Faith Kipyegon en route to a Kenyan 1500m record in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
For a woman who did not have a time in her head, Faith Kipyegon certainly had a good performance in her legs in the 1500m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on Saturday (14).
Leading for the last 500 metres of the race, the Kenyan kicked even further away off the final bend to win in 3:56.82, breaking her own national record of 3:56.98, as well as establishing a meeting record and the fastest time in the world outdoors this year.
“I didn’t have a time in my head,” Kipyegon said. “I just wanted (to run) a good time in the race and to win.”
Mission accomplished in that regard.
Kipyegon was second to Genzebe Dibaba in the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. She took some ground out of Dibaba over the last lap then, and again closed impressively in Shanghai, running 43.49 seconds for the final 300m.
Tamara Tverdostup led through 400m and 800m in 62.92 and 2:08.96 respectively, and it was well into the third lap before Kipyegon took over.
Hellen Obiri, Dawit Seyaum and Besu Sado stayed as close as they could to Kipyegon, but once she raised the tempo again off the final bend, there was no doubt about the winner.
Obiri (3:59.34) and Seyaum (3:59.87) were both under four minutes when filling the minor places, with Sado missing out on a sub-four by just 0.08.
But there was no denying Kipyegon, who again looms as the biggest threat to Dibaba over 1500m should the world champion run that distance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Kiyeng cruises to world lead
There was also an impressive world lead of 9:07.42 from Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, less than a second outside Milcah Chemos' national record of 9:07.12 and a time which takes Kiyeng up to sixth on the world all-time list, in a race which produced two falls, neither of them at a hurdle.
The early pace owed everything to Bahrain's world junior champion Ruth Jebet. After following Caroline Chepkurui Tuigong through 1000m in 2:59.13 – world record pace – Jebet scarcely slowed as she raced through 2000m in 6:03.20. It was now a race between the runaway leader and the steadily-gaining Kiyeng.
Jebet still had 10 metres of an advantage at the bell, but she was clearly spent. As Kiyeng dashed off the final bend with a winning lead, Jebet stumbled on the inside railing and briefly fell. She was up again and still finished second in an Asian record of 9:15.98, with Ethiopia's Sofia Assefa third in 9:21.07.
Jebet’s was one of two falls in the race. Purity Kirui, who fell in the straight on the second lap, got up and finished fourth in 9:22.47. In seventh place, Kenya's Celliphine Chespol set a world U18 best of 9:24.73.
Another middle-distance world lead, and meeting record, came in the men’s 5000m, won by Ethiopia's Muktar Edris in 12:59.96.
Another Ethiopian, Abadi Embaye, who finished fourth, led through 4000m in 10:30.84 and held sway until he was swamped by Edris, Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei and Kenya's Thomas Longosiwa on the last lap. Cheptegei, another world junior champion from two years ago, this time over 10,000m, clocked a personal best of 13:00.60 for second with Longosiwa third in 13:01.69.
Noted kickers Yomif Kejelcha and Hagos Gebrhiwet, who broke through in winning in Shanghai in 2012, were unable to find a big finish on the final lap and placed fifth and sixth respectively
Shaunae Miller won the women’s 400m in 50.45, well outside her world lead of 49.69, from Stephenie Ann McPherson and Natasha Hastings, who were second and third in 50.98 and 51.10.
Miller led into the straight but could not produce her normal strong finish and only just held off her two closest rivals.
Michael Tinsley came out on top of a strong men’s 400m hurdles field, taking the win in 48.90 ahead of Patryk Dobek and Jeffery Gibson. LJ van Zyl and Yasmani Copello were next as just 0.24 seconds covered the first five finishers.
Last year’s surprise world champion, Nicholas Bett of Kenya, was sixth in 49.31.
Len Johnson for the IAAF