Kenyans dominate Bowerman Mile as Kemboi leads a 1-2 in the Steeplechase

Jun 05, 2021

The Bowerman Mile race produced a high quality contest with the first five finishers dipping under 3:50 and five more beating the 3:52 barrier e Prefontaine Classic - Samsung Diamond League meeting in Eugene,USA on Saturday.

Pacemakers Mark Wieczorek and Joshphat Kithll led the 14 strong field through metric splits of 55.62, 1:54.73 and 2:52.11 with Silas Kiplagat at the point passing through 1500m in 3:34.46.

The pace began to heat up frantically down the back-straight and down the final 100m it looked as if Kiplagat the 21-year-old Commonweaqlth gold medallist might hold on and clinch victory.

But 20m from the finish line Haron Keitany, who set his personal best of 3:48.78 in the 2009 Bowerman race, slipped by on the inside to win in a world lead of 3:49.09.

Kiplagat lowered his PB by three seconds to 3:49.39 in the progress taking the scalp of Olympic 1500 champion Asbel Kiprop, the winner of the race for the last two years whose time of 3:49.55 ensured a Kenyan 1-2-3.

Reigning World 3000 Steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi making his season's debut again demonstrated the superiority he holds over fellow Kenyan Paul Koech with a solid victory in that event.

Kemboi as he has done so many times powered away after winding the pace up at the bell to win in a time of 8:08.34 ahead of Koech who clocked 8:10.13 and Ethiopia's Gary Roba who posted a season's fastest of 8:11.34. 

Haron Lagat set a brisk early pace through the first kilometre in 2:45.57 and led to the second (5:33.92) before calling it a day, his pace-making duties over. Koech also second at the first Samsung Diamond League Steeplechase in Shanghai, then took over the front running but when Olympic champion Kemboi moved onto to his shoulder at the bell, the result seemed inevitable.

Roba runner-up at the 2010 IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup got between his fellow African's down the back-straight but Kemboi's response approaching with 200m to run was to produce an explosive turn of speed. That carried him well clear as Koech earned more valuable Diamond Run points when passing Roba coming off the final water jump obstacle.

World 800m champion Caster Semenya making her debut on American soil, although running what seemed a tactically inept race that let the eventual winner get away unchallenged, came through in the home straight to earn second place behind a dominant Kenia Sinclair.

The 20-year-old South African managed to clock 1:58.88 her first sub-two minute display of the season behind Jamaica's IAAF VTB Bank Continental Cup silver medallist who roared away to a world lead of 1:58.29. Janeth Jepkosgei, who preceded Semenya as World champion, was third in 1:59.15.

Eighth for most of the race Semenya gradually moved into a podium position down the back-straight but Sinclair and her other experienced opponents forced her to run in the second lane until coming off the final bend.

Into the home straight Sinclair unbeaten on the track this year accelerated to a convincing victory with Semenya also speeding up, successfully moving past Jepkosgei. Janeth Jepkosgei placed third behind the Jamaican and South African in 1:59.15 while her compatriot Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo faded off to finish a distant 11th in the race way off the two minutes barrier in 2:09.12.

In the non Diamond Race events there was also a 800m world lead from Abubaker Kaki who flew around his two laps in 1:43.68. His meet record left the USA's Khadevis Robinson and Boaz Lagat of Kenya well off the pace as they finished in 1:45.40 and 1:45.49.

Ethiopia's Gelete Burka (4:04.63) with a strong finish inflicted the first 1500m defeat of the summer on Bahrain's world leader Maryam Jamal (4:05.44), with Morgan Uceny of the USA third in 4:06.32.