By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
LAUSANNE, SUI (25-Aug) — In the rarely contested one kilometer, Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman ran away with a commanding win here at the Athletissima Lausanne IAAF Diamond League meeting, defeating both Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Asbel Kiprop. Souleiman didn’t just beat Centrowitz and Kiprop; he sped away with fury to win in 2:13.49, a world lead, Diamond League record, meet record, and the #7 performance of all time. Fair to say the 23-year-old had a memorable day at the track.
“I’m good today,” said Souleiman. “The Olympics I under-performed because of the tactics and slow race… This is different. This is a hard race with a pacemaker. That’s why I am happy today.”
Though the 1000m may be more in Souleiman’s wheelhouse than for 1500m specialists Centrowitz and Kiprop, Souleiman’s command and decision-making was by far supreme today. Hitting 400 meters (52.80) behind the pacers, Souleiman extended his stride among the top three while Centrowitz sat mid-pack around sixth and Kiprop two steps farther behind.
At the bell, Centrowitz and Kiprop still had a lot of work to do if they wanted to catch Souleiman, some ten meters ahead.
Souleiman would split 800m leading in 1:45.95 after a 54.15 second lap and wouldn’t slow down. He’d face a slight challenge from Kenyan Robert Biwott, though the final 27.54 200m took care of him with relative ease to win 2:13.49 to 2:13.89. Souleiman had enough in the tank to celebrate the last 20 meters. Jonathan Kiprotich Kitilit was third in 2:13.95.
“I win. That’s why I know I’m ready. The Olympics, no,” said Souleiman, telling Race Results Weekly that last week’s Olympic 1500m final was both on his mind and in his legs (he finished fourth in the Olympic 1500m and failed to advance to the Olympic 800m final. Souleiman absolutely did not want the pace to linger in the slightest. He knew doing such would allow Centrowitz and company back in the mix.
“After Olympics I shake my head and decide to close the season [fast], that’s why today I check myself. I say ‘how do you run without tactics, in different strong races.’ That’s why I am happy. I am going to Paris in 800m. I am good now.”
Kiprop wound up fourth in 2:14.23, while Centrowitz clocked 2:16.67 for sixth; both times are personal bests.
Centrowitz was OK with the result considering what the last week has been like. He said he’s barely slept and the travel from Rio de Janeiro had taken its toll. He still thinks he can run a fast 1500m this season.
“I wanted to come in and get after it a little bit. I felt I did, at least the first 200 I got out well. It’s tough, from an emotional high at the Olympics and not getting much sleep, had to travel and I don’t do good with time zones,” he began. “Honestly, I’m alright with it. It wasn’t about time today… Hopefully this will help get my legs back under me for my next two races.”
“I think I could really pop a good [1000m] when things are going well. Right now I’m not firing on all cylinders because of all those things I said,” he added.
A surprising result to come from the 1000m was Kenyan Silas Kiplagat placing 12th and last in 2:19.80.