Diamond League Athletics, Birmingham

The IAAF Diamond League meeting in Birmingham is a prestigious occasion in the athletics calendar taking place every year in June.  The event is the sixth leg of the IAAF Diamond League, the global series comprising of the world's 14 best athletics meetings.

Athletes compete to win points in their event which accumulate over the year.  The Diamond Race champions then receive their trophies after the series finals in Zurich and Brussels.

The meeting in Birmingham did not disappoint! Eight stadium records and six world leading times this year were recorded.  There was even a new British Record as the crowd’s favourite, Mo Farah, broke David Moorcroft’s 34-year record for the 3,000 metres in a time of 7 minutes, 32.62 seconds. Mind you it was only broken by seventeen-hundredths of a second!

That was not the only exciting event of the day. Kenya's 800 metres Olympic Champion David Rudisha ran the rarely-run 600metres shot away from the start determined to prove he still has the speed and energy for the shorter run. What added to the excitement was that he didn't have it all his own way as he just held off Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France to win in a time of 1 minute, 13.10 seconds.

It was clear that many of these athletes were laying down the gauntlet in their event in preparation for the Olympic Games in less than nine weeks.   

Another Kenyan, World Champion Asbel Kiprop bettered his own world leading time this year and set a new meeting record in the 1,500 metres.

The issue of drugs cheating in sport refuses to go away.  Earlier in the week I was able to chat with Asbel about the requirements set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for a robust national anti-doping agency in Kenya that has powers to  enforce bans and establish drug-testing labs. I asked Asbel how it had affected him:

Kenyan athletes seemed to dominate this meeting, not  least in the 3,000 metres steeplechase for men where the first six  places were taken up by Kenyans. However it was Conseslus Kipruto who maintained his stranglehold on this Diamond League event by setting a new meeting record in a fast time of 8 minutes and twelve hundredths of a second, nearly breaking the magic 8-minutes barrier.

Finally, I must mention the fight for the line between two other Kenyan athletes in the longest run of the day, the women’s 5,000 metres.  It wasn't a particularly fast race but in the end only six-hundredths of a second separated first and second, with the diminutive Vivian Cheruiyot conquering her colleague and friend Mercy Cherono in a time of 15 minutes 12.79 seconds.

The last word goes to Mercy, who with Vivian, have only one thing on their mind now and that is the Kenyan trials selection for the Olympic Games taking place at the end of June.

By Norman Brierley