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Tirunesh defends title

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 31- It was a long time coming but on day 4 of the Africa Athletics Championships, the Ethiopian national anthem was finally heard at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Tirunesh Dibaba reaffirmed her status as the queen of the 10000m race with a stunning victory at on Saturday.

Dibaba who trailed world champion and local favourite Linet Masai for most of the race switched on the after burners immediately after entering the last lap with Meselech Melkamu in tow to win in 31:51.39.

Melkamu grabbed silver in 31:55.50 while Linet Masai who was understably disappointed with the result managed bronze in 31:59.36.

“I’m very disappointed with bronze because I was confident that I would win. I’m good in lapping but my problem is my finishing kick. And the Ethiopians used me as their pacemaker,” said Masai after the race.

Masai and the rest of the Kenyan contingent Pauline Korikwiang and Doris Changeiywo made a solid start as they interchanged leads amongst themselves though they were being shadowed by the Ethiopia.

Kemi Restituta of Tanzania set a blistering pace for the first five laps before being caught up by the rest of the pack with Changeiywo showing good form.  

Masai and Korikwiang then came from behind to control the race as it entered the tenth lap.

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A strong showing by Korikwiang afterwards failed to have any effect as the Ethiopians upped the pace.

Linet took the lead in the 16th lap as she pulls further ahead with the Ethiopians chasing incessantly.

It remained like that for the remainder of the five laps before Tirunesh made her move in the closing stages to defend her title.

Earlier,Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop warded off a late surge from Morrocan Amine Laalou to qualify for Sunday’s 1500m men’s final in a time of 3:43.33.

Silas Kiplagat and Nicholas Kemboi will join Kiprop in the final.

Former world champion Janeth Jepkosgei breezed through her qualifying heat of the 800m by clocking 2:01:50.

She will be joined by fellow Kenya Winny Chebet who set 2:08.50 in the second heat.

Kenya also displayed a masterful display in the 4x400m men’s relay to qualify for Sunday’s final.

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