Kenyans staged good shows at the Ooredoo Doha Meeting, the opening leg of the World Athletics Wanda Diamond League series, on Friday night.
Kenya’s world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, competing with strapping on the back of his legs, was beaten by younger compatriot Asbel Kipsang in the men’s 1500m.
The breezy conditions meant that fast times were out of the question, but it also possibly resulted in a more competitive outcome.
Once the last of the pacemakers stepped off the track, Kipsang led from Cheruiyot in the closing stages. At one point on the home straight it appeared as though Cheruiyot would kick back, but Kipsang dug in and held on for victory in 3:35.70. Cheruiyot was second in 3:36.16.
In other middle-distance events, young Kenyan Noah Kibet, the world indoor silver medallist, upstaged an experienced and high-quality 800m field to prevail in 1:49.08 from Australia’s Peter Bol (1:49.35).
Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwott led for most of the final kilometre with El Bakkali and Girma tucked in close behind. El Bakkali then hit the front on the final lap, but Ethiopia’s world and Olympic silver medallist Girma drew level with 200 metres to go.
The Moroccan had the edge at the end, though, and won by 0.01 in 8:09.66. Kibiwott was some way behind in third in 8:16.40.
The finish in the women’s 3,000m – a meet-in-the-middle clash between Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon and Diamond League 5,000m champion Francine Niyonsaba – was similarly exciting.
In a race with no pacemakers, Niyonsaba dictated the pace for most of the way, the Burundian passing through 1,000m in 2:56.1.
World 5,000m leader Girmawit Gebrzihair took a brief stint at the front, as did Kipyegon, but Niyonsaba hit the lead again with 600 metres to go. Kipyegon pulled level with Niyonsaba again with half a lap left, but Niyonsaba responded and kicked away to win in a world-leading 8:37.70.
Kipyegon was second in 8:38.05 and Australia’s Jessica Hull placed third in 8:40.97.
The date – Friday 13th – proved somewhat unlucky for the pole vaulters, whose event had to be cancelled due to the conditions and postponed until Saturday when the competition was due to be held indoors.
But others appeared almost unaffected by the stiff breeze at the Qatar Sports Club, not least Anderson Peters who prevailed in a thrilling javelin contest with a sensational 93.07m winning throw.
Returning to the city where he won the world title in 2019, the Grenadian made his intention known from the outset, opening his series with a national record of 88.96m, then following it with 87.30m and 88.51m.
Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch then took the lead in round four with a lifetime best of 89.87m, but Peters responded in the next round with 90.19m, another Grenadian record. Just moments later, Vadlejch hit back with an almighty leading 90.88m effort.
Vadlejch was up first to throw in the final round and closed out his series with an 85.50m effort. Peters then took to the runway and launched his spear high into the Doha night air.
Instead of stalling, as many high throws tend to do, it simply continued to fly before piercing the ground farther than any other attempt this evening.
The distance – 93.07m – came up on the scoreboard and Peters burst into an impromptu dance, celebrating the fact he had become the fifth-best thrower of all time, breaking the North & Central American and Caribbean record in the process.