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Rudisha scorches Doha, Kiprop is back

RUDISHA-DOHA-WINDOHA, Qatar, May 11 – World and Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha clocked the best time in the world this year with victory in Friday’s Diamond League opener in Qatar to underline his credentials ahead of his intended title defense at the Moscow Worlds.

Rudisha won in 1:43.87sec with Ethiopia’s World Indoor champion Mohammed Aman who denied him the Diamond Trophy in the last race of last season in Brussels taking second in 1:44.21. The Kenyan broke his own world record at the London Olympics last summer with a time of 1:40.91.

In the men’s 1500m – not a Diamond Race event on this occasion – former Olympic champion Kiprop wound up to produce an unassailable surge over the final lap, but it registered yet another world-leading performance on the night of 3:31.13. Bethwell Birgen chased his fellow Kenyan home in 3:31.90, with Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti third in 3:32.59.

World Cross junior titleholder, the diminutive Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon moved past the tiring figure of Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba to finish second in a national record of 3:56.98 in the corresponding women’s race won by Ethiopian born Swedish Abeba Aregawi who was pushed to the formidable limits of her powers to cross the line ahead in 3:56.60, just 0.06 outside her personal best.

Lydia Chepkurui had the Kenyan flags waving again half an hour after Rudisha had produced his opening season flourish as she won the women’s 3000m Steeplechase in a world-leading time of 9:13.75, which was also a meeting record. Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia was second in 9:14.61, with third place going to her compatriot Hiwot Ayalew in 9:17.60.

Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia produced the final world-leading effort of the day when he won the 3000m in 7:30.36 ahead of Olympics bronze medallist, Thomas Longosiwa, who clocked 7:32.01 with Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew third in 7:32.64. Gebrhiwet now moves to third on the world junior all-time list behind Augustine Choge and Tariku Bekele.

Billed as the star of the meet, the lanky 800m phenomenon Rudisha did not disappoint, producing a victory of characteristic grace and majesty here, contributing one of 11 world-leading performances as the 2013 IAAF Diamond League got off to a hugely successful launch on a warm and balmy night in Doha.

Of course, it is early in the season. But the qualities of these performances spoke for themselves. When Olympic champions are setting personal bests – as Brittney Reese did with 7.25m in the women’s Long Jump – you know you are watching the real thing.

Apart from Rudisha and Reese, the Doha world-leaders club numbered Sandra Perkovic in the Discus, Ryan Whiting in the Shot Put, Konstantinos Filippidis in the Pole Vault, Aregawi in the 1500m, Dawn Harper-Nelson in the 100m Hurdles, Chepkurui in the 3000m Steeplechase, Montsho in the 400m, Kiprop in the 1500m and Gebrhiwet in the 3000m.

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The Olympic 800m champion, in his first appearance of a season in which he hopes to retain his World title, floated over the line behind a smile of gritted teeth in 1:43.87.

After the eager pacemaker – rather than a field 10m further back – had passed the 400m mark in 49.04 before dropping away, Rudisha, the tallest man in the field, emerged as leader, and as he approached the final bend there was a jostling mass of young and eager opponents at his shoulder, closest of whom was the 19-year-old Ethiopian Aman, who has been the only runner to find a way of beating the Kenyan in the last couple of years.

For all the frenetic efforts, however, the rest of the field could make no impression on the tall, easy figure gliding away from them.

“I feel good and I ran OK,” Rudisha told IAAF. “It’s always nice running here in Doha and tonight the crowd was just fantastic. I like that the kids cheered me. It’s a world lead, but I can do better for sure.”

Aman commented: “I did not want to stay behind Rudisha. I tried to pass him but I could not.” But of course there’s no shame in that.

Spectators here at the Hamad Bin Suhaim Stadium saw something new – Allyson Felix losing on this track. After 10 consecutive victories in Doha, the Olympic 200m champion, racing over her less fancied distance of 400m, was beaten at last by the strength of Botswana’s World champion Montsho, who clocked 49.88 with Felix timed at 50.19.

– Report extracted from IAAF and AFP

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