The 2012 Diamond League concluded in Brussels, Belgium with the Memorial Van Damme Meeting. Although there were many incredible end of the season performances, they were all overshadowed by Aries Merrit's world record shattering time of 12.80 in the men's 110m hurdles. For the full post-race analysis and interview with Aries Merritt, visit here: http://www.flotrack.org/coverage/249667-2012-Brussels-Diamond-League-Memorial-Van-Damme/article/14324-Aries-Merrit-Greatest-of-All-Time
Other highlights of the meet included Usain Bolt taking the men's 100m in 9.86, Yohan Blake winning the men's 200m in 19.54, and Silas Kiplagat beating a tough 1500m field in 3:31.98.
Though athletes were looking for one last opportunity to run a season or personal best, there were fifteen "Diamond Race"titles to be decided in Brussels. The athlete with the most accumulated points in each event at the end of the Diamond League series wins $40,000. While the normal points for the Diamond League are 4 for first, 2 for second, and 1 for third, the point values are doubled at the last meet of the season.
While some events were uncontested as the winner had already been decided, there were five events that were wide open for the taking by an ambitious athlete. We'll call the athletes that had the lead going into the Memorial Van Damme meet and lost it coming out, "The Cubans." These competitors were so close, but did not get the cigar.
Cuban #1: Asbel Kiprop in the men's 1500m
Kiprop looked nearly invincible this season as he showed he could not only win a tactical race, but produced a world leading time of 3:28.88 as well. He had 14 points going into Brussels, but finished out of the scoring. Compatriot and rival, Silas Kiplagat, entered the meet with 8 points, but his win in the final 100m gave him a winning total of 16 points. To sweeten the pot, he passed Mekonnen Gebremedhin in points (he had 9 going into the meet) in the final straightaway to beat him both in the race and the standings (Gebremedhin took second, which gave him a total of 13 points).
Cuban #2: Jason Richardson in the 110m hurdles
The only thing that could that could make a world record run even better was some prize money waiting at the end of the race. Richardson entered Brussels with 14 points, but would have to beat Aries Merritt who had 10 points. Merritt won the race with a world record time of 12.80, which raised his total to 18 points to Richardson's 18. However, Merritt won the tie-breaker as the winner as the final race of the season.
Cuban #3: Mercy Cherono in the women's 5000m
Mercy Cherono was not selected for the Kenyan Olympic team, so she was hoping to at least salvage her season by winning the Diamond League title. Cherono entered the meet with 12 points and had to fend off her fellow countrywoman, Vivian Cheruiyot, who had 10 points. Cheruiyot took home the gritty win over Cherono and therefore won the DL title with 18 points over Cherono's 16.
Cuban #4: Lugelin Santos in the men's 400m
The men's 400m DL standings going into Brussels had so many outcomes that it was almost any athletes' crown for the taking. The IAAF even race an article where the Borlee twins, Kevin and Jonathan, talked about the possibility of one of them winning the title. Both born in Belgium and competing in front of the home crowd, Kevin Borlee entered the meet with a mere 2 points while his brother Jonathan had 5. Above the brothers in the standings was American Angelo Taylor (6 points) and DL points leader Luguelin Sanots (10 points). Here are the race results:
If Santos could have finished third, he would have won the DL title. However, Kevin Borlee sprinted home in front of his brother to steal the DL title at the very last moment.
Cuban #5: Fabiana Murer and Yarisley Silva in the women's pole vault
Yarisley Silva is the true Cuban as she was not only born in Cuba, but garnered the title of "The Cuban" at the 2012 Brussels Diamond League meeting. Silva is the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and was tied for lead in DL points with Fabiana Murer with 10 points. Silke Spiegelburg, who finished in the dreaded fourth position at the Olympics, exacted her timely revenge as she entered the meet with 8 points, won the competition, and finished with 16 points to Silva's 12 points (she took third) and Murer's 14 points (she took second).
We'll hopefully have more "Cubans" to hand out next year in Brussels at the Diamond League final.