Kemboi, Sum shine in Eugene as Dibaba destroys Kenyans

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
May 31, 2015
  • Eunice Sum held off Ajee Wilson of the U.S.A. to win 800m. (SNA File Photo)

World champions Ezekiel Kemboi and Eunice Sum had a great night at the Profentaine classic in Eugene winning their respective races on Saturday.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Ezekiel Kemboi and Jarius Birech both ran faster than the meeting record of 8:03.59. The two Kenyans were the only two remaining contenders at the final water jump.

Kemboi emerged with a slight lead off the barrier and held it all the way to the finish, winning in 8:01.71 with Birech second in 8:01.83.

The women’s 800m saw another Kenyan win. Eunice Sum and USA’s 2012 world junior champion Ajee Wilson came home clear of their rivals but Sum just held off the American and took the win, and the world lead, in 1:57.82.

Wilson was just 0.2 away from her personal best in second place with 1:57.87. Jenny Simpson held true to her pre-race pledge to prioritise winning over fast times this year. The 2011 world champion ran 4:00.98 in the women’s 1500m and beat a tough field that included Mercy Cherono, Sifan Hassan and Shannon Rowbury.

Dibaba solo run wows crowd

Although the conditions and pacing didn’t make a world record likely in the women’s 5000m, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba made a valiant effort at her older sister Tirunesh’s seven-year-old mark of 14:11.15.

Dibaba backed up her stellar indoor season with a time of 14:19.76, her fastest time outdoors. It moved her up to fourth on the all-time world list outdoors, although only the fourth-fastest Ethiopian. Prior to the race, Dibaba said she was aiming for a personal best even though the afternoon start meant the possibility of warm temperatures and a windy back straight.

She initially took her place behind the pacemaker early on and went through the first kilometre in 2:51, but the pacemaker wasn’t able to hold the quick pace for very long and Dibaba was soon tasked with leading the race herself. She passed 3000m in 8:33, five seconds quicker than Tirunesh managed when she set the world record.

As the final laps ticked off, the crowd noise crew as the possibility of a sub-14:20 became possible despite the heat on a warm day in Oregon.

“I’m very happy,” said Dibaba. “But the last K (1000m) was very hard.” Dibaba’s performance adds to what has been a good early season for the event. Even after the personal best and the meeting record, Dibaba still sits only in second place on the 2015 world list to Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana who ran 14:14.32 two weeks ago in Shanghai.

After Saturday’s race, Dibaba said she will be attacking the world record again soon. Behind Dibaba, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon finished second in 14:31.95, the fastest 5000m debut in history, and 2011 world champion Vivian Cheruiyot Running in only her second international race was third in 14:46.69. Sally Kipyego finished fourth.

The final lap of the Bowerman Mile was extra thrilling because of the presence of local star Matthew Centrowitz.

The crowd roared as he stalked Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman but the latter held his position over the final lap and broke the tape in 3:51.10. Centrowitz had the best IAAF Diamond League finish of his career to come home second in 3:51.20 and finish ahead of Kenya’s world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop

Mohammed Aman held off the field to win the men's 800m taking the lead coming off the turn, and driving hard to the finish in 1:44.92. The Ethiopian finished ahead of Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos who clocked 1:45.06.