Friday, June 1, 2012

Diamond League: Rome

The third installment of the Samsung Diamond League meet was held yesterday in Rome. Terrific conditions, an excited crowd, and stellar fields resulted in some incredible races and more world leading times. Here's a rundown of some of events that were held:

Men's 400m Hurdles

The race looked over by the 150m mark as Javier Culson of Puerto Rico stormed to a monster lead, which only extended by the halfway point. Bershawn "Batman" Jackson (USA) looked out of it, but with a massive surge, was able to pull himself into contention, and iconic Felix Sanchez (Cuba) worked his way into the mix to make it a three horse race. Coming over the final hurdle, however, Sanchez appeared to have strained his hamstring, and without pulling up, he simply tripped and laid out, face-first, into the track. Culson held on for the win ahead of Jackson, 48.14 to 48.25.

Women's 1500m

A large, competitive field made up this race, but with 300m to go the Ethiopian, Abeba Arigawe, had a gap on her countrywoman Genzebe Dibaba and Kenyan Hellen Obiri, who were a few meters ahead of the field. Obiri went around Dibaba, but wasn't able to close any of the game to Arigawe, who won comfortably in a fantastic 3:56.54. Obiri and Dibaba finished 2nd and 3rd, and Morgan Uceny (USA) was able to finish in 4:01.59 - well ahead of the Olympic "A" standard she needed.

Men's 3000m Steeplechase

Probably the race of the night, as Kenyan Paul Koech absolutely devastated the field, which contained 2011 World Champion Ezekiel Kemboi and about 10 other Kenyans who are capable of running fast times in this event. Koech, who in the last event ran 7:56 (PB), was below WR pace for much of the race, and looked superb as he completely cleared the water pit each lap. With 2 and change laps to go, though, you could see the effort was taking its toll, and he was slowing. He finished in a new WL (and PB) time of 7:54.31, which was less than .7 off the World Record. The speculation, of course, is that he's trying to solidify his spot on the Kenyan Olympic team, because he runs very poorly at altitude - where their trials are held.

Women's 5000m

The pace was very quick from the gun, with an expected finish time in the mid 14:20s. They reined themselves in, establishing a more reasonable tempo, but with a lap to go, it was another epic battle between Kenya's Vivian Cheruyiot and Ethiopia's Meseret Defar. It looked like a photo finish, and in the end the two were separated by just .03, with Cheruyiot earning the win in 14:35.62. Their last lap was 58.7.

Women's 800m

This was an interesting race to watch because the pacesetter ran 55.86 through the first quarter, as the field had requested a 56 first lap. But the field was nowhere in sight, and even at 500+ meters, when the rabbit dropped, the field was still lagging behind. They were clearly out to race, and it was the youngster, Fantu Magiso of Ethiopian (19 years old), who scalped some of the biggest names in the event, like Olympic Champ Pamela Jelimo, Janeth Jepkosgei, and Caster Semenya. Magiso's winning time was 1:57.56, nearly a full second ahead of Jelimo.

Men's 100m

I wouldn't normally say too much about this event other than damn, did Bolt look good. His form looked like that of old, as he crushed the field, running 9.76. Asafa Powell had a poorly executed race, but was 2nd in 9.91. Bolt's victory lap looked to be under 60 second quarter pace.

Women's 100m Hurdles

Lolo Jones. Lolo, Lolo, Lolo. Get off Twitter and get your head in the game, girl! There were 4 women from the US that finished the race. Lolo was not one of them. Lolo crashed into the first hurdle and her race was done. Meanwhile, Dawn Harper overcame a slow start to win in 12.66, just .01 ahead of Kellie Wells.

Full results can be found here.

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