NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – On a year she is set to defend her World 3000m steeplechase champion in London, United Kingdom, Hyvin Kiyeng passed a strong message to her biggest competitor, Olympic champion Ruth Jebet in the first race of the track season in Doha, Qatar on Friday.
Kiyeng produced a superb final 200m run as she out-sprinted the Kenyan-turned Bahraini to win the first race of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League, crossing the line barely just outside the sub-nine minute mark.
The 25 year old stopped the clock in a time of 9:00.12 digging deep into her energy reserves to wade off Jebet who dipped to third in a time of 9:01.99.
The Olympic silver medallist has now twice come frustratingly close to the event’s nine-minute barrier; her personal best still sits on that cusp at 9:00.01. But if she was frustrated, the 25-year-old didn’t show it.
“The time is good for the start of the season. The race was competitive and tough,” she said after the race.
She had been patient all through the race even when Jebet leapt to the lead with three laps left to run. All before that, Kiyeng who also represented Kenya in March’s Kampala IAAF World Cross Country championships sat at fourth spot observing the race.
The two rivals dipped into the final water hurdle together and once Kiyeng had her eyes up with the finishing line in the horizon, she unleashed the energy she had reserved all through the race to out-pace the Bahraini who had beaten her to the Olympic gold in Rio.
She ensured she went over the final hurdle ahead and once she kicked in, there was no stopping her.
It was not only Kiyeng who had a superb race in Doha.
World Junior champion Celliphine Chespol, 18, produced a superb race to shave almost 15 seconds off the World Under-20 record, setting a new one at 9:05.70, lowering the previous 9:20.37 mark held by Ethiopian Birtukan Adamu set at the Rome Golden Gala in 2011.
-Kenyans dominate 1500m-
In another race, Elijah Manang’oi led six Kenyans across the finish line as he won the 1500m race in a time of 3:31.90 ahead of compatriot Silas Kiplagat. Manang’oi blasted away in the final 50 metres of the race after battling through a packed field that went in together at the home stretch.
Manang’oi alongside Timothy Cheruiyot, Bethwell Birgen and Kiplagat had gone shoulder to shoulder with less than 300m left but a sprint finish saw the World Silver medalist come out tops.
Birgen finished third with Vincent Kibet, Cheruiyot and Robert Biwott coming in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
In the 300m flat men’s race, African 1500m Bronze Medalist Ronald Kwemoi sprinted off his compatriots to win the race in a time of 7:28.23, beating Kenyan-turned American Paul Chelimo who finished in a time of 7:31.57.
Kwemoi ran so well that he attracted the attention of three-time World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop who tweeted; “If Ronald Kwemoi will run 5k at world champs in London, he is the only athlete at the moment who stands a chance to win it for Kenya.”
At the same time, Olympic Javelin champion Thomas Rohler pushed Kenyan Julius Yego off the World’s second best thrower slot as he pushed in a 93.90 throw. Yego, making his first appearance since pulling a groin injury in the Rio Olympics last August did not fare well, finishing sixth with a best throw of 81.94.