How Nelly Jepkosgei topped women’s 800m race in Rabat

By Dennis Okeyo and IAAF: Tuesday, June 18th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir celebrates after winning a past race. [Reuters]

Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei held on to win her first women’s 800m Diamond League meeting in Rabat on Sunday night as Emmanuel Korir lost, yet again, to Nijel  Amos of Botswana. 

With the absence of familiar faces that included South African Caster Semenya, Jepkosgei timed 1:59.50, to narrowly beat Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu, who clocked 1:59.90, while Olha Lyakhova of Ukraine was third in 2:00.35.

Semenya was temporarily allowed to compete after appealing to Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court (SFT) against the world governing body's IAAF rules restricting her over testosterone levels but missed out in Rabat after she said she was not invited in good time.

In men’s 800m  Amos, Botswana’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist, produced a typically spiky performance to once again edge out Korir.

Kenya’s Jonathan Kitilit led the field into the back straight before Korir took over on the final bend. 

Just like in the opening leg of this year's Diamond League campaign in Doha last month, Korir, who is coached by Paul Ereng, seemed to struggle with his sprinting power in the finishing straight.

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Amos clocked 1:45.57, with Korir recording 1:45.60 and Clayton Murphy of the United States, was third in 1:45.99.

In men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Kenyans were once again beaten in a race hitherto considered their forte, as Ethiopian finished 1-2.

Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale won in 8:06.01 ahead of compatriot Chala Beyo, who clocked a personal best of 8:06.48. Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen was third in 8:07.25.

With World champion Conseslus Kipruto still out injured, all eyes were on world silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco.

But the race ended in an anti-climax of some sort to the home fans as their man, having led for two-thirds of the race, dropped away to finish last.

In men’s High Jump, French-based Mathew Sawe scaled a season-best of 2.28metres to finish fourth in an event won by  Bohdan Bondarenko Ukraine. 

In 5,000m non-Diamond League race, World under-20 champion Edward Zakayo ran a tactical race to win in 13:11.49 ahead of Solomon Berihu, who timed 13:16.08.

Soufiyan Bouqantar (13:17.26) of Morocco was third.

Eugene will host Prefontaine Classic, the seventh leg of Diamond League series on June 30. 

Meanwhile, Kenyan-born Bahraini Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, who won marathon silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has been suspended for four years for doping, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced yesterday.

Kirwa had been provisionally banned since May after the prohibited blood-booster EPO was detected in her blood sample. Her four-year suspension is backdated to May 7, 2019.

The 35-year-old finished second in Rio behind Kenya's Jemima Sumgong, who was banned for eight years in January for attempting to hinder an investigation into her use of EPO by supplying false documents.

Kirwa, who also won world bronze in Beijing in 2015, can appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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