By Len Johnson
It’s difficult to nominate a ‘performance of the week’ for 29 May-5 June. There were so many good ones – Stewart McSweyn’s 3:31.57 behind world champion Timothy Cheruiyot in the Doha DL 1500, Izzi Batt-Doyle (15:04.10) and Zatopek 10,000 winner Rose Davies (15:08.48) both getting the Olympic 5000 auto qualifier in Nijmegen, and, in the US, Jessica Hull running 14:57.00, Ed Trippas 8:26.25 in a men’s steeple and Amy Cashin running 9;28.60 in a women’s steeple.
No such difficulty in nominating a favourite performance of the week. That would have to be Jeff Riseley’s 1:45.34 800 victory in the Citta di Conegliano meeting in Italy. Many things you could say here – just off the plane, ran down Algeria’s Mohamed Belbachir up the final straight, missed the Olympic auto standard by a mere 0.14 seconds. Mostly, however, it was a performance to make you smile.
There’s not many more personable athletes around than Riseley. It’s probably fair to say that he has never quite found the performances to match his potential – a pair of fifth places in the 800 and 1500 against high-class opposition at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games possibly his high point – so far.
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But he’s kept buttering up. Now, here Jeff is again, putting himself back into Tokyo Olympic Games discussion with his latest run. On the plus side, it looks as if there remain only Peter Bol, US_based Charlie Hunter and, now, Riseley in contention: three-into-three goes quite nicely. But to get there, Riseley will have to maintain this vein of form either to garner enough rankings points to qualify, or to find that extra metre-and-a-bit to get the auto-standard.
Good luck to him, I say.