NAIROBI, June 15- Kenyan superstars Julius Yego and Vivian Cheruiyot were forced to chase the competition at Sunday’s Mohammed VI d’Athletisme IAAF World Challenge meeting in Rabat.
There were no such worries however, for African champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jairus Birech who had no one for company in the steeplechase after winning in 8:11.42, more than four seconds ahead of the challengers.
Much had been expected of African and Commonwealth titleholder, You Tube Man Yego after his astonishing world-leading throw of 91.39m in Birmingham.
But he was left in the coattails of the man who preceded him as African record-holder, Ihab Abdelrahman, for the whole competition.
Abdelrahman opened with 81.44m and then extended his lead in the third round with a meeting record of 85.44m.
Yego improved with each effort, throwing 80.12m in the first round before improving to 82.78m, 83.60m and then 83.99m, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Egyptian.
The performance of the night was however, notched by fast-rising Ethiopian sensation, Almaz Ayana who blew away the field in the women 3000m including the 2011 double world champion, Cheruiyot.
Having opened her 2015 last month by running the fastest 5000m on Asian soil Ayana turned up in another continent for a different event, but the feat she achieved in Rabat on was essentially the same.
Competing in her first race since clocking a world-leading PB of 14:14.32 in the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, Ayana dominated the 3000m in the Moroccan capital.
Paced through the first kilometre in 2:48.44, the world bronze medallist broke away from the rest of the field in the early stages.
She maintained the pace that had been set and went through 2000m in 5:35.10, at which point it became clear that she was on course to break her PB of 8:24.58.
She continued churning out the 67-second laps right to the end, eventually crossing the line in a world-leading 8:22.22. Not only did she break the African all-comers’ record, her time was also an outdoor Ethiopian record.
Cheruiyot finished more than 17 seconds behind, taking the runner-up spot in 8:39.75 with fellow Kenyan and former World Junior champion Irene Jelagat a close third in 8:39.99.
In the men steeple, Birech who is fresh from winning the Diamond League meeting in New York led 2004 Athens Olympics bronze medallist, Paul Kipsiele Koech (8:15.17) and Hillary Kipsang (8:16.01) to the podium sweep with Clement Kemboi (8:17.40) rounding the top four.
World Championship silver medallist, Silas Kiplagat was edged out in the men 1500m Race 2 by Morocco’s Yassine Bensghir with the clocks reading 3:34.29 against 3:34.84 in a frenetic finish with Timothy Cheruiyot (3:35.24) and Ronald Kwemoi (3:36.00) coming home to round the top four.
Fourth finisher Ferguson Rotich (1:46.47) was the based placed Kenyan in the men 800m race won by Polish star Adam Kszczot in 1:46 dead
USA based sprinter, Carvin Nkanata ran 20.76 for fourth in the men 200m with the other short distance runner from the country, Francesca Koki rounding the tail in the women 400m Hurdles with 59.50.
South Africa’s Wenda Nel won the event in 55.36.
-Material sourced from IAAF