The Monaco Diamond League event is without doubt one of the most exciting – if not the most – events of the athletics calendar year. The extent to which this addition lived up to the expectations was extremely high. There were some of the greatest fields ever assembled once more, exceeding those which were in the Lausanne Diamond League, just the week beforehand.
The biggest talking points going into this event were surrounding Genzebe Dibaba. Only the week before the Monaco event, she ran a completely solo 3:54 1500m time trial, showing excellent form. This would result in there being great talks over a possible world record attempt coming from Dibaba. This was certainly Dibaba’s aim which was made clear in the press conference along with the pace being set at record pace with Chanelle Price taking this duty saying:
“… My agent approached me at dinner in Switzerland after the meet and said, ‘Hey, the meet director in Monaco gave me a call and was wondering if you would be willing to rabbit the 1500.’ And first I was like, ‘Eh, I’m kind of tired.’ And then he said, ‘It’s going to be a world record attempt by Dibaba,’ and I was immediately like, ‘Oh, absolutely, I would love to be a part of that.’ She’s one of my idols, so I said yes. And I was headed to Monaco the next day.”
This script which was set out beforehand would be undoubtedly followed every step of the day by Dibaba. The pace was super fast from the very start with Price going through 400m in 60.31 and 800m in 2:04.52. The only other person to go with this pace would be the Dutch athlete Sifan Hassen but she would be far from able to maintain this with Dibaba throwing down a 60 second last lap to finish in 3:50.07 to break the 22 year old record from the Chinese athletes (despite the fact that many of these time run in the early ‘90s have been discarded due to drug use).
Not only Dibaba would run unbelievable times but everyone behind her was dragged round to multiple PBs and NRs. Notably, Shannon Rowbury of the Nike Oregon Project broke a very long standing 31 year old American record for third place in 3:56.29. Along with this, Laura Muir, Britain’s young talent would also come in with a huge PB of 3:58.66.
The lineup and prospect of this men’s race was just as great as the women’s. It was pretty much a repeat startlist of the 2013 race which saw Mo Farah real the British Record in 3:28.81. Here, once more Farah would be taking on Kiprop over the much shorter distance, looking to gain some good speed work.
Just as the women’s race panned out, the pace from the start was electric with the pacers going through 400m in 53.72. The pace would slow up to 800m with a 56 second lap, yet this was still enough for Kiprop to pull away opening up a 15m ago on the rest of the field led by Farah. The race was well over here and would only become more amazing to watch as Kiprop put in a 54.76 second last lap to finish in 3:26.69.
This pace again would lead to everyone else in the race being pulled around to their own PBs and fast times. There were in total 6 men under 3:30 in this race alone, the most there ever has been ever. Mo Farah put in another great time of 3:28.93 but this was still only good enough for 4th. It was also great to see the excellent form Nick Willis has been showing after a 1:46 800m time trial the previous week, he was able to break the New Zealand NR and break under 3:30 in 3:29.66.
The incredible action would just continue to come throughout the night. Once more in another action packed race was the 800m. This would also show a great starting line up despite the absence of David Rudisha. Both Nigel Amos and Mohammad Aman would take on the 1500m specialist of Ayanleh Souleiman.
The race was as always taken out strongly by Bram Som, the infamous pace maker for these high class fields. the French 1:42 runner of Pierre-Ambroise Bosse would take up the head at 600m followed by the rest closely. From 100m to go it looked certain that the fat finishing Nigel Amos would be too far ahead to be caught. However, the new world 800m sensation of Amel Tuka came around the outside over the last 50m to snatch the victory in 1:42.51 on the line from Amos. Boris Berian of the US also showed more great form with a brilliant time of 1:43.34.
This was again a very surprising result and one which makes this seasons World Championships such an exciting prospect. 800m running this year has been at its highest level once more with a number of men who all stand great chances at winning gold in Beijing, making there no stand out favourite.
The last of the really interesting distances races was the men’s 3000m. This was one of the only races of the whole day where no one would follow the pace set. This would make it a more true run, championship style race. This would be an interesting head to head between the likes of Caleb Ndiku, Alamirew and Ben Blankenship going up against one another.
Despite the pace not being one of the fastest to start off with, they picked it up throughout the middle of the race, hitting 2000m in 5:04. However, with the excellent 1500m pace which Ndiku possesses, the others were not able to cope with his pace over the last 400m. He would ease away with a 55.61 second last lap which would actually take him to a world leading performance of 7:35.13.
There were many interesting things which cam out of this event, giving us a perfect taster of what is most likely to come in Beijing. The most interesting of all is the news which broke after the event surround Dibaba. IN the press conference she sounded her want to potentially double up, running both the 1500m and 5000m at the world championship; however this will not be the case as she wasn’t selected for the Ethiopian 1500m team despite running a world record.
There were some other indicators which came from this which we can take forward when looking at the potential medalists in the men’s 5000m. Farah showed again that despite being primarily a 10,000m runner, he still has lighting quick speed which I believe no one will be able to live with over the last lap. However, this may be slightly challenged by Ndiku who still showed he is a definite contender with his own great last lap, just giving MO something else to think about.