Nairobi puts on great show at Kip Keino Classic
Nairobi, 3 October
Kenya opened Continental Tour athletics competition on the African continent with breathtaking action at the Nyayo National Stadium Saturday, ending close to seven months of inactivity following the Covid-19 shutdown in an afternoon full of thrills and spills at the Kip Keino Classic.
The final Continental Tour leg in the Kenyan capital Nairobi saw Kenyans prove the dominant force in distance running in front of an appreciative scaled-down 2,000 spectators seated socially-distanced in strictly adherence to Covid-19 medical protocols at the 30,000-seater stadium.
Pride of place went to the world number one 1,500 metres runner for a record 91 weeks, Timothy Cheruiyot, who is also the world champion over the distance as he continued with his winning ways when he brought the house down in his signature forward-leaning attack which has singled him out as the best runner in his speciality since 2017.
He won in three minutes, 34.31 seconds to finish ahead of former world under-18 and under-20 champion Kumari Taki (3:35.00) and Abel Kipsang (3:35.43).
"I executed the race well despite not being fully fit," said the champion who is now looking forward to next year's Tokyo Olympics.
"It feels good to end the season on a winning tone especially at home, having won the Diamond League races in Monaco and Stockholm.
“It has been a great season for me and it is my hope that all will be well next year as I focus on the Tokyo Olympics,” said Cheruiyot who will now will take time off to nurse a hamstring injury.
Ethiopia’s Hailu Lemlem grabbed a deserved victory in the women's 1,500m race, clocking 4:06.42 to stun the home favourites, Africa champion Winny Chebet (4:06.78) and 2014 Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion Mercy Cherono (4:06.79).
“I am not really disappointed with my speed and third-place finish," said Cherono.
"I am looking forward as make a return from maternity leave. I haven’t picked by peak and shape,” She added.
"I can say I am 80 percent fit and I now know where to start next season and want to chase either the 1,500m or 5,000m in Tokyo Olympics. I still have time to decide and God knows what is ahead of me. The delay of the Olympics is a blessing in disguise as it gives me time to prepare well."
The 2018 world junior championships silver medallist Kristal Awuah of Britain, cruised to victory in the 200m with a personal best 23:05 in a display of gritty determination far ahead of Egyptian Bassan Kemida (23:13) and Rodah Njobvu of Zimbabwe (23:18).
"This to say the least one of my most difficult races," she said.
"The altitude took a heavy toll on me and it simply took away my breath. I just can't remember much of the race. I am happy to win in such conditions in my personal best time. I just say it was a solid performance and I am happy to wrap up my season with a win. In will take two weeks' break before starting my winter preparations."
The men's event was won by South African Dambile Sinesipho, a member of the silver medal 4x200 team at the Yokohama International last year, in 20:44 ahead of Cisse Arthur of Cote d'Ivoire (20:53) and Tazan Dyrbak Kamanga (20:61) of Denmark.
The highlight of the day the 5000 metres discretionary final where Nicholas Kimeli second in Monaco at the same distance last August outsprinted Ethiopian former world junior championships bronze medallist Argawi Belihu in a race which exhibited both runners determination to excel despite a near-disastrous collision with 150 metres to go. Both regained their rhythm and the Kenyan proved the better radiator, posting 13 minutes 08.32 seconds as he lifted his right hand in victory.
"I must say am enjoying good form and hope to maintain it to next year Tokyo Olympics where I will be going for nothing short of victory after finishing eighth at the World Championships in Doha last year.
“My immediate focus is to set a new world 10km record in Valencia on October 7 this year," said Kimeli.
Berihu was 08.91 behind having run out of steam in the last 20m despite a concerted effort to excel on the day. He was followed by another Kenyan Jacob Krop in 13:11.88.
If the 5,000m was thrilling, the 10,000m proved like a walk in the park for Kenyan Paul Tanui, the reigning Olympics silver medallist who weighed in the opposition for most of the race before breaking away with two laps to go and cruised to victory in 28:06.90, and was comfortable enough to welcome the rest of the field as Hillary Kipkoech followed a distant second in 28.
Said Tanui: "This is my first outdoor race this season and this victory with my season-best 28:06.90 gives me hope that my training is going on well.
"It has been difficult with the COVID-19 restrictions but this race closes my season as I hope to come back ready for next year’s Tokyo Olympics," he added.
Yosei Muneria was third in 28:22.28.
World's 5,000 metres champion Helen Obiri fought hard to win at home in 13:06.36 after being challenged up to the final bend by Agnes Tirop who clocked 15:06.71 having failed to overhaul Obiri.
"It is not easy to win after a long lay-off. So I am happy to end the season on a high note," said Obiri Margaret Kipkemboi in third posted 15:11.11.
Obiri who has been training in Ngong in the outskirts of Nairobi paced herself to perfection and said she is looking forward to 2021 but made no promises of her next goal.
Experienced Ferguson Rotich outclassed Australian Joseph Deng in easily winning the 800m in 1:44.78 as his opponent clocked 1:45.21 followed by Kenyan Wycliffe Kinyamal in 1:45.52.
Jared Momanyi easily cleared the 400m men's hurdles race to clock 46.12 followed by Nigerian Emmanuel Ojeli (46.49) and Kenyan Ryan William in 46.66.
The women's 3,000m steeplechase was a mismatch after Beatrice Chepkoech, unbeaten in four Diamond League races last year beat her nearest rival former world champion Hyvin Kyeng with a time of 9:29.05 against 9:34.07.
Rosefline Chepngetich was further down in 9:46.14.
The Kenyan round of the Continental Tour, already confirmed for the next two years, marked the resumption of local or international competition and as a dress rehearsal for 2021 World Under-20 Championships and other more athletics events in the future.
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga led Kipchoge Keino, the Olympic legend after whom the meeting is named, and other dignitaries at the meeting with 1,500m Cheruiyot named the meet’s best athlete.
|1||Lingua Marco (ITA)||70.20m|
|2||Baltaci Ozkan (TUR)||69.34m|
|3||Koucky Petr (CZE)||60.93m|
|4||Abuda Dominic (KEN)||58.88m|
|5||Sakawa Dennis (KEN)||52.20m|
|1||Rodriguez Rosa (VEN)||69.55m|
|2||Sterckendries Vanessa (BEL)||68.39m|
|3||Andersson Tracey (SWE)||65.74m|
|4||Kalamoets Anastasiya (BLR)||63.27m|
|5||Ivanenko Valeriya (UKR)||59.63m|
|1||Dambile Sinesipho (RSA)||20:43 sec|
|2||Cisse Arthur (CIV)||20.53|
|3||Dyrbak Tazan Kamanga (DEN)||20.61|
|4||Jakpa Jerry (NGR)||20.71|
|5||Mike Mokamba (KEN)||21.07|
|1||Awuah Kristal (GBR)||23.05|
|2||Bassant Hemida (EGY)||23.13|
|3||Njobvu Rodah (ZMB)||23.18|
|4||Gabriel Joy Udo (NGR)||24.22|
|5||Shida Leni (UGA)||24.40|
|1||Kibiwott Abraham (KEN)||8:17.60|
|2||Bett Leonard (KEN)||8:17.63|
|3||Geoffrey Kipkemboi (KEN)||8:30.92|
|4||Kipsang Lawrence (KEN)||8:40.30|
|5||Serem Amos (KEN)||8:42.02|
|1||Chepkoech Beatrice (KEN)||9:29.05|
|2||Hyvin Kiyeng (KEN)||9:34.07|
|3||Chepnegitch Rosefline (KEN)||9:46.14|
|4||Cherono Fancy (KEN)||9:51.02|
|5||Yavi Winfred Mutile (BRN)||9:52.99|
|1||Cheruiyot Timothy (KEN)||3:34.31|
|2||Kumari Taki (KEN)||3:35.00|
|3||Kipsang Abel (KEN)||3:35.43|
|4||Keter Vincent (KEN)||3:37.59|
|5||Kiprugut Boaz (KEN)||3:37.71|
|1||Hailu Lemlem (ETH)||4:06.43|
|2||Winny chebet (KEN)||4:06.78|
|3||Mercy Cherono (KEN)||4:06.79|
|1||Obiri Helen (KEN)||15:06.36|
|2||Tirop Agnes (KEN)||15:06.71|
|3||Kipkemboi Margaret (KEN)||15:11.11|
|4||Gebreselama Tsigie (ETH)||15:13.38|
|5||Chepkemoi Joyce (KEN)||15:19.79|
- By Peter Njenga