NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – World silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot finished off his season in style, bagging the 1500m Diamond Trophy after wading off stiff competition from World Champion and training partner Elijah Manangoi in the final on Thursday night in Zurich, Switzerland.
Cheruiyot who lost the World Title to Manangoi in London less than a fortnight ago maintained a strong finishing kick to cross the line in a time of 3:33.84, bagging not only the coveted Diamond Trophy but a cash reward of Sh5mn.
Contrary to previous seasons where the overall winner was determined by the number of points accrued throughout the season, the IAAF Diamond League adopted a championship style model in 2017.
According to the model, athletes earn points at the qualification meetings to qualify for the final of their respective disciplines.
Each of the disciplines is staged six or four times before the final. At each of the 12 qualification meetings, Athletes are awarded 8-1 points for ranking first to eighth respectively.
The top 8 or 12 athletes (depending on the discipline) will be awarded a start at the Final. In case of a tie, the best legal performance of the qualification phase wins.
The winner at the final of each Diamond Discipline will become ‘IAAF Diamond League Champion’ and be awarded a Diamond Trophy, a cash reward of Sh5mn (USD 50,000) and a wild card to the next IAAF World Championships.
Cheruiyot was the only Kenyan to win the Diamond Trophy on the first final night in Zurich but he had to endure extreme tough competition with five other Kenyans crossing the finish line respectively behind him.
Silas Kiplagat came in second in 3:34.26 while Manangoi crossed the line third in 3:34.65. Three-time Diamond Trophy winner Asbel Kiprop pulled up from the tail of the pack to cross the line in fourth ahead of Charles Cheboi.
Manangoi had hoped to cap his fine season with another diadem and he showed his intentions when he bolted out alongside the pace setters from the gun. However, he could not sustain the same tempo and at the bell, Cheruiyot and Kiplagat had caught up with him.
Cheruiyot kicked upfront at the back straight and he kept his surge till the final 50 meters with Manangoi losing hope and slowing off with the finish line in the horizon.
In the women’s 3,000m, Beatrice Chepkoech put off her London World Championships woes when she became only the fourth woman to run under nine minutes, finishing second behind Olympic champion Ruth Jebet in 8:59.24.
Chepkoech finished fourth at the London Worlds and embarrassingly forgot to skip over the water hurdle during the race, but she put all that behind to put up a spirited fight and clock a Personal best time.
Kenyan-turned Bahraini Jebet ran the second fastest ever race, smashing the meeting record and putting up a monstrous World Leading time when she clocked 8:55.29, a few second shy off her own World Record.
The two, Chepkoech and Jebet pulled off from the leading pack early in the race and maintained a two-pronged attack at the Diamond Trophy for most of the contest.
Chepkoech tried to pull away from Jebet at the final lap, but once the two of them stepped on the last water barrier, Jebet sprung up and employed a devastating final kick to win the race.
“It was a great race. I wanted to run this time in London but I wasn’t feeling good. It was three seconds from my personal best but the record is mine. Next year there is a new chance,” Jebet said after the race.
Norah Jeruto was third, knocking off more than 10 seconds off her PB to finish in 9:05.31. Newly crowned World Champion Emma Coburn of the US finished second in 9:14.81, just ahead of 2015 World Champion Hyvin Kiyeng who clocked 9:14.93.
In the 800m, Caster Semenya once again proved her worth recording a 20th straight win in the two lap-race, powering ahead of Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera in a finish that has been way too familiar this season.
Nyairera who missed out on a World Championship medal in London had strode forward in the final 50metres after it seemed she would finish at best in sixth place.
– Mo Farah winds up in style (IAAF) –
Elsewhere, Mo Farah brought his track career to an end in the most fitting fashion, producing a dramatic 5000m victory with a dipping finish.
It was classic Farah and couldn’t have been scripted better, a performance athletics fans around the world have come to expect from the two-time double Olympic and world champion, with the Briton emerging triumphant from a scrappy homestretch brawl that left a small pile of bodies on the ground in his wake.
Biding his time near the middle of the pack in the early stages, Farah worked his way to the front with about 1400 meters remaining, taking turns at the lead with Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed.
He positioned himself in front at the bell with Ethiopians Muktar Edris, the world champion, and Yomif Kejelcha shadowing him closely.
Paul Chelimo of the US joined the melee over the final half lap, turning the race into a four-man skirmish over the final 200 meters.
Farah fought valiantly down the final straight, fighting off or charging back every move his opponents threw his way. Sprinting towards the line, eyeballs out and grimacing, he held firm, even in the blanket finish, to take the win in 13:06.05, just 0.04 ahead of Edris and Chelimo, who was later disqualified for obstruction.
“It was important to go out with a victory,” Farah told the crowd, who were still on their feet clapping and paying tribute, several minutes after the race. “It’s every athlete’s dream to go out this way.”