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Awe-Sum Eunice adds Diamond sparkle

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EUNICE-SUMNAIROBI, Kenya, August 30- World champion Eunice Sum crowned her awesome season by clinching her first IAAF Diamond League crown as steeplechase prodigy and Moscow silver winner, Conseslus Kipruto, hang on to bag a similar crown at the Wetlklasse Meet final in Zurich on Thursday night.

On a night where 15 winners of the $40,000 (Sh3.405m) jackpot apiece and a Diamond Trophy were decided on a night of riveting action, Sum once again prevailed over Russia Olympics champion, Mariya Saminova by out-lasting her on the homestretch to win in 1:58.82, just 0.11 seconds ahead of her predecessor of as a world champion.

In the absence of Burundi’s injured Francine Niyonsaba, Sum also took the Diamond Trophy in the open race by proving that her win at the Luzhniki Stadium over Saminova was no fluke as she found the legs to stop the feared Russian who prior to Moscow, had won five major titles in two years.

With a cast containing the gold, silver and bronze winners from the Moscow Worlds lining up for the men 3000m steeplechase, all eyes were on Ezekiel Kemboi, the three-time champion who prevailed over his 19 year-old rival, Conseslus Kipruto, whom he led to the altar in Russia.

But soon after the gun, it became apparent that Kemboi was not interested in giving the world a re-match as he went through the motions and eventually, jogged home second from last in 8:37.68.

However, the World Junior champion had a job to do, ensure he finished third to win the consolation of bagging his first ever Diamond League crown and after taking the lead through to three-laps to go, Jairus Kipchoge Birech, his rival for the title took charge.

The pair were joined by Hillary Yego, another circuit performer as Kipruto dropped to third, with the strain showing. At the bell, Birech and Yego took off for the honours with French Worlds bronze winner, Mekhissi-Benabbad and compatriot Gilbert Kirui, breathing down Kipruto’s neck.

Yego (8:08.03) won it over Birech (8:08.72) by injecting the decisive turn of pace just before the final water jump as Kipruto (8:10.76) just managed to fend of Mekhissi for third to lift the Diamond Trophy.

Elsewhere, Commonwealth champion, Silas Kiplagat, showed he could still win big races when his timed sprint over the homestretch landed him the win in Zurich (3:30.97) in a race where world champion, Asbel Kiprop (3:33.78), gave up the chase to finish sixth.

That allowed Ayanleh Souleiman from Djibouti to celebrate a Diamond victory with Kenyan frontrunners from the jackpot in the event, former world junior champion, Caleb Mwangangi (3:33.41/fourth) and Bethwell Birgen (DNF) failed to pick up the points that would have seen them secure victory.

In the thrilling women 5000m final, Moscow silver medallist, Mercy Cherono (14:40.33) led compatriots, Emily Chebet (14:46.89) and fellow second medal winner over 10,000m, Gladys Cherono (14:47.12) to occupy the third, fourth and fifth positions in a scorching race where Ethiopian powerhouses, Meseret Defar (14:32.83) and Tirunesh Dibaba (14:34.82) gave the world another instalment of their pitch rivalry.

Defar and Dibaba, the 5000m and 10,000m gold medallists respectively from the 2013 IAAF World Championships, were brought together to battle for supremacy over the shorter distance, something that didn’t happen in Moscow earlier this month owing to both of them deciding to only have one bite of the cherry in the Russian capital. It was just their fourth race against each other since the Beijing Olympics five years ago.

Dibaba may have come in as the World record-holder and 2013 world leader, while Defar was saying ahead of the meeting how tired she was after her recent outings in Moscow and Stockholm, but it was the latter who prevailed in a dramatic and thrilling last lap, coming home just under two seconds in front of her Ethiopian compatriot and rival in 14:32.83.

The winner uncorked an unofficial last kilometre of 2:40.68 and a last lap of 58.3 and her win meant that she was also was victorious in the Diamond Race and added a $40,000 first prize as well as the impressive and elusive Diamond Trophy, which she received at the end of the meeting along with the 14 other winners on Thursday night.

-Report compiled from Iaaf.org

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