ZURICH, September 4- World champion, Asbel Kiprop, Eunice Sum and Jairus Birech left the Weltklasse Zurich IAAF Diamond League final as Diamond Race winners while men 800m record holder and Beijing gold medallist, David Rudisha, saw a familiar foe resurface on Thursday night.
On a night where 20 world champions from Beijing put their reputations on the line and 16 Diamond Races were decided, Kenya who topped the standings at the 15th edition of the biennial track and field showpiece saw the three winners take home $40,000 (Sh4.16m) series payout and a sparkling Diamond Trophy.
Three-time men 1500m champion, Kiprop once again led fast rising Beijing silver medallist to the Kenyan 1-2 with victory giving him the eight points on offer to see the 2008 Olympics champion from third in the standings to bag his second career Diamond Race title.
After a rather modest first kilometre, Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen darted to the front just before the bell and made an audacious long-range bid for home.
It briefly looked as though he was going to pull off the trick as the chasing pack was slow to react. At the bell, Kiprop was back in 10th place, with Ingebrigtsen 20 metres clear.
However, with just over 200 metres to go, like hyenas chasing down a gazelle, the pack started to hunt down the tiring Norwegian and devoured him coming off the last bend.
Kiprop, fourth with 100 metres to go, then went through the gears down the home straight and passed three men before hitting the front with 40 metres to go, winning in 3:35.79 and taking the Diamond Race into the bargain.
“After Beijing, which was the biggest goal of the season, I knew I had to win here in Zurich to win the Diamond Race. Now I just want to set myself well and prepare for my main priority, the Olympic gold medal,” the tall slender athlete who is evolving to be a modern day legend, assert.
Following him home Manangoi was second in 3:36.01 with Robert Biwott who missed out on the Beijing party completing the Kenyan podium shut out in 3:36.04.
After a disappointing World Championships, where she failed to retain her title and instead had to settle for bronze, Kenya’s Eunice Sum bounced back by taking the 800m in 1:59.14 after nailing her tactics right.
“This race really means a lot to me, after Beijing. I didn’t feel well there but I still made the final. I look forward to the Olympics but it will not be easy,” the Moscow 2013, Commonwealth, African and Continental titleholder expressed her relief after regaining her mettle.
Germany’s Fabienne Kohlmann led into the last bend but Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp got to the front off the last bend. However, neither runner could resist the finishing surge of Sum, who passed both of them with 60 metres to go, her win also confirming her Diamond Race victory as she held on to her title.
Sharp was second in 1:59.37 and Kohlmann third in 1:59.68.
Belarus’s world champion Marina Arzamasova, who won the European title last year on the same track, finished a disappointing fifth in 2:00.69 and always looked a little leaden once the pace started to increase over the final 200 metres.
– Birech hat-trick-
Despite losing on the night to veteran circuit running master and Athens 2004 Olympics bronze medallist, Paul Kipsiele Koech in the men 3000m steeple final, second place was enough to earn Birech his third successive Diamond Race victory in a row.
Kipsiele, having fresher legs due to staying at home while a quartet of his Kenyan compatriots occupied the first four positions in Beijing, sprung a slight surprise by winning the 3000m steeplechase.
He pulled away from his team-mate Birech with just over a lap to go and opened up a gap of 40 metres by the finish, crossing the line in 8:10.24.
Birech, who finished fourth in Beijing after being the most consistent steeplechaser on the international circuit since the start of 2014, finished second in 8:15.64 and had the consolation of taking the Diamond Race.
“I came here to secure the Diamond Race victory. I am so pleased to retain the Diamond Race trophy. I did not medal in Beijing, so I wanted at least to achieve this – and I am happy I did.
“The time is ok; I would have preferred an even faster race. I was not too ambitious, it was ok for me to come second or third, that would still assure the Diamond Race victory,” the delighted winner said after holding on to his crown.
“This season I was late with the training and it was hard for me to catch up with the other guys. Kenyan trials didn’t go well because I don’t feel good racing at high altitudes. I look forward to next year and the Olympic Games,” Kipsiele who last competed at the Worlds in 2009 when he finished fourth added.
After being pushed down the order to fifth by the Kenyan force in China, American Evan Jager ran 8:13.39 to prevent the sweep with Beijing medallists, four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi (14th), Conseslus Kipruto (6th) and Brimin Kipruto (7th) were never a factor here.
After reclaiming the world title with controlled racing through the rounds and the final, Olympics champion, David Rudisha, overcooked the first lap and faded in the closing stages to allow Polish European champion, Adam Kszczot to fire past for victory in 1:45.55 seconds.
Once again, an all too familiar foe stopped the two-time World and African titleholder on his tracks- wet weather.
“This was a fast race after the World Championships. I could not really move well, I think it is because of the rain. I do not like running in the rain. I did not come fourth on purpose. I did not feel my legs move nicely.
“I hope to get good weather for my next race in Rieti. I am based in Tübingen in Germany and have been training well since Beijing. I was looking for a good, fast race and now I am disappointed with my result.
“The track was a little bit hard and also wet today. And I think I was a little bit afraid of this,” Rudisha who ran 1:45.91 for fourth a place behind the man he dethroned in Beijing Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman (1:45.83) explained.
Before Botswana’s Nijel Amos came to the scene after the 2012 Olympics, Aman was the only other athlete to have beaten Rudisha since he first broke the world record in 2010 in wet races in Rome and Rieti.
-Material from IAAF used to compile this report