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Hellen Obiri all smiles after winning the 5,000m race at the Monaco Diamond League. PHOTO/Meeting Herculis/Twitter

Athletics

Red-hot Obiri powers Kenyans to clean sweep in Doha Diamond League

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 25 – In-form double 5000m World Champion Hellen Obiri was in her own class after winning the hotly contested 3000m race to lead fellow Kenyans to a podium sweep in Doha Meet which concluded the series of the 2020 Wanda Diamond League on Friday.

Obiri clocked a World Leading time of 8:22.54, in a race that saw seven women dip under 8:27 – the first time in history this happened.

Agnes Tirop, the 2015 World Cross Country champion came in second in a photo-finish Personal Best time of 8:22.92, micro seconds ahead of World 3000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech who occupied the third place also setting her Personal Best time.

The fourth and fifth places belonged to Kenya as well where Margaret Chelimo, the 2015 Africa Games 5000m champion was fourth in a Personal Best time of 8:24.76 while 2015 world champion in 3000m steeplechase, Hyvin Kiyeng came home fifth also in a Personal Best time of 8:25.13 to wrap up Kenya’s clean sweep.

“Doha has become like a second home to me as I’ve won so many races here, including the World Championships last year. I’ve been training in Doha for about a month in preparation for this event and I believe it has helped me to get in shape and acclimatise quite well,” said Obiri.

Little more than 24 hours earlier, the world cross-country champion from Kenya had explained how Doha was one of her favourite cities to race in, having set her 3000m here in 2014 and last year retaining her world 5000m title in the Khalifa Stadium.

But when Chepkoech breezed into the lead with about 550 metres left in tonight’s 3000m race, Obiri kept her cool for another 200 metres before she unleashed her trademark kick for home, eventually winning in a world-leading 8:22.54.

The field of 15 women, loaded with world and Olympic medallists, was paced through the first kilometre in 2:48.46. Obiri and Chepkoech were tucked behind the pacemaker with world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop and world 5000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi also near the front of the tightly-bunched pack.

After the pacemaker dropped out at the 1600m point, Obiri led the pack and reached 2000m in 5:39.70, the pace having slowed slightly. Eight women were still in contention with two laps to go with Obiri, Chepkoech, Tirop and Chelimo still occupying the first four places.

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Chepkoech made her move as she entered the home straight for the penultimate time, but Obiri responded with about 350 metres remaining, her head rocking and arms fighting, as is often her style at the end of races.

Tirop and Chepkoech made up some ground in the final stages, but Obiri held on to win in 8:22.54, the second-fastest time of her career behind the 8:20.68 African outdoor record she set on this track six years ago.

The next five women to cross the line were all rewarded with PBs. Tirop and Chepkoech finished second and third respectively, both timed at 8:22.92, while Kipkemboi (8:24.76) and 2015 world steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng (8:25.13) were fourth and fifth. For the first time in history, seven women finished inside 8:27.

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