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MANANGOI TRIUMPHS: Ngetich also wins in Dusseldorf Indoor Meeting

ATHLETICS By DENNIS OKEYO AND IAAF | February 3rd 2017
[PHOTO: COURTESY]

World 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi put the Olympic Games disappointment behind him to lead Kenyans to victory at the Dusseldorf Indoor Meeting on Wednesday night in Dusseldorf, Germany.

This was his first competition since sustaining a hamstring injury that forced him out of the 1,500m final in 2016 Rio after competing in the opening rounds.

Manangoi ran 3:37.62 to easily defend his 1,500m title he won last year ahead of compatriots Bethwel Birgen (3:37.81) with Silas Kiplagat clocking 3:40.74 to settle for the third position.

The 24-year-old Manangoi, who has been posting brilliant performance since bursting into the athletics scene two years, has set his eyes on attacking the 19-year-old 1,500m record of 3:26.00 held by the Moroccan running legend Hicham El Guerrouj.

“It feels good to post this good performance in my first outing since sustaining a hamstring injury that made me miss the semi-finals in Rio Summer Olympics. I really felt terrible to miss the race but now it’s behind me.

“I’m looking forward to a big performance this year. With world record attempt also in my plans for the season,” he said.

Following the success in Dusseldorf Manangoi will head to the Karlsruhe Indoor Meeting in Germany on Saturday still before closing the IAAF Indoor season in Poland’s Torun Meeting on February 10.

Bernard Ouma, Manangoi’s coach at his Rongai Athletics Club hopes his runner will have a smooth season ahead of 2017 IAAF World Championship in London in August this year.

The boy is training very well, we are thankful he has done well in the rehabilitation that forced him out of the Olympics finals. His muscles have picked up very well. We expect a great season ahead,” Ouma said.

In another race in Dusseldorf Hillary Ngetich (7.44.73) was in a blistering form in clinching the 3,000m race ahead of Dawit Wolde (7.47.66) of Ethiopia while Moroccan Soufian Elbakkali was third in 7:52.54

Another Kenyan Nicholas Kiplangat (1:46.89) ensured a podium finish in the 800m race finishing second behind Adam Kszczot (1:46.17) of Poland. Eric Sowinski of United States took bronze after clocking (1.46.96).

Meanwhile, fans of sporting thrillers were spoilt as the sprint finals went down to the wire in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.

In the men’s 60m hurdles it looked as though the dominant French hurdlers were set to take the sweep, but late addition to the field Orlando Ortega was more than happy to spoil the party.

In a race that initially seemed as though Olympic bronze medallist Dimitri Bascou took the honours in a world-leading 7.51, the Spaniard snuck through in lane seven to be determined winner by photo finish in the same time as the Frenchman. Bascou, who dived over the line in an effort to secure victory, had to be wheeled off the track holding his hamstring in agony.

Garfield Darien in third was just 0.02 behind the two leaders, while Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who clocked a then world-leading 7.54 in the heats, finished fourth in 7.62.

The women’s race was equally tight and proved a rematch of last year’s race when home favourite Cindy Roleder had to settle for second behind Belarusian Alina Talay by just 0.01.

In the heats, Talay laid down the gauntlet on her local rival when she equalled Roleder’s European lead of 7.97, while the latter finished third in her heat with 8.01. In the final the pair went head-to-head and with the support of the partisan crowd behind her, European champion Roleder took the win in a season’s best of 7.95 with Talay awarded the same time in second.

The photo finish theme continued over 60m, where Cuban Yunier Perez provided a surprise victory from lane eight, defeating Dusseldorf favourite and 2015 and 2016 winner Kim Collins, with both finishing with a season’s best of 6.56.

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