Jet-heeled Kiplagat, Sum rule Rome


KIPLAGAT-ROMEROME, Italy, June 6 – World champion, Eunice Sum and Commonwealth winner, Silas Kiplagat, were among the big winners at the Rome Golden Gala Thursday night, the fourth 2014 IAAF Diamond League meet of the season.

Kiplagat and Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman battled for supremacy over the mile in Eugene on Saturday, with the latter winning in a superb national record of 3:47.32 to the Kenyan’s personal best of 3:47.88.

But five days later, in the Italian capital over the slightly shorter 1500m, the tables were turned as Kiplagat pulled away in the final 50 metres to win in 3:30.44 with Djibouti’s world indoor champion second this time in 3:31.89.

World champion Asbel Kiprop was more of a factor in this race than he had been in the Eugene mile and the Kenyan tried to challenge off the last bend but had no answer to the acceleration of the two men in front of him and came home third in 3:31.89.

Another Kenyan winner came, fairly predictably, in the 3000m steeplechase but wasn’t predictable was the man who crossed the line first, and on this occasion it was Jairus Birech.

Running away from the rest of the field with just over laps to go and with a 40-metre lead at the bell, Birech finished in 8:06.20 for the third-fastest time of his career.

He beat a host of better-known fellow Kenyans, including Paul Kipsiele Koech, who was second in 8:10.53 and former Olympics and World champion, Brimin Kipruto who was third.

In the women 800m, Sum executed a tactically perfect 800m and was in pole position with 120 metres to go and had enough speed in her legs to keep her rivals at bay, winning in 1:59.49.

Behind her, the Cuban teenage talent Sahily Diago showed good maturity in only her second European meeting – the first being the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships – and held off plenty of more experienced runners to finish second in 2:00.01.

Having clocked a world-leading 1:57.74 on home soil in Havana just two weeks ago, the 18-year-old Diago could be one of the potential stars of the forthcoming IAAF World Junior Championships in Eugene next month.

Elsewhere, American Justin Gatlin outclassed the men’s 100-metre field at the as Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim continued to soar by beating Ukrainian world champion Bohdan Bondarenko in the men’s high jump.

Gatlin, who served a four-year drugs ban from 2006 to 2010, clocked a winning time of 9.91secs to finish comfortably ahead of Jamaica’s Nesta Carter, while Britain’s Adam Gemili was third.

It was a repeat of last year’s success for Gatlin, who in 2013 edged Usain Bolt on the line to beat the Jamaican for the first time.
Barshim, meanwhile, had the sparse crowd at the Olympic Stadium on their feet with a string of strong performances before triumphing with a new personal best of 2.41m.

In doing so the 22-year-old — who took bronze at the London Olympics in 2012 and won silver at last year’s world championships in Moscow — matched the year’s best height set by Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov of Russia in Doha.