EUGENE, United States, May 27 – Teenaged Kenyan star Celliphine Chespol recovered from a lost shoe to win the 3000m steeplechase with the second fastest time in history at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting on Friday.
Chespol, still just 18, stormed to victory after a thrilling duel with Olympic champion and world record holder Ruth Jebet and fellow Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech over the closing laps at Eugene’s Hayward Field.
Chespol’s hopes of a win looked to have evaporated when she stumbled on the water jump on the penultimate lap, appearing to lose her shoe as Jebet and Chepkoech pulled ahead.
Despite stooping to adjust her footwear, the teenager regained her composure and clawed back the lost ground before producing a devastating burst of speed up the home straight to finish in 8min 58.78sec. Only the Kenyan-born Jebet of Bahrain, the world record holder with 8:52.78, has run faster.
“It was difficult but I try my best. I’m happy of course,” Chespol said afterwards.
Chespol’s outstanding performance was the highlight of the opening night of the two-day event, which resumes Saturday with a star-studded programme.
In the night’s other main race, the women’s 5000m, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba failed in her bid to better the world record of 14:11.15 set by her sister Tirunesh in 2008.
Dibaba, the 1,500m world champion, was racing against the clock for the final five laps after leaving the pack behind but could only finish in 14:25.22, well outside the world record, and her own personal best of 14:15.41 set in 2015.
– Dibaba unhappy with time –
Lilian Rengeruk was a distant second in 14:36.80 while Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands was third.
“I’m happy that I won but I’m not happy about the time,” Dibaba said through an interpreter. “The pace was real slow and I’m not happy with how we started.
“We lost time in the first 3,000 metres and it was hard to come back after that.”
In the long jump, 2012 Olympic champion Brittney Reese of the United States posted a world-leading leap of 7.01 metres (23 feet) for victory.
Reese’s jump handed her victory over 2016 Olympic gold medallist and compatriot Tianna Bartoletta, who could only manage a best of 6.83m. Britain’s Lorraine Ugen was third with a jump of 6.78m.
“The goal was to come out and jump seven metres, just to see where my training and everything was at,” said Reese, who will be aiming to dethrone Bartoletta at the World Championships in London in August.
“I feel like I’m headed in the right direction to where I want to be. It was really important to come out here and tell myself I could perform.”
The women’s javelin meanwhile saw a victory for Belarus’s Tatsiana Khaladovich, who topped a strong field which included 2016 Olympic gold medallist Sara Kolak of Croatia and Czech world record holder Barbora Spotakova.
Khaladovich claimed victory with her opening throw of the night, a 66.30m effort which was more than a metre further than her closest rival, China’s Liu Shiying, who finished second with 65.21m.
Kolak was third with a throw of 64.64m while Spotakova was fourth with a best of 63.30m.