NAIROBI, Kenya, July 15 – Olympic and three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop lost his first race of the season after finishing to a disappointing sixth place in a race won by compatriot Ronald Kwemoi at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco on Friday night.
The men’s star-studded 1500m race was the highlight of the meeting with the biggest upset seeing pre-race favourite Kiprop fail to sparkle despite leading the opening two laps to end up sixth in 3:32.03.
In a race featuring five of the 10 fastest over the distance of all time, pace setters Andrew Rotich and Jackson Kivuva, with Kiprop on their tails, set off on a startling pace in perfect running conditions.
Morocco’s world bronze medallist Abdalaati Iguider hit the bell in the lead ahead of Kiprop and Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi, who had disrupted Mo Farah’s pace when he clipped him earlier in the race at Monaco’s Stade Louis II.
Coming into the home straight, Kwemoi showed a burst of speed to come through the line in a season’s best of 3:30.49 with world silver medallist Elijah Manangoi taking second in 3:31.19 and Makhloufi third returning 3:31.35.
Farah, reigning Olympic gold medallist in the 5000m and 10,000m and defending two-time world champion in both events, showed his own finishing skills by nipping past Kiprop at the line.
Despite the loss, Kiprop who finished first at the Kenyan Olympics Trials ahead of Manang’oi and Kwemoi respectively still leads the standings on 31 points.
Manang’oi is second on 28 points while Kwemoi has 10 points.
In the women’s 3000m, Hellen Obiri was in a class of her own, leading compatriots Mercy Cherono and Janet Kisa to a podium sweep.
Obiri, who will represent Kenya at the Rio Olympics in the same event, led from start to finish, crossing the line in 8:24.27 ahead of Commonwealth champion Mercy Cherono who returned 8:27.25 while Kisa came home third in 8:28.33.
The three Kenyans managed to open the gap after three rounds with Obiri, a 2012 World Indoor champion leading all the way to announce her intentions of bagging a medal at the Rio Olympic Games when she will represent Kenya in the 5000m.
-No stopping Kipruto-
As expected the men’s 3000m steeplechase was a Kenyan affair as world leader Conseslus Kipruto claimed his fourth successive win Diamond League meet this season.
It was a tight was towards the home straight with three Kenyans Kipruto, Paul Kipsiele Koech and Barnabas Kipyego.
In the end, Kipruto managed to accelerate to cross the line in 8:08.11 with Kipsiele settling second on 8:08.32 while Kipyego completed the podium after clocking 8:09.13.
Kipruto controls the standings on 50 points and looks pretty to win the ultimate prize with his eyes fixed on London Diamond League next week.
“I could have done a faster time today but I did not want to push myself to the limit,” the Kenyan said. “I preferred to smile at the finish line and save some energy for Rio.”
In the men’s 800m, Alfred Kipketer, who won Kenya’s Olympics Trials maximized the absence of big wigs to dominate the race in 1:44.47 ahead of countryman Nicholas Kiplagat (1:44.49) who was placed second and Adam Kszczot of Poland (1:44.59).
The corresponding women’s 800m was won by on form South African Caster Semenya who posted a world lead of 1:55.33 to condemn Burundian Francine Niyonsaba to second (156.24) while Kenya’s Margaret Wambui Nyairera was third after clocking her Personal Best of1:56.64.
Eunice Sum, the 2013 World Champion in Moscow faded to fourth in the process clocking his season best of 1:57.47.