NAIROBI, Kenya, June 18- World Indoor champion, Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku and Hyvin Jepkemoi picked up impressive victories for Kenya at the Ostrava Golden Spike on Tuesday night in a meet where six world leading times highlighted riveting track and field action.
Two-time Berlin Marathon champion, Florence Kiplagat’s bid to break the world record in the rarely run women 20,000 fell short when she pulled out in the 29th lap as compatriot Alice Kimutai took the honours.
Running in the the Zatopek Memorial 3000m earlier in the evening – albeit without a record assault – Ndiku found himself running alone over the final two laps.
Unfazed, he forged on to produce an impressive 7:31.66 victory, a world lead and just inside the previous meeting record but with the Mpeketoni Attacks still raw in the nerves of most Kenyans, he chose not to celebrate.
“Today was my birthday, I thank God for a great year in my sports career. No celebration, I dedicate the day to the families in the coastal part of my lovely country Kenya affected by today’s fatal attacks,” he posted on his Face Book page.
World youth champion Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia edged New Zealand’s Olympic medallist Nick Willis for second, 7:36.28 to 7:26.91, personal bests for both. Kejelcha’s time was the second-fastest performance in history by a youth athlete.
Former All Africa Games champion (2011) and reigning Africa Championships bronze medallist, Jepkomei fought off Morocco’s Salima Alami to win the 3000m steeplechase in 9:22.58, 0.53 shy of her career best.
Alami’s perseverance paid off in the form of a 9:23.27 personal best as Birtukan Adamu of Ethiopia ran a year best of 9:27.29 for third.
The world record assault in the women’s 20,000m came to an abrupt halt when 2009 World Cross and 2011 World Half gold winner, Kiplagat succumbed to apparent stomach problems and stepped off the track 29 laps into the 50-lap contest.
“She didn’t have any problems before the race, she was perfectly prepared to break the record,” her coach Renato Canova said. “She started to feel a stomach ache during the race and couldn’t continue.”
In her absence, Kimutai was the clear winner. Catching and passing Ethiopian Mulahabt Tsega just as the gun sounded one minute to go in the one-hour race, the 22-year-old went on to win the race in 1:08:32.2, 35 seconds clear of Tsega. En route, they covered 17,545m and 17,544m over one-hour, respectively.
Kenyan-born Turkish runner, İlham Tanui Özbilen (formerly William Tanui) ran a national record and world leading 2:15.08 for victory in the men 1000m with Pierre-Ambroise Bosse of France (2:15.31) and Australia’s Jeff Riseley (2:16.09) who also ran a national record and personal best taking the minor podium positions.
World champion, indoors and out, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman, who was going for the world record at the distance was forced down the field in a distant fourth (2:16.33).
Near miss for Genzebe
Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba re-discovered her winning touch and brought the stadium to life with a brave assault on the world 2000m record. She came up a bit short, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
She reached the midway point in 2:42.67, within half a second of the pre-race target, before forging on alone for the final 900 metres. She passed the bell in 4:20.62, needing to close in less than 65 seconds to take down Sonia’ Sullivan’s 5:25.36 record set 20 years ago.
Urged on by the crowd’s clapping, stomping and screaming, the double world indoor record-holder gritted her teeth as she entered the final stretch before crossing the line in 5:27.50, the third fastest performance in history and an African record.
Her compatriot Senbera Teferi was a distant second in an African junior record of 5:34.27.
There was joy for Uganda when Winnie Nanyondo nabbed an impressive win in the women’s 800m, powering down the homestretch and away from a crowded 14-woman field to a 1:59:27 personal best.
It was the first international win over the distance for the 20-year-old, one she celebrated with a little dance before she knelt to the track and raised her arms to the sky.
“It was a hard race and I’m very happy,” Nanyondo, whose previous best of 1:59.39 came in Hengelo nine days ago, told the IAAF. “It’s only my second race in Europe and I have to say I like it here.”
Gatlin, Merritt power to WL
Poster boy Gatlin was among the chief protagonists at the meeting and his evening-capping performance in the 100m didn’t fail to impress.
Powering from the blocks, he was well ahead some 40 metres into the race en route to a 9.86 performance that knocked 0.01 seconds from the world lead he brought with him to this eastern Czech city.
“I almost broke the (9.83) meet record so I’m pleased,” said the 2004 Olympic champion, who extended his unbeaten streak in the event this season to eight.
Mike Rodgers held off Kim Collins 10.08 to 10.12 to finish a distant second.
Another meeting record came in the 400m courtesy of world champion Lashawn Merritt. Running patiently through the first 300 metres, he cruised home to a comfortable 44.16 win to eclipse the 44.49 meeting standard set by Kirani James one year ago.
Botswana;s Isaac Makwala was second in 44.83, improving his own national record set at altitude earlier this year.