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Nyairera fails in third bid to beat Semenya

Caster Semenya coasts to win the 800m race at the Oslo leg of the IAAF Diamond League. PHOTO/IAAF

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 16 – National 800m champion Margaret Nyairera failed in her third bid to beat Olympic champion Caster Semenya when the two lined up together at the Oslo leg of the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday night.

The race finished in the exact identical fashion it did in Rio de Janeiro in August last year during the Olympic Games with Burundian Francine Niyonsaba coming in second while Nyairera finished third.

The Kenyan had finished second in both occasions she has met Semenya in the Diamond League this season in Doha and Eugene and had hoped to pick one over the South African this time round.

However, Nyairera faded away in the final 100m of the race with Semenya showing her superb final kicks to pip Niyonsaba in the final 50 metres of the race.

Semenya was lurking behind Nyairera and Niyonsaba at the bell with the Burundian bolting out at the home straight. However, Semenya took on the duo in the final stretch and Nyairera had to dig deep to pick the third spot.

Semenya clocked 1:57.79 while Niyonsaba timed 1:58.18 and Nyairera 1:59.17.

In the other races of the night, World 1500m silver medalist Elijah Manang’oi was shocked by Briton Jake Wightman who won the race with a personal best time of 3:34.17 with Manang’oi finishing second in 3:34.30.

Jake Wightman celebrates after beating Elijah Manang’oi at the Oslo leg of the IAAF Diamond League. PHOTO/IAAF

“I can’t believe it still. I had never expected to win this, so this was a great step in the right direction. I expected it to go faster here, so I didn’t run so fast that I thought, but a personal best is great,” the Briton said after the race.

Manang’oi who finished fourth in Rome in the 800m found it tough against Wightman despite having shown early intentions by sticking close to the pace setters in the opening two laps of the race.

Wightman pulled away in the final 100m and despite Manang’oi putting in a spirited run to catch up with him, the Briton ecstatically crossed the line first.

The only winner of the night in the Norwegian city was African steeplechase champion Norah Jeruto who won her first career Diamond League race with a photo finish over Ethiopia’s Assefa Sofia.

Jeruto clocked 9:17.27, seven micro seconds ahead of Assefa. She dug deep into her energy reserves in the final 50m of the race and stuck out her head and arms over Assefa who had attempted to elbow her out as they approached the finish line.

“It was a very important race for me and also a win. I will have it tough at Kenyan trials to make the team. But God willing I will get it. We are Kalenjins always fighting,” Jeruto exclaimed after the race.