His sizzling run, one of five world-leading performances on the night, was the seventh fastest performance of all-time, and the fifth fastest by the Kenyan who is beginning to make such powerful jaw-drawing jaunts into sub-1:42 territory appear almost as a matter of routine.
There is of course nothing routine about reeling off seven successive 100-metre splits in under 13 seconds apiece, most of them as he powered alone around the soggy track through a slight evening chill, accompanied only by a soundtrack of vociferous chants created by the crowd of 39,295. He covered the final 100 metres in 13.9 to finish more than four seconds clear of the runner-up, Spaniard Antonio Manuel Reina.
"In perfect weather conditions I would break the World record," said Rudisha, whose 1:41.01 mark set the summer before last survived another day. "This time it was not possible because of the wet track. It was simply too chilly for a record."
Nonetheless, he produced a performance that only one man, former World record holder Wilson Kipketer, has ever bettered.
In the race for second, Reina just edged Kenyan Alfred Kirwa Yego, 1:45.62 to 1:45.68.
Bekele bows to Ethiopia’s new 5000m generation
The men’s 5000m was largely billed as Kenenisa Bekele’s last chance to show Ethiopian selectors that he deserved a chance to defend his Olympic title. Instead it became what will likely be remembered as an Ethiopian changing of the guard in the event.
Bringing to mind the races of nearly a decade ago when Bekele first began defeating Haile Gebrselassie, here it was Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet, at 22 and 18 respectively, who left the World record holder in the proverbial dust. Their eyes-out battle over the final lap, covered in under 55 seconds, was won by Gebremeskel whose 12:46.81 world leader elevated him all the way to No. 5 all-time. Gebrhiwet wasn’t too far behind in second, his 12:47.53 moving him to the No. 7 position all-time as the new World junior record holder.
"I wanted to win and when I saw the time I could start to celebrate," said Gebremeskel, whose previous best was 12:53.56. "I was not expecting such a fast time under 12:50. It was for us like Olympic qualification so I badly wanted to be on top. Now I should feel like the Olympic favourite."
Gebrhiwet’s rise was even more spectacular as he chopped more than 10 seconds from his previous best of 12:58.99.
Yenew Alamirew finished fourth with a 12:48.77 PB and as the third Ethiopian across the line presumably punched his London Olympic ticket as well.
Bekele produced a respectable 12:55.79 performance, but in a deep race which saw 11 of the 15 finishers dip under 13 minutes, he finished a well-beaten ninth.
"I’m not that disappointed because I’ll run the 10,000m in the Olympics," said Bekele, who famously took both titles in Beijing four years ago. "I didn’t get to train enough to be able to win my spot at this distance. But that’s OK, I feel good."
Pearson improves SB to 12.40, Culson edges Greene
Sally Pearson too is gearing up well for her Olympic favourite’s role in the 100m Hurdles. Clearly in the lead as she approached the second barrier, the reigning World champion forged on to a clear victory in 12.40, another world lead.
"I was expecting a fast time and if I would have had a clear race it could have been 12.3," said the Australian, who came to Paris pacing the world at 12.49. "I hit hard I think the fifth hurdle but that kept me motivated to fight."
Ginnie Crawford of the U.S. was second with a 12.59 season’s best while UK record holder Tiffany Porter edged American Kristi Castlin for third, 12.74 to 12.76.
The first world lead of the night came in the men’s 400m Hurdles courtesy of twice World silver medallist Javier Culson.
Running gracefully in lane four, the Puerto Rican record holder built a sizeable lead over the first six barriers to carry a comfortable lead into the homestraight. But then World champion Dai Greene shifted gears and gradually chipped away at the deficit over the final forty metres, only to run out of room before the line. Culson clocked 47.78, the second fastest race of his career and third Diamond League win of the season to remain unbeaten this year. Greene stopped the clock at 47.84 to knock 0.04 from his previous career best and just 0.02 from Kriss Akabusi’s British record set 20 years ago at the Barcelona Olympics.
Selsouli leads five under 4:00
In the women’s 1500m, Mariem Alaoui Selsouli shadowed Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin over much of the final lap, before choosing to pounce off the final turn. Powering towards the finish the petite Moroccan reached it in 3:56.15, smashing the national record by more than three seconds with her world-leading run.
In what turned out to be the best quality race of the summer, the first five all broke four minutes as Alptekin’s front-running was rewarded with a 3:56.62 PB. A little further back Ethiopian Abebe Aregawi, who arrived in Paris as the world leader, was third in 3:58.59, ahead of Kenyan Viola Kibiwott (3:59.25) and Ibtissam Lakhouad (3:59.65) of Morocco, who watched her national record fall.
Gay wins 100m showdown, Montsho remains consistent
The men’s 100m wasn’t quite as fast as the cast might have liked, but it didn’t lack for drama thanks to Tyson Gay’s finishing blitz.
Left in the blocks, Gay appeared to labour for the first 25 metres, running next to last. But he gradually made up ground in mid race to challenge and ultimately defeat fast-starting Justin Gatlin over the final five metres in 9.99.
"I tried to be patient," said Gay whose season’s best is 9.86. "I’m strong mentally and ready for challenges. The U.S. Trials was a faster race but here was a better one for me technically."
Gatlin, who was handed his first defeat of the season, was second in 10.03, with local hero Christophe Lemaitre third in 10.08. Jamiacans Nickel Ashmeade and Michael Frater were next, each credited with 10.14.
Less than a week after taking the African title with a 49.54 national record for Botswana, World champion Amantle Montsho followed up with a solid 49.77 run leaving Jamaican champion Novlene Williams-Mills (49.95) well behind.
"I wanted to win this race and keep my lead in the Diamond Race," said Montsho, who leads the standings with 12 points to Williams-Mills’ seven. "All went according to plan."
Francena McCorory of the U.S. was a distant third in 50.27.
Murielle Ahoure of Cote D’Ivoire won her second Diamond League 200m contest convincingly, clocking 22.55 ahead of American Bianca Knight (22.64) to take sole command of the Diamond Race in the event with eight points. Ahoure, who won the Rome 100m in 11.00, will be doubling at the Olympics.
Charonda Williams of the U.S. was third in 22.70, a season’s best.
Koech nearly goes sub-8 in the Steeplechase
The men’s 3000m Steeplechase promised to be fast and it was, although probably not fast enough for winner Paul Kipsiele Koech to earn consideration for a spot on the London-bound Kenyan squad.
Taking the lead as the bell sounded, the 30-year-old covered the final lap in under 60 seconds to take a convincing victory in 8:00.57, more than a second ahead of 2008 Olympic champion and Kenyan record holder Brimin Kipruto, whose 8:01.73 was a season’s best.
"This win means a lot to me, I feel enough courage to continue to compete," Koech said. "My goal now is to win all my races and try to break the World record, maybe in Monaco. This is my Olympics, the European circuit."
In a largely tactical race, Tunisian Habiba Ghribi, snuck past Lidya Chepkurui in the final 10 metres to win the women’s 3000m Steeplechase in 9:28.81, a meeting record for the 28-year-old in her first outing in the event this season.
Chepkurui was second in 9:29.02, ahead of Ethiopians Sofia Assefa and Zemzem Ahmed who timed 9:29.57 and 9:29.89 respectively. World leader Milcah Chemos didn’t make it to Paris.
Conditions impact action on the field
Yesterday Renaud Lavillenie said he was targeting another 5.80m competition. He fell three centimetres shy of that goal but still took home a third Diamond League victory to boost his lead in the event to 12 points. Opening with a first attempt clearance at 5.62m he needed a second before topping 5.77m before bowing out at 5.82m.
Greek Konstantinos Filippidis was second on countback over European silver medallist Bjorn Otto at 5.62m.
Although the heavy rains that drenched the French capital in the later afternoon stopped and the skies cleared by the time the meeting got underway, the conditions nonetheless affected competition on the infield, particularly the programme’s early events.
Levan Sands took just two jumps in the Triple Jump, with his 17.23m season’s best effort in the second round the only performance beyond the 17-metre line on the day. Karl Taillepierre (16.84m) and Harald Correa (16.76m) finished second and third for France.
Yelena Sokolova, who jumped 7.06m to take the Russian title two days ago, won here as well but didn’t need nearly the distance. Her 6.70m in the second round sufficed to move her into a three-way tie for the Diamond Race lead. Shara Proctor of Great Britain reached 6.65m in the second round to secure the runner-up spot, ahead of France’s European champion Eloyse Lesueur, who jumped 6.56m.
In the women's High Jump, U.S. champion Chaunte Lowe cleared 1.97m on her first try to collect the win. She later bowed out with three misses at 2.03m but was pleased with one of the efforts.
"One of the attempts at 2.03m was great so when I'll be fresh something special might happen."
Ukraine's Olena Kholosha was second at 1.95 and Ruth Beitia, the recently minted European champion, third at 1.92.
In the Javelin Throw, an 85.67m effort in the fifth round launched Ukrainian record holder Oleksandr Pyatnytsya from fifth place to his first Diamond League victory. European champion Vitezslav Vesely was second with a best of 83.93m to strengthen his overall lead in the Diamond Race to 12 points. Australian Jarrod Bannister improved his season’s best to 83.70m and finished third.
2009 World champion Dani Samuels took the win in a lacklustre women’s Discus Throw contest with 61.81m from European champion Sandra Perkovic, whose 61.46m best was only one of two measured throws. Frenchwoman Melina Robert-Michon (61.04m) was third.
Competition in the men's Shot Put was on the modest side, with just three throwers managing to breach the 20-metre line. Dylan Armstrong dealt best with the conditions, reaching 20.54m. Joe Kovacs (20.44m) of the U.S. was second with Dane Kim Juhl Christensen (20.02m) third.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
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