As with many of the Diamond League events of the year so far, they have all promised very exciting spectacles with some of the highest quality fields being assembled. The prospect of this years New York edition was no different with none other than the likes of Olympic Champions Usain Bolt and David Rudisha. Unlike many of the recent years in New York, the weather was at a much warmer level at around 32.C on the track but swirling wind would also lead to difficult conditions in the sprints as well as the distance events.
As I am a distance runner myself, and focus on distance running specifically here on this blog, I instantly took interest into the field assembled for the mens 5000m. The most interesting of entries would be that of Nick Willis, one of the most respected and humble of distance runners on the circuit. In recent years Willis has been prominent in the middle distance scene, posting some very fast times over the Mile and 1500m, running both sub 3:50 and 3:30 in Oslo and Monaco respectively over those distances in 2014. Other big names in the field would include Dejen Gebremeskel and Thomas Longosiwa who both came 2nd and 3rd behind Mo Farah at the 2012 Olympics in the 5000m.
This race would not live up to all the expectations however due to the field sitting off the pace along with the high temperatures. Despite the slow pace of 3000m being hit in a relative jog of 8:12, Gebremeskel would pull out leaving a pack dominated by the Kenyans of Chepseba and Longosiwa joined too by the strong presence of the American 13:02 man, Ben True. After successive slow laps, the last lap was set to be a burn up for the sprinters, offering the middle distance star of Willis as the favourite. However, as Willis and Longosiwa battled over the last 100m, True would bide his time and strike with 50m to go, taking the biggest win of his career, despite a slower time of 13:29.48.
Continuing with he distance theme, the opposite of everything which took place in the mens 5000m would happen in the once more packed 800m for the women. There would be a strong line up of top Americans including the young star of Ajee Wilson who is still only 21. As requested, Wilson followed the pace, going through 400m in about 58 seconds and not much would change from this point forward. The strength which Wilson had showed early on in the indoor season was continued and she would stretch away to win in a controlled fashion in 1:58.83 proving her to be a real force to be reckoned with come August and the World Championships. There were also British interests in Lynsey Sharp and Jenny Meadows who would both post respectable season bests of 2:00.37 for 6th and 2:00.55 for 8th.
Undoubtedly what would be the highlight of this event other than the appearance of Usain Bolt would be the return of David Rudisha. Back in May at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, Rudisha would pull up after only 100m in the 600m race. Luckily, this would only turn out to be muscle cramp and would return to training and said to be at full fitness for this race in New York. Other notable names in the field would include 1500m special Matthew Centrowitz who would be stepping down in distance despite the doping allegations surrounding his training group at the Nike Oregon Project and coach, Alberto Salazar.
A fast pace was requested and the pace maker would go through 400m in 50.10 seconds with Rudisha taking his familiar position sitting right at the front of the pack, dictating the pace. Just as he so dominantly did in the 2012 Olympics, Rudisha would continue to stretch away from the field, hitting 600m in 1:16 and continue on strongly to finish just outside the world lead in 1:43.58. This was a very good marker set, but the most notable performances would come from the two Americans, Centrowitz and Boris Berian finishing just behind Rudisha. Centrowitz would take over a second off his PB, showing promising strength to finish in 1:44.62, however much more surprising was the run coming from Berian. Coming into this season he had very little to his name but burst into the season running a 1:45 800m in May which today was shown not to be a one off run. He would follow Rudisha all the way home, sneaking past Bosse at the end to take the second place in 1:43.84.
Men’s 100m and 200m
What was expected of the potentially great races in the men’s sprint events was not to happen despite the appearances of the two fastest men ever over 100m in Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt. The first event off was the men’s 100m with many fast names including Gay and Nesta Carter. After the shenanigans of an apparent false start with no one reacting under the illegal mark of 0.10 seconds, they got away on the second time of asking. The expectations of the fast times in the the wake of Andre De Grasse’s 100m and 200m double in the NCAA Championships running 9.75 and 19.58 respectively would not materialise due to a string headwind of -1.7 m/s. Gay would eventually come out on top over Keston Bledman with a winning time of 10.12 seconds even after a lethargic start.
There was no question over the level of anticipation whist built throughout the event to see the appearance of Usain Bolt, the six time Olympic gold medalist. However, even before he had run, all hopes of a spectacle had been tarnished by the very strong winds coming down the home straight. As documented by Bolt himself, his start was not the best but was soon up on the his outside competitor, coming into the home straight in the lead. In recent years, this would be the point at which an in-form Bolt would ease away from the field. However, even with the wind taken into account, Bolt really had to work to take the win in 20.29 seconds, showing there was still some serious work needed before facing the likes of Justin Gatlin at the World Championships.