The Diamond League season came to an end this week over two consecutive nights.. Athletes competed since early May to gain enough points to compete in the Finals taking place in Zurich and Brussels. The Oregon Project qualified 3 athletes, Yomif Kejelcha in the 5,000, Sifan Hassan in the 1500 and 5,000 and Clayton Murphy in the 800.
Sifan Hassan competed first in the Zurich 5,000m Final on Thursday night in Zurich. In what would be the first race of a long 24 hours, Sifan took the lead with 400 to go but was overtaken by Obiri with 250 left. Sifan would stay close and launch a final attack with 80 to go but was unable to pass the World Champion settling for 2nd in 14:38.77 to Obiri’s 14:38.39. Coach Salazar remarked, “Obiri is the best 5,000m runner in the World right now so Sifan must get better, which she will and she is excited for the challenge.”
Sifan cooled down and then embarked on a 7 hour drive to Brussels for the 1500m Final less than 24 hours later. She ran a 3:59 for 3rd place, running out of gas with 200m to go. Coach Salazar stated, “I was more impressed with Sifan’s 1500m race than her 5,000m. To do a double like she did in a 24 hour period after travellng was very good. It’s important for her to learn that she can run fast even when tired. All the greats have had that ability and it’s incredibly important because you aren’t going to always be feeling good and fresh.” Sifan will race the Continental Cup 3k and then finish her season with the Copenhagen Half Marathon September 16th.
Clayton Murphy had a tough race finishing 5th place in the 800m Diamond League final in 1:45.97. With the talent Clayton has anytime he’s not on the podium, the race must be seen as a disappointment for him. This race didn’t go well from the start with Clayton having to chop his stride several times with the jostling of the other athletes. When the break finally came Clayton wasn’t in a good position. As a young athlete in his first DL final Clayton gained valuable experience and is ready to race Zagreb this week in a fast 800 before the Continental Cup a week later.
The highlight of the Diamond League Final was the Men’s 5,000m. Yomif Kejelcha entered the race having raced a lightning quick 7:28 3k in Sweden two weeks prior. The plan for the final was to run under 12:50, hopefully close to 12:45. In discussions with the meet directors Yomif assured them he would take the pace from 3k on. He understood this would put him at risk of doing all the work and people drafting behind him but a fast time was more important to Yomif in this off year with no World Champs or Olympics. The race played out as Yomif thought it might…Yomif took the lead at 3K and led two other athletes until the last 100m when they kicked by him for the fastest times in the World in 15 years. Yomif came away with a personal best of 12:46.79, making him the 7th fastest competitor ever over the distance. After the race Yomif was frustrated with the loss but excited about the future and how fast he can run at the distance.