Mo Farah comes off his sterner test since emerging as a serious gold medal contender in Daegu with flying colours as he beats great Bernard Lagat where his strength lies; in a more tactical late burn-up race and still shattering the British record into a new figure of 12:53.11. On top of that, in a race that Lagat still runs faster than ever in a new American record of 12:53.60. What a race!

Mo Farah‘s burgeoning fame, reputation and unbeaten winning run came to the ultimate test on the way as the 5000m race shaped up past the middle stages round the track in Monaco on Friday night, with the laps suddenly dropping off to 64 secs.

It was the scenario looming in the minds of many as probably the achilles heel in the powerful armoury of the double European champion as among a star-packed field racing against him was a certain man; a legend and a master of tactics, Bernard Lagat, a man who possesses a deadly kick and who simply feels so much at home when a race comes to a late fast burn-up. Further, a man back to his very best and maybe even slightly better as his season so far suggests.

Farah had the element of surprise on his side when he destroyed a superb field, and Mohammed Mourhit‘s European record in the process, over 10000m in Eugene and he was the host when he comprehensively saw off Imane Merga (ETH) for a second time on the trot in a relatively slow race with a fierce late burn-up in Birmingham over 5000m.

But now he was the target and the centre of attention and had come under the most demanding situation as Lagat was stalking his moves and was looking particularly comfortable right behind him. Yet, once again, he turned equal to a mighty challenge and came off with flying colours, coping superbly with everything thrown at along the way, to firmly establish himself at the top of global distance running.

Unfazed and composed, he stuck to his guns and eased to the front in the penultimate lap to control affairs, forcing the pace towards the bell  as he led a healthy bunch tucked behind with Lagat biding his time, while Merga had resorted to all possible means to remain close in contention to evade an embarrassing third straight defeat – the previous two laps saw him send both Gallen Rupp and Chris Solinsky (USA) crashing out.

Into the final lap, he wound up the race in trademark fashion to stretch the field up the back straight, kicking hard 200m out for home – nonetheless Lagat could not be undone or shaken still, coming strongly back at him round the second half of the bend. This was the ultimate test, coming under immense pressure from a man boasting a 3:26 speed over 1500m, but Mo amazed once again as he somehow reached a last resource of strength and dug deep again to grind out a crucial edge that he held through the home stretch for a massive victory. The American could find no answer this time round. “There can be only one” somewhat sounded in the end.

Such was the intensity of that fierce duel round the last lap, most vividly impressed in their faces as the replays of the last stages played on, that it took a few moments before everyone realised that Farah had also smashed the British record to a new mark of 12:53.11 in the process, having covered the last 800m in around 1:53.

He dit it again despite a patchy race pacewise recommending that he could as well have drawn under 12:50 at a more even pace while he beat Lagat at his best as the screen board indicated a new American record of 12:53.60 on the part of the latter. As importantly, he had not only answered any questions posed but also raised even more in the minds of his rivals over how he could get beaten, which is going to be instrumental in the mental game heading to Daegu.

Isaiah Kiplangat Koech (KEN) was third in an outdoor World Youth best of 12:54.18 and Merga followed well beaten again in 12:55.47 as seven runners overall, rounded out by Tariku Bekele, dipped under 13 mins to display the quality and depth of the race.

Idowu prevails again

Following the premature departure of Teddy Tamgho from the scene due to injury, World and European champion Phillips Idowu‘s greatest opponent might be complacency as he very much turns a huge favourite to claim a second world title in a row. He is vastly experienced, though, to cope with that sneaky situation.

Anyway, he did somewhat struggle to assert his authority on the field as he couldn’t build on a leading second-round 17.36m (-0.6m/sec) to come under pressure from in-form Alexis Copello in the late stages as the Cuban reached 17.26 (0.2m/sec) and 17.25 (0.1m/sec) in his last two efforts. But he eventually held on to another big win on the road and stretch his impressive run this season.

Whether his ongoing rift with Charles van Commennee had any impact on his performance is hard to tell but he needs to leave that behind him and focus solely on his competitive goals where Copello could serve as a challenge to keep him on his toes on a recent 17.68m in Spain.

Ukrainian bolt-from-the-blue Sheryf El-Sheryf sank deep in such a high quality field and showed that he is not yet a triple jumper of the calibre that his startling 17.72m the previous weekend in Ostrava suggests, therefore forming hardly any threat. But what can really happen if everything clicks together on the occasion!

Offili-Porter smashes her British record

For those who were quick to write off Tiffany Offili-Porter as a potential medal contender or assert that she switched to Britain because she was never going to make the US team, Monaco’s women’s sprint hurdles race must have given plenty of food for thought to revise their hasty assessments.

Olympic silver medalist Sally Pearson continued to dictate proceedings in commanding manner as she swept to a convincing win in 12.51 secs (0.9m/sec) ahead of Kellie Wells, runner-up in 12.58 secs, but narrowly behind the American dipped the 23-year-old Brit to shatter her recent UK record of 12.77 secs at Hengelo into a swift 12.60 secs for third.

That also doubled as a big new PB to erase that 12.73 secs dating to her ‘American’ days and saw her move up to fifth in the world rankings this season, rising as a serious medal prospect in the wake. For good measure, the scalps of Danielle Carruthers (12.76) and Olympic champion Dawn Harper (12.79) offer a substantial mental boost as Daegu looms large on the horizon.

The rest of the Brits…

European champion Dai Greene suffered his first defeat after two back-to-back victories in the Diamond League series but maintained his record of top three finishes this season intact as he came a well convincing third in 48.43 secs, coming back from illness. Therefore, drawing plenty of positives from the race.

Two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor underlined his own class and challenge as he powered to a commanding win in 47.97 secs over compatriot Bershawn Jackson, second in 48.23, while early season leader LJ van Zyl came well off the pace in fourth in 48.72 secs.

Lisa Dobriskey got what she came for in the form of an A standard of 4:04.76 back in eighth place in the women’s 1500m as she maintains her swift recovery of form before heading to the UK Trials where she is going to face Friday revelation Hannah England, who replaced her at the top of the British rankins through a huge PB of 4:01.89 a little later that night in Barcelona.

The woman who hung on to the world title by a mere 0.01 secs ahead of the Briton in Berlin, Maryam Yusuf Jamal (BRN), was a firm winner in 4:00.59 followed by Morocco’s Ibtissam Lakhouad in 4:01.09 (SB) and American Morgan Uceny in a PB of 4:01.51.

Finally, Goldie Sayers was fourth with a third-round 60.97m in a high quality competition that saw Barbora Spotakova (CZE) launch a massive 69.45m to mount the top of the global rankings, as Christina Obergfoll (GER) fared well below at 64.86m and Latvia’s Madara Palameira was third at 62.06.

The performance of the meeting, and marginally shy of a dream curtain-drawer of a world record, was laid out by Olympic champion Brimin Kiprop Kipruto who rode out a furious pace set by countryman Ezekiel Kemboi before he stormed round the last 250m to cross the line a mere hundredth of a second outside Saif Saaeed Shaheen‘s all-time topper in 7:53.64 in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. It can’t get closer than this and hopefully he won’t live to regret slightly slowing down before the final barrier.

Kemboi held on for a clear second in a PB of 7:55.76 and Paul Kipchiele Koech steered into third in a SB of 7:57.32 to make it the second race in history to witness three men inside 8 mins, the other 10 years back in Brussels when Brahim Boulami (MAR) set a then world record of 7:55.28.

Usain Bolt had to sweat before he finally got to pip compatriot Nesta Carter on the line in the men’s 100m, both setting SBs of 9.88 and 9.90 secs respectively (1.0m/sec), while Carmelita Jeter ran a storming bend and held her form nicely down the home stretch in a PB of 22.20 secs (-0.4m/sec) to upset triple world champion Allyson Felix in the women’s 200m, sending out a clear message of her intentions on the big stage this season. For her part, the latter still came out with a SB of 22.32 secs.

Full Results

http://www.diamondleague-monaco.com/en/Program/Overview/

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