NAIROBI, June 16 – Reigning World 3000m Steeplechase bronze medallist Eunice Jepkorir set a new African steeplechase record at the Gran Premio Iberoamericano in Huelva last weekend.,
The 26-year-old Kenyan smashed her own former record of 9:14.52 by clocking 9:11.18 which is also the fastest time in the world this year.
Bouncing back from her disappointing ninth place last Friday in Oslo, where she clocked 9:37.94, Jepkorir showed awesome form in Huelva to propel herself into the Olympic medal picture at the Beijing Games in two month’s time.
Paced through the opening kilometre in a brisk 3:01.21, the Kenyan still had the company of up to three steeplechasers in the guise of the Ethiopian pair of Mekdes Bekele and Sofia Assefa plus Portugal’s Jessica Augusto, who was making her debut at the event.
But that triumvirate could not live with the Kenyan’s blistering pace for much longer and the second kilometre was covered in 6:06.06 by a lonesome Jepkorir who offered a magnificent display of solo running over the closing 1000m to romp home unchallenged in a massive PB and world leading mark of 9:11.18.
On her fifth appearance on Spanish ground this season, Jepkorir built a huge advantage of nine seconds on Ethiopia’s World junior bronze medallist Bekele, runner-up with a huge PB of 9:20.23, slicing nearly 12 seconds from her previous best.
“After my below par performance in Oslo I didn’t expect such a fast time, but the pacemakers did a good job and everything was right,” said Jepkorir.
Asked on her Olympics’ ambitions, the all-time fourth fastest athlete for the event said: “A gold medal? Let’s see. I will go back to Kenya to prepare the Kenyan trials and then I’ll return to Europe for some races before the Olympics.”
In the men’s 5,000 metres, Kiprono Menjo set a new personal best of 13:06.17 despite finishing second behind Sileshi Sihine with the reigning World and Olympic 10,000m silver medallist timing 12:58.41.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, World Cross Country 12K silver medalist Leonard Patrick Komon set a new meet record in the 5000m, reaching the line in 13:17.48 at the 50th Znamenskiy Memorial in Zhukovskiy.
The previous record was set before the 20 year old was born but he was in such a hurry to catch his plane that he even failed to appear at the prize ceremony and to receive the winner’s Cup.