Jenny Simpson after winning the 1500m at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© DECA Text & Bild)
USA’s 2011 world champion Jennifer Simpson produced one of the performances of the night to win a brutally hard, talent-stacked women’s 1500m in cold and damp conditions at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Thursday (21).
At the bell, Ethiopia’s world indoor record-holder Genzebe Dibaba had a 10-metre lead over the field, with the Netherlands’s new European champion Sifan Hassan leading the chase.
As Dibaba reached the final bend, Hassan was ready to strike, but Simpson was also moving up as home hope Abeba Aregawi, the world champion, was falling back.
Hassan waited until the home straight to make her challenge on the outside, but as she did so Simpson moved outside her at even greater speed.
Dibaba had no final answer, although she withstood the Dutch woman’s sprint to take second place in 4:01.00, as Simpson won in 4:00.38.
Hassan, who leads this year’s world lists with 3:57.00, virtually tottered home in 4:01.62. All three looked like they were wading through ankle-deep mud by the close.
“It was a crazy race,” said Hassan. “They went off far too fast and then everyone got so tired – I just lost myself.”
Simpson commented: “I am so pleased with my race. When the wind was blowing and the weather was coming down on us, I kept telling myself that the most relaxed person will win tonight. Over the last 400 I had a little bit of doubt in my mind, but I saw that they were struggling and I told myself ‘just keep going, keep going’ and I ran harder than I have ever run in my life.”
Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris won the men’s 5000m in a PB and world-leading mark of 12:54.83, holding off the challenge of two Kenyans, Thomas Longosiwa and Caleb Ndiku. The trio had broken clear of the USA’s flagging Galen Rupp as the race approached the bell in the 1912 Olympic stadium.
Longosiwa, who pushed Edris all the way to the line, finished with a season’s best of 12:56.16, and the taller figure of Ndiku was rewarded with a personal best of 12:59.17, with Rupp finishing a distant fourth in the blustery conditions in 13:05.97.
Having led for three laps after the last pacer dropped away, Rupp was left to solve a tactical problem as the leading men settled in behind him. With two laps to go he appeared to slow deliberately and offer the lead to Ndiku, but as the Kenyan led the race out the US runner began to lose touch with the leading trio.
“This is a personal best for me and the world’s best time this year so of course this is a great night for me,” said Edris. “It is all good – good race, good day, good time.”
Kszczot's kick a winner
Adam Kszczot, Poland’s new European 800m champion, had come to the Swedish capital looking to run a time below 1:44 time but, given the conditions, he had to settle for something slower, 1:45.25.
He judged the race with his customary precision, making his drive for home decisively around the final bend to finish clear of a hugely talented field.
Ayanleh Souleiman, Djibouti’s world indoor 1500m champion, followed the winner home in 1:45.49 ahead of the taller Pole, Marcin Lewandowski, who was third in 1:45.76 ahead of French record-holder Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, fourth in 1:45.95, and Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos of Botswana, who clocked 1:46.04.
The final barrier of the women’s 3000m steeplechase offered further evidence of just how hard racing was on the night.
Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi, two strides behind the Ethiopian leader Hiwot Ayalew, came to a momentary standstill as she landed before recovering her momentum to push on for a season’s best of 9:18.39 as Ayalew won in 9:17.04.
Allyson Felix got back to winning ways over 200m, finally overcoming the challenge of fellow US sprinter Tori Bowie after the two had led side-by-side in lanes five and six for the bulk of the finishing straight.
The 2012 Olympic champion, who feels she is still making her way back to top form after the hamstring injury she suffered in last summer’s IAAF World Championships final, took maximum points in 22.85, with Bowie – taking a break from long jumping this year – second in 22.91.
“I’m a championship runner and this has been a tricky season,” said Felix. “The conditions were pretty rough tonight but you have to deal with that.”
Novlene Williams-Mills, runaway leader in the women’s 400m Diamond Race, maintained her pre-eminence as the Jamaican resisted the pressure of Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross over the final 50 metres to win in 50.09, with the US sprinter second in 50.27 ahead of compatriot Francena McCorory, who clocked 50.65.
Javier Culson arrived at the final barrier in the men’s 400m hurdles with a marginal lead, but he had to settle for second as the USA’s Michael Tinsley, last year’s World Championships silver medallist, finished strongest to win in 49.60, with the Puerto Rican clocking 49.84 ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2013 world champion Jehue Gordon, who clocked 50.13.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF