 in a WL 13:11.00 ahead of a trip of Kenyans as teammate Kenenisa Gelete found himself in 5th (13.13.23). That should be a walk in the park for the WR holder, so I’m not sure that he’s yet the dominating distance runner of old – in spite of his sub 27:00 last year. Still he’s in the mix and others have to have him on their mind when he takes the track as he is capable of firing a shout like he did late last year.
Liu Xiang fired his own shot today, as several of the world’s top hurdlers came to Shanghai to challenge him on his own turf – including American Record holder David Oliver; Jamaican Record holder Dwight Thomas; World Champion Jason Richardson; and world leader Aries Merritt. There was no challenge however, as Liu showed why he was Olympic champion, World champion and World Record holder prior to a series of injuries add he ran away from the field to win in a WL 12.97 (0.4) with Oliver (13.13) and Richardson (13.16) session bests not coming close. Obviously Liu was motivated to be running at home, but that was domination, and I would have to say that Liu looks to be back to the form that saw him take everything in sight pre Beijing. Hurdlers of the world take notice.
The rest of the meet/competitors were hampered by the elements.Though perhaps the most interesting matchup of the day came in the women’s 200 where Carmelita Jeter and Veronica Campbell Brown squared off. Jeter has been winning everything and leads the world in both the 100/200. Campbell Brown was common off a defeat to Allyson Felix in the 100 at Doha – and this woman hates to lose. If you don’t believe me then you didn’t see the turn she ran in Shanghai. One lane inside of Jeter VCB burned the turn made up the start on Jeter and hit the stretch with a clear lead. But then something happened. Jeter shifted gears and began to close on the double Olympic champion – she doesn’t like to lose either! Just before the line Jeter pulled nearly even, then looked to slip on the track! Both women leaned to the line with VCB holding the advantage 22.50 to 22.61 – and I would say a new rivalry was born. Jeter is definitely a double threat now and the deuce with this pair and Allyson Felix just may be the hottest sprint.
The women’s 400 also got a bit hotter as Jamaican Novlene Williams Mills backed up her Kingston win over Sanya Richards with a very strong come from behind 50.00 win in Shanghai. This time she ran down World champion Amantle Montsho (50.83) coming from way back in the stretch to put serious distance between them at the line. I said it after Kingston and I’ll s ay it again Williams Mills is going to have something to say about how the medals are distributed in London.
The rest of this meet was really hampered by the weather – the above athletes really took on “stud” status for their performances in my opinion. Hopefully the next DL meet in Rome will have better conditions – it will be less than a month to Trials then!
Enjoy Liu Xiang, Jeter, VCB, and Williams Mills below.