Evan Jager turned in an outstanding performance to win the Monaco Diamond League on Friday night in 8:01.29, the fastest time in the world this year and his quickest in more than two years. Coming less than two weeks before the beginning of the IAAF World Championships in London, it served as the perfect confidence boost for the 28-year-old Olympic silver medalist.
Jager seized command of the race shortly after the 2000m mark, which was reached in a sensible 5:25.40, which means he ran his last kilometer in a blazing 2:35.89. He wound up the pace over the final three laps with relentless power, finally breaking the trio chasing behind with 500m to run. From there, he accelerated all the way to the finish, sprinting to the line to just miss out on the eight-minute barrier, not that he will have been bothered.
“It was our plan to run only the steeple on the Diamond League circuit now,” said Jager, who was running his first race in Europe this year. “The previous ones did not fit into our plans with training camp and altitude.”
However, despite beating the best Kenya had to offer on the night, the Bowerman Track Club athlete will not be resting on his laurels over the upcoming fortnight. After all, a late withdrawal from the race was the man who beat him to gold in Rio last year, Conseslus Kipruto, who erred on the side of caution while nursing a foot injury. The pair met afterwards in the mixed zone, with Jager reportedly telling Kipruto that he was sorry not to have him out there and that they’d see each other in London.
“We are keeping our options open for the best possible tactical plan for the worlds,” said Jager. “But one thing is clear: I’m going for gold.”