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Diamond League Kicks Off With A Bang

  • By Joe Battaglia
  • Published May. 13, 2013
  • Updated May. 13, 2013 at 10:36 AM UTC
Asbel Kiprop made up for his weak performance in London last summer. Photo: www.photorun.net

Redemption For Kiprop

Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop is embarrassed with his performance at the London Olympics. Just weeks after running a world-leading 3:28.88 at the Diamond League Herculis Meeting in Monaco, the 2008 Olympic champion limped home to a last-place finish at the Games. What he didn’t reveal at the time was that he was competing with a hamstring injury suffered in training.

Since then, however, the only thing on his mind has been restoring his image on the global athletics scene.

“It took time to accept what happened and to listen to the bad things people were saying and training hard,” Kiprop said before the meet. “I believe I’m now ready to face the competition and restore my name. There are low moments in one’s career and London was one of the most disappointing for me.”

There were no such disappointments here as Kiprop was in complete command. He opened up in 58.14 and followed pacer Victor Kebenei through 800 meters in 1:52 and Ismael Kombich through 1200 meters in 2:49. Down the final straight, he was able to hold off fellow Kenyan Bethwelll Birgen for the win, 3:31.13 to 3:31.90.

“It was a good race and I have the world lead at the moment,” Kiprop said. “That feels fine.”

Also of note in the race was South Africa’s Johaan Cronje setting a new national record with an eighth-place finish in 3:33.46.

Late Surge Decides Steeple

The women’s 3000m steeplechase opened at a rather tame clip, with pacer Virginia Nyambura going through the first 1000 meters in 3:05.09 and Lidiya Chepkirui hitting the 2000-meter mark in the lead in 6:16.43. Over the final 700 meters, the Kenyan picked up the pace significantly, kicking hard over the final 200 meters, and cruised across the line in 9:13.75, establishing a new world lead and meet record. Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia was a distant second in 9:14.61.

“I am feeling good and my body responded well,” Chepkurui said. “I pushed at the last kilometer and it went okay. I am happy for the world lead and the meeting record. I hope to continue like that.”

Ethiopia Closes With A Bang
With the Ethiopian and Kenyan cheering sections on the first turn among the diehards who stayed through the final event of the meeting, the stage was set for bang-up finish to the meet with the men’s 3000m.

Pacers Vincent Rono and Geoffrey Barusei brought the runners through the targeted splits right on schedule, Rono hitting 1000m in 2:29 and Barusei 1500m in 3:44. When Barusei stepped off, he left Kenya’s Augustine Choge in the lead, which he maintained for a lap and a half.

But with 600 meters to go, the chase pack swallowed Choge up on the turn, leaving him in seventh place, where he would finish. Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet stormed to the lead on the backstretch of the bell lap and continued to hammer the pace.

By the final turn, he had opened a seven-meter lead, which he carried to the finish for a victory in 7:30.36, the final world lead of the night. Gebrhiwet covered the final 400 meters in 53.8. Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya was second in 7:32.01 with Yenew Alamirew of Ethiopia third in 7:32.64.

Afterward, Ethiopian fans directed their night-long chanting toward the Kenyan section, which drew a smattering of boos. The spirited nationalism continued for almost 15 minutes after the meet’s conclusion.

And with that, the Diamond League moves on to Shanghai on May 18.

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