Soufiane El Bakkali produced one stunning performance in front of the home crowds at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex Stadium during the second leg of the Diamond League series in Rabat on the 28th of May.
The gun went off in the men’s 300m steeplechase race, and El Bakkali appeared to have just come out of the gun as he sprang forward, leaving the pacers struggling to overtake him in order to perform their duties. The field was strung into a single file just after the first lap.
With four laps to go, El Bakkali took to the front. Only Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot and Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale would go with him up to the last two laps of the race before El Bakkali was all along at the front competing with the clock. He celebrated with almost 50m to go as he went on to win the race in a new personal best, a meeting record, and a world-leading time of 7:56.68. Wale followed in 8:05.15 ahead of Kibiwot in 8:05.51, both registering their personal best times as well.
Kenya’s 2021 WU20 Champion, Emmanuel Wanyonyi, reigned supreme in the men’s 800m race. Wanyonyi was third after the first bend. The clock showed 50.73 at 400m. Morocco’s Abdelati El Guesse took to the lead just after the pacesetter dropped, but Wanyonyi would race him down with around 150m to go. Kinyamal seemed determined to pay back Wanyonyi for what he did to him at the Kip Keino Classic when the latter overtook him on the home stretch. However, Wanyonyi held his ground here to win the race in 1:44.36, as Kinyamal came second in 1:44.73. Benjamin Robert of England was third in 1:45.04.
“I am happy about how I performed today. I am pleased to get this win. I managed to get this victory by being focused during the race. My goal this year is to execute well. I would like to thank the crowd here for being supportive and fantastic. I am getting ready for the world championship by staying healthy and in good shape,” Wanyonyi said after the race.
Guday Tsegay appeared to have had no pressure in the women’s 1500m race as she broke away early and proceeded to win the race in a meeting record and a world-leading time of 3:54.03. Freweyni Hailu, Birke Haylom, and Worknesh Mesele made in an Ethiopian 1-2-3-4 in 3:57.65, 3:57.66, and 4:01.81, respectively.
“It was my first outdoor competition of the season, so I am more than happy by the result, the time, and the victory. The race was what I planned. Not easy, but great in execution. I am already in great shape, I am injury free. So far, all is perfect. About the next, I do not know what race I will do at the World Championships. 1,500m, 5,000m, 10,000m… I am ready for every distance. My coach will decide,” she said.
The front-running Jacob Ingebrigtsen proved that he is hard to beat in the men’s 1500m as he remained just behind the pacer. He then stretched the gap at the lead with 450m to go, leaving a single file behind him. He won the race in 3:32.59 against Yared Nguse’s 3:33.02 and Oliver Hoare’s 3:33.39.
“I could run faster, but it was a bit difficult in the last turn because of the wind. I won the race because I was feeling good and thanks to my training,” Ingebrigtsen said.
Mary Moraa, after a gutsy first lap of around 56 seconds, where she appeared to have been pushing the pacemaker to go a little bit faster, managed to hold on to the lead to win the women’s 800m in 1:58.72. Australia’s Catriona Bisset was second in 2:00.11, while USA’s Sage Hurta-Klecker took third in 2:00.62.
“Tonight was my second outdoor race of the season after a first one at home in Nairobi. So, I am of course, very pleased by my result. Time is great, but to be honest, it is the result I expected. I knew I had the shape to accomplish this kind of race tonight in Rabat.
“At the end, I felt a lot of tactics in my legs, that is why I needed some time to recover. But I have no injury; all is good. After running in Paris on June 9th, I will travel back to Kenya for training. My goal is to get a medal at the World Championships in Budapest. Being on a podium would be great; there are many girls but only three medals,” Moraa said.