Kenya's Jairus Kipchoge Birech has won all five IAAF Diamond League steeplechase races he's run this year and looked almost unbeatable as he clinched the title more than six weeks ago.
But last night at the [link id="450" tax="post_tag" text="IAAF Diamond League"] in Brussels, [link id="527" tax="post_tag" text="Jairus Birech"] was pushed all the way by European record-holder Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad.
However, Jairus Birech pulled out his first run under eight minutes to secure the Diamond Race title.
Led through the first 1000m in 2:38.41, Mekhissi-Benabbad was keeping close to the pacemaker before Birech took up the running and went through 2000m in 5:21.31, with the tempo slipping just outside eight-minute pace.
Determined to become the 11th member of the sub-eight club, Birech pushed the pace in the closing kilometre, opening up a gap on Mekhissi-Benabbad before the final lap.
— Athletics Africa (@athleticsafrica) September 5, 2014
The 21-year-old Kenyan continued to pull away from his French rival and stopped the clock at 7:58.41, taking him to 10th on the world all-time list.
Mekhissi-Benabbad had to be content with a season’s best and European lead of 8:03.23. In third, USA’s Evan Jager set a North American record of 8:04.71.
“I felt strong before the race,” said Birech. “My aim was to run under eight minutes and I did it. I have reached all my goals this year: to win the Diamond Race, become African champion and run under eight minutes.”