Ethiopia’s Imane Merga, the reigning Diamond Race 5000m champion, proved to the world once again that he can’t be beaten at that distance. Merga was competing in the Compeed Golden Gala in Rome, Italy. The Gala is the third stop in the Samsung Diamond League series.
Using a powerful finishing kick, Merga won the race in 12:54.21. He had made his move against rivals Isaiah Koech and Vincent Chepkok in the final lap of the race. Koech, just 17 years old, came in second right behind Merga in 12:54.59. Chepkok, who had been doing most of the pacemaking in the race, rounded out third in 12:55.99.
“The race went exactly as I wanted with a not very fast start but a strong finish” recalled Merga. “Of course I am motivated and can fight for the World medals.”
Since last year, Merga has been coached by Renato Canova. His 5000m PR is 12:53.58, which was run in Stockholm in 2010.
In other action yesterday in Rome, American Khadevis Robinson pulled off what many consider to be the upset of the year in the men’s 800 meters, winning in 1:45.09. Robinson, who was in dead last after the opening lap, closed furiously over the final 250 meters to top a stellar field which included Kenyans Asbel Kiprop, Boaz Lalang and Alfred Yego, as well as Mbulaeni Mulaudz of South Africa. “Nobody could have expected I’d win here. I felt good, everything went well and the oldest man in the race won,” Robinson said after the race.
The men’s 100 meters was billed as a showdown between Jamacians Asafa Powell and world-record Usain Bolt. Powell was better out of the blocks but Bolt was the faster closer, breaking the tape in 9.91 seconds to Powell’s 9.93. After the race, Bolt said, “I was so nervous I got a bad start and then kind of started to panic. My coach will analyse the race. I was not proud of the race but I am getting there.”