Two times World bronze medallist, Milcah Chemos chalked her season’s best time in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase to register Kenya’s only victory at the Rome Diamond League on Thursday night.
Six-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt was also pipped to victory in his first 100 metre outing in Europe this season by American rival Justin Gatlin who clocked 9.94 seconds. Bolt clocked 9.95sec for second, followed by Frenchman Jimmy (10.02).
Chemos, who is also the Africa record holder and Commonwealth Games reigning champion, prevailed after speeding away at the bell from her compatriot Lidya Chepkurui.
Despite a ragged clearance at the final barrier, the 27-year-old Chemos had the speed to sprint away from her taller rival to win in 9:16.14, just a few seconds outside the meeting record and world lead for the event.
Chepkurui, the winner in Doha and New York, came in second in 9:18.10. Chepkurui won the Doha event in world leading and meet record time of 9:13.75.
Kenyans performed poorly
Kenyans fared badly in women’s 1,500m, men’s 5,000m and 800m races. World 1,500m junior champion, Faith Chepng’etich (4:05.31) was the best placed Kenyan in seventh position in the women’s metric mile race won by Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi in 4:00.23 to maintain her unbeaten record in 2013.
She also tops the Diamond Race standings 12 points after three successive wins. Viola Kibiwot (4:05.35) and 2008 Olympic champion Jebet Lagat (4:08.12) finished ninth and 12th respectively.
Kenyans, including London Olympics bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, were vanquished in men’s 800m.
Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman pulled away from the rest of the field over the final 150 metres to win in 1min, 43.61 secs. Behind him, the emerging French talent and former European junior champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, 21, who clocked a personal best of 1:43.91.
Kenyans Job Kinyor (1:44.73), World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop (1:45.54) and Kitum (1:46.31) finished fifth, ninth and 12th respectively.
IAAF World Cross-country Championships junior men’s winner Hagos Gebrhiwet took the lead at the bell in the 5000m to win in a world-leading time of 12:54.95, the first man under 13 minutes this year. His compatriot Yenew Alamirew came in second in 12:55.73 while Kenya’s Isaiah Kiplangat Koech was third in 12:58.85.
Meanwhile, the Africa Junior Championships that were set for June 27 to 31 in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been called off after South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) suspended local athletics body officials. The development has ocassioned changes in the Kenyan trials that were set for June 11 to12 at Nyayo National Stadium to select the teams for Africa Junior Championships and World Youth Championships.
Confederation of Africa Athletics vice president David Okeyo said the Kenyan trials will now only feature the selection of a team for the World Youth Championships set for July 10 to 14 in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Okeyo said the continental body will meet soon to decide which country will step in on behalf of Athletics South Africa (ASA).
Back in Rome, Bolt said he will review the key ingredients missing from his race after being pipped to victory by Gatlin.
Gatlin came into the Rome Golden Gala expected to challenge the world record holder (9.58sec) on the back of two wins in the opening two legs of the Diamond League in Doha and in Eugene. He was making his first appearance on the continent since his recent recovery from a hamstring injury.
Bolt, who will next compete in Oslo at the Bislett Games before returning to Jamaica on June 14, said he felt no twinge from his hamstring during the race but felt “a little sore” afterwards.
“I got a great start. I think I did throw myself off a little. Normally the last 50 (metres) is the best part of my race but it wasn’t there. But I’m not worried,” Bolt said.
I wanted to find out where I was at here and now I will go home and look at the tape, see where I went wrong and come out and do better next time.”