Athletics Athletics

Amos stops Rudisha, Nyambura saves the day

Virginia Nyambura (left) and Ethiopia's Hiwot Ayalew in the women 3000m steeplechase race at IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday.
Virginia Nyambura (left) and Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayalew in the women 3000m steeplechase race at IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday.

NAIROBI, July 9 – Commonwealth champion, Nijel Amos, once again proved to be Olympics champion and world record holder, David Rudisha’s waterloo, when he stunned the men 800m standard bearer at an enthralling 40th Athletissima in Lausanne on Thursday night.

Rising women 3000m steeplechase sensation, Virginia Nyambura, salvaged the day for Kenya when she uncorked a meeting record 9:16.99 to outlast Ethiopia’s Hiwot Ayalew for her third victory in this season’s IAAF Diamond League during the ninth stop of the campaign.

There was no joy either for Africa record holder, the ‘You Tube Man’ Julius Yego who alongside the star-studded field, were forced to submission by Bahamas Olympics champion, Kershown Walcott, who unleashed a monster 90.16m first throw to sew up the victory.

With 10 Olympics champions from London and a bigger number of World titleholders on show, Lausanne was a mini-Beijing and it did not disappoint.

In the end, as Athletics Kenya (AK) chief executive officer, Isaac Mwangi, wrote on Facebook, “Six weeks to sharpen. Filling the percentage,” the country’s probable flag bearers for the August Beijing Worlds have all to do to match the intense challenge thrown by rivals.

Focus was undoubtedly on the men 800m where a nation gasped in disbelief as Amos who forced Rudisha to accept the second medal at last year’s Commonwealth in Scotland repeated the trick in a showdown where world champion and Ethiopian star, Mohammed Aman, was never a factor, sliding down the field to seventh.

With the 800m phenomenon still retracing his steps to the summit of two-lap running after a horror run with injuries in the past two seasons, Rudisha settled to his customary front running style and carried the lead all the way to the homestretch before Amos struck in devastating fashion.

The Botswana star deployed the afterburners with 60m to pull away from Rudisha to stop the timer in his season’s best 1:43.27 that left King David content with the silver lining yet again in 1:43.76.

Ferguson Rotich did his reputation a huge boost by joining the illustrious pair in the podium with 1:44.44 as Aman, who gave up the chase when Rudisha and Amos pulled away well inside the 600m, returned 1:48.03 to narrowly avoid an embarrassing wooden spoon.

In the second race of the programme, Nyambura, a winner in Doha and Birmingham and runner-up in Rome, atoned for missing the New York leg to extend her lead in the Diamond Race when she outlasted hard chasing Ayalew to romp home triumphant in a meet record with the beaten Ethiopian following her home in 9:17.22.

The rabbit turned world leader was matched vest to vest by Ayalew until the last water jump where she surged ahead and after the final barrier, the taller Ethiopian motored all in vain to close in but the line just came to fast for her as Nyambura muttered, “Thanks God” after doing the sign of the cross to toast the Almighty for the win.

Commonwealth champion, Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon was beaten to the honours in the erratically paced women 1500m by naturalised Swiss, Sifan Hassan, with the clocks returning 4:02.36 against 4:03.38 as the winner surged away in the last 100m for a comfortable victory.

American Jennifer Simpson (:4:03.54) overtook the fading Commonwealth 5000m titleholder, Mercy Cherono (4:04.24) to nick bronze ahead of the Kenyan who finished just outside the medals.