03 October, 2019

2019 Rewind - Long Distance

  • © IAAF Diamond League

The long distance events saw a handful of jaw-dropping records and a smattering of surprises as a few athletes got their hands on the Diamond Trophy for the first time in 2019. A look back at how Getnet Wale, Beatrice Chepkoech and co. were crowned Diamond League Champions last season.

5/3000m Men

The 5000m Diamond Trophy looked set to be heading to familiar shores as Ethiopians dominated the first four meetings on the Road To The Final. Yomif Kejelcha kickstarted proceedings with a world leading 13:04.16 in Shanghai, and there were further world leads for compatriots Telahun Haile Bekele and Selemon Barega in Rome and Oslo before Kejelcha picked up a second victory in Lausanne to top the qualification standings. 

Barega had picked up three second place finishes as well as his victory in Oslo, making him and Kejelcha the clear favourites ahead of the final in Zurich. Yet the Ethiopians all went home empty-handed in the end, as 23-year-old pretender Joshua Cheptegei staged a late coup in the Letzigrund Stadium, winning the final with a PB of 12:57.41 to become the first Ugandan ever to be crowned Diamond League Champion. 

5/3000m Women

Reigning champion Hellen Obiri got her title defence off to a perfect start with a world-leading 8:25.60 in the 3000m in Doha, while fellow Kenyan Agnes Tirop staked her claim for the Diamond Trophy with a world lead in the 5000m in Stockholm.

2019, though, was nothing if not the year of Sifan Hassan. The Dutch star shocked the world with a staggering performance in Stanford, setting a new Diamond League and European record in the 3000m with a breathtaking 8:18.49. Not content with just one title charge, Hassan then promptly broke the mile world record in Monaco, cementing her status as a firm favourite for the title in both the 1500m and the 5000m. 

Her heroics in Monaco seemed to take it out of her a little as she was beaten by Obiri in the longer distance event in London a week later. By the time the final rolled around, however, Hassan was back to her best, and she swept to a second Diamond Trophy in the space of a week with 5000m victory in Brussels.

3000m Steeplechase Women

After her world record run in Paris last year, Diamond Trophy holder Beatrice Chepkoech was the undisputed woman to beat in the steeplechase in 2019, and she got off to a flyer with a meeting record of 9:04.53 in Shanghai. 

It was to be the first of three meeting records that the Kenyan would break on the Road To The Final, as she later clocked 8:55.58 in Stanford and 9:05.55 in Birmingham. 

The world record holder suffered a minor setback in her second appearance of the season when compatriot Norah Jeruto took a shock victory in Oslo in June, but Chepkoech found her feet quickly and remained unbeaten up until the final at the end of August. 

In Zurich, she soared to a comfortable win in 9:01.71 to defend her title and provide the perfect launchpad for her triumph at the World Championships a few weeks later.

3000m Steeplechase Men

The men's steeplechase had a lot to live up to in 2019 after the drama of Conseslus Kipruto's one-shoed heroics in Zurich last season. 

Following the fireworks of last year's final, this season's contest proved to be more of a slow-burner as Morocco's Soufiane El Bakkali and Ethiopia's Getnet Wale nipped at each others' heels in a two-horse race on the Road To The Final.

El Bakkali began with an impressive world lead of 8:07.22 in Doha, before teenage prodigy Wale took a stunning victory in Rabat a few weeks later, the 19-year-old setting a new world lead and a new Ethiopian record with 8:06.01.

It was the Moroccan who appeared to have the upper hand heading into the final, however, as El Bakkali claimed all eight points in both Monaco and Paris to build up a healthy lead at the top of the standings. 

That lead meant little in an all-or-nothing showdown in the final, however, and the battle between the two men lasted right up to the line in an edge-of-the-seat battle in Brussels. It was Wale who snatched victory, coming in just .16 of a second ahead of El Bakkali to claim the Diamond Trophy. 

The victory not only announced Wale as a new global star in his discipline; it also made him the first non-Kenyan in ten years of Diamond League history to win the Diamond Trophy in the steeplechase.