Pacesetter Nyambura saves the day for Kenya in Doha

By evelyn watta
May 15, 2015
  • Virginia Nyambura(2942) in a past race in Nairobi. She won her first career run in Doha on Friday.(Photo:SNA file)

  • Virginia Nyambura after she won the race in Doha on Friday.

DOHA, Virginia Nyambura had her work cut out at the opening IAAF Diamond league 3000m-steeplechase race in Doha on Friday.

Pace till the 2000m mark and leave the field of 15 hopefuls to chase for top honours, in what was yet another spirited Ethiopia – Kenya contest at the Qatar Sports Club.

The 25-year-old Kenyan runner who trains in Kapsabet with 2013 world champion Milcah Chemos did her job well and then she kept going- all the way to the finish line.

She solildly eased past Hiwott Ayelew, last year’s Diamond Race winner for a 9:21.51 win, a personal best and a world lead.

Ethiopian Ayalew, runner-up at least season’s Continental Cup timed second as world silver medalist from Moscow Lidya Chepkurui of Kenya finished fourth in 9:27.62 behind Bahraini Ethiopian born Tigest Getent(9:27.07).

“I don’t know what happened there. I was just racing against the clock as usual as a pacer....to win was an unexpected ” said Nyambura still coming to terms with her first career win in only her third ever diamond league race finish, Kenya’s only victory of the evening in five events here in Doha.

“I was coming here to pace a clear brief I had from my coach Alex (Sang). He told me after 2000m I was to fall back, and I did just that moved to lane three. Then I realized no one was coming to take over so I decided to stay on till the finish. I can surely run faster this season and set new targets,” said the Kenyan whose only big race was the Youth Olympics heats race in Singapore in 2010.

Farah second, Longosiwa third

As expected, double Olympic champion Mo Farah found himself in the middle of the fierce rivalry between traditional rivals Ethiopia and Kenya.

It was a race Hagos Gebrhiwet, the 2013 World Championships silver medallist at 5000m tactically won  for Ethiopia with a home stretch dash past a fading Thomas Longosiwa, the Kenyan London Olympic bronze medalist.

Yenew Alamirew seeking to improve his meet record from 2011 led at the bell for about 200m before Longosiwa eased past in the second last bend seeking his first win in Doha in seven appearances.

Hagos held on from a charging Farah for a world lead 7:38.08 win, as the British timed 7:38.22. Longosiwa was the first of the Kenyans in third 7:39.22 as Isiah Kiplangat Koech, the 2013 World Championships bronze medallist and 2012 Olympic finalist dropped to sixth in 7:40.39.

“I was eager to win this race because of Mo Farah. He beat me in London and Moscow so today is my day,”said Gebrhiwet as Longisiwa rued his early kick.

“These guys are beatable. I only mistimed my kick and kicked too early but i'll go back and work on it in training in Iten for my next race in Rome.”

Yego opens season with 81.98

Commonwealth games Javelin champion Julius Yego got the desired start with his fifth round throw of 81.98m that ranked him 7th of the field of 10 topped by Tero Pitkamaki, the 2007 world champion and silver winner from Moscow who speared a world lead of 88.62 in the sixth round.

“I am looking to compete and test myself. So I have Ostrava, Rome and Birmingham before the trials for Beijing. This year my target is 87m and beyond as you have seen from today's event, guys are in great shape and I have to keep up with them,”said Yego looking to improve on his personal best of 85.40m.

Ayanleh wins 800m

The 800m was a mixed bag of fortune for Kenyan runners as the anticipated duel pitting Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic and world champion (1500m) of Kenya and world champion Mohammed Aman’s falling flat barely half way into the race.

Kiprop was the fastest of the Kenyans at the 400m mark which he crossed in 50.4 as he primed to take the lead but only for a while before Souleiman Ayanleh of Djibouti the world silver medalist, eased forward at the 200m a lead he nobly guarded until he crossed the line first in 1:43.78 as Fergusson Rotich dashed past compatriot Alfred Kipketer, the world junior champion for second in 1:44.53, his season best. The fast rising junior timed 1:44.59 as Kiprop faded to fifth (1:45.11).

“It was a good start for me coming back from a slight injury that forced me to drop from the Bahamas team(World relays). I am sure I will pick up well and looking forward to racing Souileiman in the mile in Eugene,” said Kiprop, winner of the 800m race in Doha in 2011.

“I am happy that I beat a lot of big names in Doha but that is my goal for the year. I want to win all the races until the end of the season including the world championships in Beijing where I will run 1500m,”offered Souleiman.

“I was targeting a top three here and I got it. It’s a good start for me and it can only get better. I have been working on my finish but still need to tighten my first 200m,”said Rotich.

Aman who has shifted his based to Eugene, Oregon struggled home ninth in 1:47.38.

American sprinters Justin Gatlin, London bronze holder and reigning Olympic champion Alyson Felix ruled the Doha tracks with the former setting a meet record of 9.74m in the dash and the latter winning her diamond league race in 21.98 ahead of Ivorian Ahouire Murielle(22.29).