The world-record holder was upset by Ethiopian Mohammed Aman in cold, rainy conditions.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
In rainy and cold conditions at Zürich’s Letzigrund Stadium, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman upset world and Olympic champion David Rudisha in what was the Kenyan’s final race of the season. The defeat, 1:42.53 to 1:42.81, was Rudisha’s only loss during at 800 meters during 2012 season where he prevailed in his nine previous races, including heats.
“The race was really good,” the always gracious Rudisha told the IAAF. “My legs felt tired and I cannot run good if the weather is not good. I hoped for a fast race here and am a little bit disappointed. It is very difficult to get a good pacemaker to pace for a 800m world record, but this time it was good. It was the rain who stopped me.”
Rudisha brought pacemaker and training partner Sammy Tangui with him to Zürich, and Tangui clipped through halfway in 49.59 with Rudisha two strides behind. The mighty Kenyan had a solid lead after Tangui dropped out a few meters after the bell, but Aman began to catch him on the backstretch, and finally made the pass with about 30 meters to go. Aman, the reigning world indoor champion, set an Ethiopian record with his victory.
“I am incredibly thankful to win in front of this audience with a new PB and a new national record,” Aman said in the mixed zone. “It was a difficult race but I was in good shape. This was the final Diamond League race and therefore, it was a strong race.”
Because double points are awarded during the Diamond League final, Aman earned the Diamond Race title over Rudisha, 14 to 12 points. The Samsung Diamond Race title is worth $40,000, an amount equal to 36 times the per capita gross domestic product in Ethiopia, according to the CIA World Factbook.
“I am very happy – alhamdulillah,” Aman added. “And hopefully next year, I will beat the world record – inshallah.”
The men’s 5000m race also offered an exciting finish, even if there were “only” three sub-13:00 finishers. Pacemakers Gideon Gathimba and Vincent Chepkok were leading through 3000m in 7:52.74 (a 13:08 pace) and Olympic silver medalist Dejan Gebremeskel was running right behind them with Ethiopian compatriot Tariku Bekele, Kenyans Thomas Longosiwa and Isiah Koech, and American Bernard Lagat. The pace sagged slightly on the penultimate lap (63.01 seconds), which set up a furious sprint for the win over the final 400 meters. Koech, who finished fifth at the Olympic Games, clocked 55.17 seconds for the final lap, out-sprinting Olympic bronze medalist Longosiwa to get the win, 12:58.98 to 12:59.24. He also won the overall Diamond Race title with 15 points.
Lagat, who finished fourth at the Olympic 5000m, came from fifth position through the final turn, and passed John Kipkoech then Gebremeskel in the homestretch to clinch third in 12:59.92. Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp, who had been suffering from bronchitis, finished ninth in 13:09.50.
Abeba Aregawi won the women’s 1500m in a lackluster 4:05.29, and also won the Diamond Race overall title. The Ethiopian –who tangled with America’s Morgan Uceny in the Olympic 1500m final sending Uceny tumbling to the track– prevailed in a two-way sprint over Kenya’s Mercy Cherono. America’s Shannon Rowbury finished third (4:07.14), and her Olympic teammate Jenny Simpson, the reigning world champion, came from last at the bell to finish seventh.
“I am very happy,” Aregawi told IAAF interviewers. “After the Olympics I worked hard and trained hard, so now it is good to win the Diamond Race.
The other distance event on the program, the women’s steeplechase, produced two tales of woe, then one of redemption. During the contest, Diamond Race leader Milcah Chemos fell hard over a barrier, landing on her chest. She picked herself up, but crossed the finish line tenth in 9:36.67. That appeared to be a doubly bad blow for the Kenyan because she not only lost the race, but would also lose the Diamond Race, too, where she was the points leader. Television commentator Tim Hutchings called Chemos’s spill a “$40,000 fall.”
At the front of the race, Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa got the win and appeared to clinch the Diamond Race points title, too. But officials later disqualified her for cutting a turn on her way to the inside water jump. That elevated her Olympic teammate Etenesh Diro to the win in 9:24.97, and Chemos to the Diamond Race title with 12 points.
In the sprints, both Yohan Blake (9.76) and Usain Bolt (19.66) both set meeting records in the 100 and 200 meters, respectively. Sanya Richards-Ross won the women’s 400m in 50.21, passing Amantle Montsho in the homestretch.
The second half of the Samsung Diamond League final will take place in Brussels on Sept. 7.