Kenyan trio triumph in China
Diamond League Series champions Silas Kiplagat (1,500m), Eunice Sum (800m) and Jairus Birech (3,000m steeplechase) launched their season in style with emphatic victories in Shanghai on Sunday.
Kiplagat, the 2011 World silver medallist, took control over the last lap to win in a world leading time of 3:35.29 as eight men fought engaged in an intense battle to the finish line down the home straight.
Kiplagat, who won last year in Monaco, Glasgow and Rome to account for his Series victory, edged out compatriot Hilary Ngetich to second place in a personal best 3:35.40 with Collins Cheboi coming in third.
It’s in Monaco last year where Kiplagat registered a personal best of 3:27.64.
The World, Commonwealth Games, Africa and Continental Cup champion, Sum also reproduced he great form from last year with a victory in the women’s 800m race.
The powerful Sum stormed to her first win this season in 2:00.28, beating Moroccan Malika Akkaoui who stole through on the inside for a second place finish in 2:00.73.
Sum’s mentor Janeth Jepkosgei, the 2007 World champion, held on for third place, clocking 2:01.14 ahead of USA’s World Relay gold medallist Molly Ludlow.
Sum, who won in Doha, Rome, Oslo and Lausanne for the Series victory, lost only three of 17 races over the distance last year.
Birech, who won five of the six events on card last year in Rome, Olso, Lausanne, Birmingham and Brussels, was also back in business in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase.
It was a bold piece of front-running from Birech, who tore the field loaded with fellow Kenyans to shreds with a world leading time of 8:05.36.
Birech broke clear after 2km and strode away from Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Paul Koech and Conseslus Kipruto, the 2013 world silver medallist, to win by more than six seconds.
Koech fought hard to stay in touch but had to be satisfied with second spot in 8:11.39 while Kipruto was another three seconds back in 8:14.59 as Kenyans filled the top eight spots.
Kenya’s Viola Kibiwott, finished second in women’s 5,000m race, losing the battle to Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, who won in an impressive meet record and world leading time of 14.14.32.
The 23-year-old Ethiopian took the lead at the half way mark and gradually pulled away from a field of East African rivals. The African champion was 30m clear by the time the bell sounded in 13:08 to win.
Kibiwot was second in 14:40.32 while world cross country silver medallist Senbere Teferi took a surprise third for Ethiopia in 14:41.98.
Kenya’s Carvin Nkanata, who made history as the first Kenya sprinter to compete in the Diamond League serie, finished sixth in 20.58 in men’s 200m race won by Alonso Edward from Panama in a time of 20.33.
Regardless, Nkanata still holds a world lead of 20.14 that he posted during the NTC Pure Athletics Sprint Festival in Clermont Florida on April 18.
Pacemaker Virginia Nyambura (3,000m steeplechase) was Kenya’s only winner in the opening leg of the 2015 Diamond League Series on Friday night in Doha, Qatar.
The third meeting of the series will be held on 30th of this month in Eugene, USA.