Here’s my event-by-event rundown of what happened at Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Birmingham, and what it all means. This time I’m going in reverse order of the meet schedule. (Video courtesy of Universal Sports.)
Men’s 100 meters – Asafa Powell Wins Again
Does this mean that Powell is finally ready to claim his first major championship title at the Worlds? From my perspective, no. Powell can beat second-rate competition with regularity, and always runs better with a tailwind than with a headwind. With Tyson Gay out for the season, the remaining first-rate competition is Usain Bolt. Do you see Powell beating him? I don’t. While Bolt has yet to be at the same stunning level of 2008, 2009 and early 2010, I have yet to see any indication that Powell has what it takes to beat him.
Official Results – Men – 100 Metres – Final – Wind : 0.0 m/s
Pos Athlete Nat Mark Pts
1 Asafa Powell JAM 9.91 4
2 Nesta Carter JAM 9.93 2
3 Michael Frater JAM 10.01 1
4 Richard Thompson TRI 10.05
5 Keston Bledman TRI 10.22
6 Marlon Devonish GBR 10.25
Mike Rodgers USA DNS
Jaysuma Saidy Ndure NOR DQ
Men’s 5000 meters – Farah and Rupp kick big
By far the best analysis of all the distance races is at Let’s Run. A basic summary of the race: the pace was fairly slow for the first 3k or so and very fast for the last 2k. The leaders ran the last five laps under 12:50 pace, and Britain’s Mo Farah ran 54.08 for the last lap to outkick Imane Merga (2011 World XC champ, 2010 Diamond League champ) and Yenew Alamirew (wunderkind of the indoor season, twice under 7:30 for 3k). Galen Rupp (USA) also outkicked those two, with a last lap of about 54.6. The final times were not nearly as fast as they could have been, but that’s not important. It was a thrilling race that took some thinking to win.
*From Let’s Run: “For comparison’s sake, when Kenenisa Bekele won the 2009 WC title in even a slower race (13:17), his final lap was 53.21 and his final 200 was 26.08.” Beks is about the biggest kicker ever for a 5k-10k specialist, as good or better than Gebrselassie. So going 54 and 27 for the end of the race is not quite as good, but compares well.
*Rupp kicked well at the USATF Championships 10k, not so well in the 5k the next day. He’d never really had any finishing speed until this year. I think the USATF 10k was more telling; I was very surprised to see him run away from Tegenkamp in the last 200 meters there.
*Rupp broke his 5k PR in a slow race with a big finish. Nobody sets PRs in a race like that unless they’re capable of much more.
*The major Kenyan players, Vincent Chepkok and Eliud Kipchoge, were not here because their national trials are this week. Farah and Rupp beat some of the world’s best runners on Sunday, but far from all of them.
*A super-secret gambling-based prediction website has Merga as the world’s top runner and Farah as number three. That will change after this race is factored in.
Official Results – Men – 5000 Metres
Pos Athlete Nat Mark Pts
1 Mohammed Farah GBR 13:06.14 4
2 Galen Rupp USA 13:06.86 2
3 Imane Merga ETH 13:07.63 1
4 Yenew Alamirew ETH 13:08.78