Are we all happy that track and field is back? Yes. Yes, we are.
Monaco Diamond League happened last Friday and Kenyan athletes produced some brilliant performances.
Hellen Obiri was the first to deliver a victory for Kenya when she won 5000m in 14:22.12, a new meeting record and world leading time. Obiri sprinted in the last 250m leaving Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey for second place. That’s the fastest time this year, and a mighty impressive time.
Then Timothy Cheruiyot hung on to win the 1500m ahead of youngster Jakob Ingebresten in 3:28.45, which is outside his personal best set in Monaco two years ago. The pacing for this one was insane by first timer Vincent Keter and Timothy Sein. They went out super-fast and Cheruiyot went with them. He faded a bit from the hard start, but didn’t he was able to hold it together and grind out the win ahead of a hard charging chase pack.
And Faith Kipyegon delivered an amazing performance in her first ever 1000m race, winning it in 2:29.15, missing the world record by just 0.17 seconds. We are not sure if Faith was aware she was so close to the world record, but the crowd sure was. The lights on the inside of the track showed how she compared to the WR. She was so so close. Her performance places her second on all-time list. Again: this was her first ever 1000m race. Seems like worth better when, not if, she’ll claim that world record.
Finally, 19 year old Leonard Bett finished second in the 3000m steeplechase behind Soufiane EL Bakkali. Bett is looking like the future of steeplechase. Another promising future is Nicholas Kimeli, the only other man to run 5000m under 13 minutes in Monaco, Kimeli finished second behind Cheptegei in 12:51.78, his lifetime best. Jacob Krop was third in 13:11.32.
Behold, We Have A New king of 5000m: Joshua Cheptegei
Joshua Cheptegei right after crossing the line. Photo by Etienne Fiacre
Okay, so he’s not Kenyan, but this is big enough news that we’ve got to put it up top: there was a world record at the 2020 Diamond League in Monaco in men’s 5000m. That is still unbelievable writing about it days later.
While most thought a 5000m was not possible, Ugandan star Joshua Cheptegei announced the return of athletics with an exceptional performance on the night. The 23 year old broke Kenenisa Bekele’s 16 year old world record with an insanely fast performance and stopped his watch at 12:35.36* (subject for ratification).
It is very rare for an athlete to have a watch in track race, and there was something so amazing relatable to seeing him reach down to stop his watch at the finish line. When he looks up his splits, he’ll see 3 miles run at 4:01 per mile. Almost exactly 60 seconds per lap. Just insane pacing.
“I've learned that anything is possible, if you have the right mindset and believe. I really thank Kenenisa so much for inspiring me when I started running. He has always been a big inspiration and motivation to me. This record is a special moment for me and I like to thank Kenenisa for his inspiration,” said Cheptegei
His performance dragged everyone else along to great results too as all 10 finishers rans season best, and one national record.
Cheptegei is now 10,000m world champion, Diamond league winner, world cross country champion, 5,000m and 10,000m Commonwealth Games champion, 5km World Record holder, and 5,000m world record holder. Cheptegei wants to dominate the track for the next six years, and it’s easy to see how he could.
Stockholm Here We Come
From Monaco to Stockholm, some of Kenyan athletes went directly to Stockholm for the second diamond league meet – Bauhaus-galan. Timothy Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri, Winny Chebet, Ferguson Rotich and Timothy Sein are already in Stockholm for the Bauhaus-galan this Sunday 23 August.
The longest distance in Stockholm will be the 1500m, an event in which Hellen Obiri will compete, going back to her first love. From the performances in Monaco, athletes have truly been digging in the hours of training despite challenges posed by training during the pandemic. Here is the programme for Stockholm Diamond League.
It’ll be live on SuperSport 8 from 17.00EAT across Sub Saharan Africa. Eurosport across Europe and NBC Sports in the US. Also check out the official Diamond League live stream on Facebook & YouTube.
Nairobi Will Welcome Athletics in October
Athletics has taken off, and we are looking forward to an exciting World Athletic Gold Continental Tour in Nairobi. And the good news is it has a new date so as not to be in the shadows on Doha Diamond League which is on 25 September.
The Kip Keino Classic will now be held on 4 October instead of 26 September. This new date gives Kenya the chance to have big names compete in Nairobi. And the organizers are promising an exciting event targeting 15,000 spectators. We’re not sure how that’s going to work given social distancing requirements, but hope it can work.
Hellen Obiri and Timothy Cheruiyot have promised a great show in Nairobi.
From Athletics to Top US Air Force Post
Many Kenyan athletes run for police or military teams in Kenya. Indeed Paul Tergat was in the army throughout his running career.
It’s the same for many Kenyans that move to the US. Take Laban Sialo, an industrial hygienist at the US Air Force based in Alaska. He comes from Eldama Ravine travelled to the USA in 2009 through an athletics scholarship. When studied at the University of Central Missouri, earning a BA and a Masters.
He then joined the military through the Military Accession Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) programme. Which offers a path to US citizenship through military service, and ends up as a home for many athletes, including Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo. Sialo’s story offers interesting insight to this connection between Kenya and the USA.
Meet Moses Kiptanui - The First Man Under 8 Minutes
Let’s go back in time for a history lesson.
On 16 August, 1995, Kenya’s Moses Kiptanui became the first man in history to break the eight-minute barrier in the 3000m steeplechase. He achieved this historic feat at the Zurich Weltklasse meet when he crossed the line in 7:59.18 minutes, a world record.
High flyer Kipsiele Coming Back?
Paul Kipsiele Koech was superb steeplechaser. He was a high flyer, but Kipsiele exited the track at the peak of his stellar career, turning to farming. Kipsiele holds the third fastest time in steeplechase of 7:54.31, he was a perfect candidate to break the steeplechase world record. But he left the athletics scene prematurely. And now he is contemplating coming back, he is 39 years old.
To Non-Kenyan News
Sifan Hassan to Attack the 1 Hour World Record in Brussels
In Monaco Sifan Hassan had an off day, dropping out of the 5000m after falling well behind Hellen Obiri. However in three weeks’ time the Dutch athlete will attempt to break the one-hour world record at the AG Memorial Van Damme meeting in Brussels on 4 September. Sifan, the 1500m and 10,000m world champion, will have to cover more than 18.517km within 60 minutes to break the record set in 2008 by Ethiopia’s Dire Tune.
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