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Tough outing for Kenyan stars in Brussels Diamond League meet

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | September 5th 2021
Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala reacts after qualifying or Olympics semifinals. [Reuters]

Brussels Diamond League on Friday evening was not the best of the outings for Kenyan athletes.

However it was also at the same meeting that 100m sensation Ferdinand Omurwa Omanyala made his Diamond League debut and finished fourth.

There was however good news from Olympic silver medallist Ferguson Rotich who produced a stunning win in the men’s 800m, timing 1:43.81 to beat Belgium’s Eliott Crestan who clocked 1:45.24.

Athletes who had competed at the Tokyo Olympics that ended last month were in Brussels to make a statement.

Omanyala who set the 10.00 seconds national record at the Tokyo Olympics 100m semifinals before improving it to 9.96 at the Josko Laufmeeting International then to 9.86 at the same meeting in Austria lost to Olympic 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley of the USA who blasted into a 9.94 win in Brussels on Friday.

World leader Trayvon Bromell and Michael Norman also of the USA took the second and third places, sealing the American medal sweep as Omanyala came in fourth.

In the men’s 1500m, Abel Kipsang, who finished fourth in his Olympic debut, and who set a new Olympic record of 3:31.65 in the semi-finals was also in Brussels. He also came fourth at the Diamond League meet.

His compatriot Charles Simotwo who also took part at the Tokyo Games was fifth in Brussels.

The Kenyan duo lost to the winner Stewart Mcsweyn of Australia who timed 3:33.20. Mcsweyn was followed by his countryman Oliver Hoare. Polish Michal Rozmys closed the podium places.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba produced a spectacular win in the women’s 5000m, denying two-time world champion Hellen Obiri a top place in the 12.5-lap race. Niyonsaba had finished fifth over 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics.

Obiri kicked into the lead when the bell sounded for the final lap but Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye outsprinted her with 100m to go. A re-energised Niyonsaba however made a comeback to take the lead crossing the finish line in 14:25.34.

Taye took second place in 14:25.63 with Obiri claiming third in 14:26.23. World silver medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi set a PB of 14:27.12 in fourth as the top seven women finished inside 14:32 – unprecedented depth for a 5000m race.

Mary Moraa, another Kenyan Tokyo Olympian, was using the Brussels Diamond League to make a statement after switching from 400m to 800m. She however lost to big shots in the distance after finishing eighth in 1:59.79.

Jamaica’s Natoya Goule rallied with a satiating win in the race while Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie of Great Britain took the second and third places.

Newly crowned 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands set a Brussels meeting one mile record of 4:14.74.

Meanwhile world record holder Armand Duplantis won the pole vault with a leap of 6.02 metres.

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