Over a dozen world leading times and meet records fell as quality Kenyan runners dominated the season-opening Qatar Super Grand Prix in Doha on Friday evening.
Buoyed by his expected elevation to Olympic 1,500 metres champion after the winner in Beijing, Rashid Ramzi, tested positive for doping, Asbel Kiprop showed his class in register a new personal best time of one minute, 43.17 seconds in the 800m race finishing second to Sudan’s youngster Abubaker Kaki Khamis (1:43.09).
Kaki, the World Junior 800m champion, had an impressive front-running victory in the two lap race, holding off the late charging Kiprop.
In the 1,500m, a strong sprint by Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion, Augustine Choge, won him the race after he swapped the lead three times in the last 10 metres with African champion Haron Keitany before he moved on to secure the race in a personal best 3:30.88.
Keitany, who looked stronger, however, learnt an important lesson never to relax when he’s racing Choge ‘until he’s crossed the line.
The pair were running the final lap in around 52 seconds and Keitany (3:30.90) clawed five metres back in the last fifty, but then having snatched the lead, he relaxed a metre from the line and allowed Choge to nip him by 0.02 seconds.
Mohamed Moustaoui of Morocco was third in 3:33.28.
Many had written his obituary, but Athens Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi returned after a frustrating show in Beijing to win in his speciality.
Two Olympic champions - Kemboi and the holder Brimin Kipruto, who is also current World champ - add two World Junior champions, Mike Kipyego and Willy Komen, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Wesley Kiprotich, and the fastest man in the field with 7:56.37, African champion and Olympic bronze medallist, Paul Kipsiele Koech.
Such was the field in Doha.
Kemboi posted his personal best as he dipped under the eight minute barrier to clock 7:58.85. World Indoor 3,000m silver medallist, Paul Kipsiele Koech (8:01.72), was second ahead of Olympic champion Kipruto’s 8:08.71.
World 3,000m steeplechase record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen made a comeback after 18 months out in the 3000m flat race.
Running before his adopted home fans, he was fourth in 7:32.46. Olympic 5,000m silver medallist, Eliud Kipchoge, won his third 3,000m race in Doha in 7:28.37.
The wooden spoon went to surprise Beijing 1,500m winner, Nancy Lagat, who finished eighth. Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka stole the show to win in 4:06.67 ahead of Vivian Cheruyiot, the world 5,000m silver medallist (4:07.41).
Ruth Bosibori won the 3,000m steeplechase race in 9:32.68 edging out Ethiopian Zemzem Ahmed (9:33.74).