There were plenty of upsets at the Brussels Diamond league meet which is the penultimate meet in the Diamond league for 2014. Most Kenyan fans expected the Kenyan contingent to wrap up their 2014 campaign. But it was not to be as the top Kenyans like Eunice Sum, Asbel Kiprop and others fell to upstarts. The losses can be explained by fatigue. It has been a long season for most of the Kenyan contingent. Most of them ran several rounds in the Commonwealth games then repeated the same at the African championships. However their were some redeeming moments specifically from steeplechaser Jairus Birech and by Mercy Cherono in the 3000m. In otherraces, two Kenyans who showed a lot of promise: Conselus Kipruto and Timothy Kitum continued with their inexplicable loss of form.
Jairus Birech runs first sub 8:00 minute steeplechase of the year
Jairus Birech has thoroughly and utterly dominated the steeplechase this season. This Friday in Brussels was no different except that he became the first person to break the 8 minute barrier this season and the 11th person to do so in the history of the race. He finished in a time of 7:58.41
In 2012 and 2013, Conselus Kipruto looked like the heir apparent to the legendary Ezekiel Kemboi. This year however he has fallen far short of expectations. In this race he finished a distance 5th in 8:16.90, behind two Americans including Evan Jager who broke the American record. Hillary Yego, another Kenyan who showed promise in the past ended up 7th. Kenyans will be hoping that Yego and Kipruto can rediscover their form from 2013.
Mercy Cherono wins $50,000
One runner who did not let fatigue get in the way was Commonweath games champ Mercy Cherono. She uncorked a 60 second last lap to beat a strong field in the 3000m. The field included Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba who set world records at the Indoor versions of this event earlier in the season.
Also competing was new mile sensation Sifan Hassan who represents the Netherlands having gone their as a refugee from Ethiopia. Sifan was second, Dibaba third while Americans Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury were 4th and 5th.
With the win, Cherono won $50,000 ($10,000 for the win and $40,000 for the season title) as she needed just to be Genzebe Dibaba in this race to win the season title.
What was most impressive about Cherono’s win was the way she passed four milers in the last 100m. Typically milers have a stronger finishing kick than longer distance runners.
Eunice Sum succumbs to fatigue
One runner who is showing signs of fatigue is world champion Eunice Sum. After throughly dominating the 800m earlier in the season, Sum has progressively shown signs of regressing. She has lost her last three diamond league races.
On the other hand, Brenda Martinez, the American who won the race had taken a 2 month racing break after finishing 5th at the American championships. He fresh legs showed in the last 200m as she blasted past Sum and the rest of the field. Sum launched a late comeback and closed the gap but ran out of running real estate. Briton Lynsey Sharp who beat Sum last weekend past her again at the finish line.
Silas Kiplagat celebrates too early and gets pipped
In the 1500m, Silas Kiplagat lost by only 0.02 seconds to Algerian Olympic champ Tarek Makhloufi who won in 3:31.78 just ahead of Silas Kiplagat in 3:31.80
World indoor champ Ayanleh Souleiman was third in 3:32.82. A win by Souleiman would have given him the DL points title and $40,000. Instead, the $40,000 prize went to Kiplagat. Two-time World outdoor, one-time Olympic champ Asbel Kiprop, who would have won the DL title by simply beating Kiplagat and Souleiman and finishing in the top 3, didn’t have the goods in the final 150 today and was just 12th in the 3:34.41. Asbel Kiprop gave up when he realized he was out of contention and jogged the final 50m to finish a dissapointing 11th. It has been and up and down season for Kiprop whose season started with an arrest when he was accused of fighting with a bar owner who would wanted to close the bar while Asbel and his friends were watching the English premier league.
Timothy Kitum still below par
Another runner who showed a lot of promise earlier was Timothy Kitum. In 2012, as a 17 year old, he won the bronze medal at the Olympics with a superb time of 1:42.53. This was the race in which David Rudisha broke the world record. But Kitum literally fell off the map and did not race in 2013. He is now back on the comeback trail but still finished a dissapointing 9th in the 1000m with a time of 2:18.33. Compatriot Ferguson Cheruiyot was 4th in 2:16.88
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