By Gilbert Wandera and IAAF
|Vivian Cheruiyot, Pamela Jelimo, and Paul Kipsiele Koech among other Diamond Trophy winners in Brussels.|
Four Kenyan athletes won the Diamond League trophy in the final leg of the series on Friday night in Brussels.
Double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, former Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo, World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat and Paul Kipsiele Koech were all winners in their respective categories and took with them Sh3.2million prize money.
Jelimo and Koech were overall winners despite failing to win their final races on Friday night as they had built an unassailable lead prior to the Brussels meeting. The Diamond League series involves 14-leg meetings in Asia, Europe and USA.
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Burundian teenager Francine Niyonsaba who took down an impressive field with strong and stubborn front-running style won the women 800m race.
Niyonsaba carried a hefty through the bell (57.03) over both Pamela Jelimo and Olympic champion Mariya Savinova, and forged onward down the back straight. Jelimo made serious headway into the lead down the backstretch but the Burundian was relentless.
Every move for the lead Jelimo made was countered by Niyonsaba until she finally found herself running the final 50 metres alone to take a big 1:56.59 win, another national record.
Jelimo was content with second in 1:57.24 to improve her series lead to 16 points and claim the Diamond Trophy.
The men’s 1,500m was an entertaining affair with a strong Kenyan contingent seeking revenge for their medal-less performance in London.
World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat won in the last 50m in 3:31.98 after withstanding a strong challenge from Ethiopian Mekonnen Gebremehdin.
The victory gave Kiplagat the Diamond Trophy with 16 points, two ahead of Asbel Kiprop who, after missing two weeks of training, finished fifth in Brussels.
Kenyan Bethwell Birgen (3:32.24) and Matt Centrowitz Jr (3:32.47) of the USA were third and fourth respectively.
In the 5,000m, Vivian Cheruiyot powered away from the field over the final 300 metres to win both the race on the track and the one for the Diamond trophy.
The World champion clocked 14:46.01, more than a second clear of Mercy Cherono (14:47.18) to tally 18 points in the Diamond Race, just two better than Cherono.
This was the third straight Diamond Trophy victory for Cheruiyot, who raced to Olympic 5,000m silver and 10,000m bronze in London.
Kipsiele Koech started the 3,000m steeplechase with an insurmountable 11-point lead but there was a point to prove for Brimin Kipruto, the 2008 Olympic champion who fell in the Olympic final.
Here the 27-year-old ran confidently en route to an 8:03.11 victory, comfortably ahead of his 19-year-old namesake Conseslus Kipruto the reigning World youth and junior champion, who clocked 8:03.49.
Koech, who also won the first two Diamond Races in the event, was third in 8:04.01. Koech said that this rare defeat doesn’t signal that he’s ready to hang up his spikes just yet.
“I’m looking forward to winning it for the fourth time next year!” the 30-year-old told IAAF. Emmanuel Kipkemei Bett wound up a fine evening for the Kenyans with victory in the 10,000m.