19 December, 2019

Best Diamond League Moment Ever: Middle Distance

  • © Philippe Fitte

It was a close run thing in the vote to crown your favourite middle distance moment in Diamond League history, but in the end you plumped for the undisputed superstar of the season just gone.

This December, we have been asking you to name your favourite moments from 10 years of the Diamond League. Usain Bolt's flower girl crash won the race in the sprints, while Sally Pearson and Mutaz Essa Barshim topped the charts in the hurdles and jumps with their Diamond League final heroics from 2017 and 2014. 

Next up is the middle distance events, and once again, the shortlist is as mouth-watering as a mince pie encrusted yule log.

Aman and Rudisha

2012 was a spectacular year in the men's 800m, as Kenyan legend David Rudisha reached the peak of his extraordinary powers, setting a new world record of 1:40.91 at the London Olympics. Just a few weeks prior to that era-defining performance, he had already set a new Diamond League record of 1:41.54 at the Diamond League meeting in Paris. A near miss at the world record he would later break over the channel, Rudisha's performance in the French capital ranks as perhaps the finest two-lap performance in Diamond League history.

In a curious twist of fate, the Kenyan did not end up defending his Diamond Trophy in 2012. Having won the title two years in a row in 2010 and 2011, Rudisha lost it in a shock defeat to Mohammed Aman in Zurich a few weeks after the Olympics. Then just 18 years old, Aman reeled Rudisha in on the home straight and just pipped the Kenyan master to the line to clinch a dramatic victory. The Ethiopian would build on his success the following year, defending his title in a dominant season in 2013. 

World records

Two years after that, it was his compatriot Genzebe Dibaba who stole the show. The Ethiopian star had cruised to three victories in the 5000m by the time she turned up in Monaco, but it was her performance in the 1500m at the Stade Louis II which would etch her name into the history books. A stunning effort and a desperate charge down the home straight saw her knock half a second off a 22-year-old world record with 3:50.08.

Many of you voted for Dibaba's 2015 performance as your favourite Diamond League middle distance moment of all time, but the Ethiopian was ultimately beaten in a voting photo finish by Dutch star Sifan Hasssan. 

Earlier this year, Hassan took a leaf out of Dibaba's book when she broke the mile world record in sensational style at the Monaco Diamond League. Unlike Dibaba's, Hassan's achievement was not entirely expected. At the pre-meeting press conference, she had been uncharacteristically coy when it was suggested she could break the world record at the Stade Louis II.

Yet break it she did, and given her previous form that season, it was anything but a shock. Hassan had been already dazzled on the Diamond League stage in 2019, posting a new 3000m European and Diamond League record  in Eugene a few weeks earlier. In Monaco, she went one better in the mile, coming in a quarter of a second quicker than Svetlana Masterkova's 1996 mark.

Rewatch Hassan's heroics in the video below.