NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9 – World 3,000m steeplechase Record Holder Beatrice Chepkoech and World 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi were victorious on the second and final day of the IAAF Inter-Continental Cup in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Despite the two victories plus a win in the 800m for World and Olympic Champion Caster Semenya, it was not enough to hand Team Africa the victory in the Cup as they finished bottom with 142 points, with the Americas winning with 262 points.
Europe were second with 233 points while Asia Pacicif collected 166.
World record holder Chepkoech was the runaway victor in the women’s 3000m steeplechase with a new Cup record of 9:07.92 after taking the lead from the gun and was never in any danger of being caught.
By the time the runners reached the 400m point, Chepkoech had built a lead of some 10 metres. The gap only kept on growing as she reached 1000 metres in a very fast 2:57.91.
The Kenyan appeared to be running well within her limits over the remainder of the distance, with her pace slowing down somewhat, but still much too fast for her rivals.
“I thought I had to run in the front in order not to be in the elimination,” the winner explained afterwards. “I was tired after the season, but I did not want to set a slow pace and to have to speed up every 400 metres to escape elimination.”
Courtney Frerichs of the US and Winfred Mutile Yavi of Bahrain were running together in second and third in the closing stages of the race before the American sprinted well clear over the final lap to take second in 9:15.22, with the Asian Games champion third with 9:17.86.
Well back in fourth was Anna Emilie Moller, the 20-year old Dane, who had to work hard to avoid elimination on earlier laps and struggled over the final 400 metres to finish in 9:42.57.
Ethiopian Weynshet Ansa was eliminated three laps from the finish, but continued on the track for another lap, resulting in a disqualification. With that, it was the Americas who earned top team points.
-Manangoi rules 1500m
Running with the composed confidence of a world champion, Manangoi dispatched his rivals from around the globe for the second straight year with a peerless performance to win the 1500m.
The Kenyan ran a relaxed opening half to the race, sitting in behind early leader Drew Hunter of Team Americas, who towed them through 400m in 60.74.
Manangoi moved to the front on the next lap, hitting 800m in 2:03.56, but it was solely to secure prime position for the last lap burn-up.
He was soon joined by European duo Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Marcin Lewandowski, who clung to Manangoi’s shoulder as the African hit 1200m in 3:01.19.
By then the pace had truly clicked into gear, Manangoi stretching the field out behind him in a line. Around the last turn Lewandowski came charging at him but Manangoi had plenty up his sleeve, changing gears once he turned for home and surging away to win in 3:40.00.
“This means a lot to me because it wasn’t only about my own ambitions but to bring as many points as possible to Team Africa,” said Manangoi.
“I knew it would not be easy, but you have to be ready for a very tactical race. It’s the finish to a really great year. I won Commonwealth Games, African Championships and after this win at the Continental Cup I’m going to start preparations for Doha 2019.”
Behind Manangoi, Lewandowski turned the tables on Ingebrigtsen from their European 1500m final by taking second in 3:40.42, with the young Norwegian closing out a superb season in third with 3:40.80.
Europe took the maximum eight points in the team event courtesy of Lewandowski and Ingebrigtsen’s joint effort behind Manangoi.
In the 3,000m, African champion Edward Zakayo finished in fifth place in a race won by former Kenyan Paul Chelimo who now runs for the United States of America.