By Gilbert Wandera and IAAF
Mercy Cherono upset double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot with a thrilling victory in the women 3,000m during the 12th leg of the Samsung Diamond League held in Birmingham on Sunday.
Pacemaker Kenyan Magdalene Masai did as she was told and went through 1000m in 2:58.21, but there were no takers behind her as the field stayed resolutely 30m behind until the half-way mark when compatriots Sally Kipyego and Cheruiyot started to show some interest.
Passing the 2000m mark in 5:59.18, Kipyego, Cherono and Cheruiyot continued to vie for lead with only Britain’s Julia Bleasdale trying to break up Kenyan dominance.
At the bell, Kipyego still held pole but Cheruiyot pressed her and eventually forced her way past with 100m to go.
But it was not a convincing push and Cherono came though strongly to just edge her compatriot by 0.01 in 8:40.21.
“I am happy to beat Cheruiyot, my fellow Kenyan,” Cherono told IAAF. “The season went well for me but as I missed out on making the Olympic team, this is a nice way to finish. After running such a tactically astute race in Lausanne, Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo, allowed herself to get hopelessly boxed in when the racing started and she could only watch as the Olympic champion Mariya Savinova raced away to win in 2:00.40.
After dawdling at the rear of the field for 380m, Savinova came though strongly to pass the bell in 61.76 and was never overtaken from there on. At 600m, America’s Maggie Vessey and Britain’s Lynsey Sharp were trying to get on level terms, but that was when Savinova took off and the race was as good as over.
Jelimo woke up to the danger but she started her effort was far too late and was just a spectator finishing over a second down on the Russian at the line.
Britain’s Marilyn Okoro came through for third.
Kenyan runners also failed to sparkle in the men 1,500m, which was won by World indoor bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremehdin of Ethiopia.
Nixon Chepseba finished second with Commonwealth silver medallist, James Kiplagat coming home third.