East African stars dominate US track national meet

Wednesday July 31 2019

Lopez Lomong runs to victory in the final of the 10,00 metre during the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium on July 25, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. PHOTO | ANDY LYONS |


Interesting results were posted at last weekend’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Iowa, perhaps highlighted by Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad’s world record in the 400 metres hurdles.

Muhammad shattered Yulia Pechonkina's 16-year record by winning her specialty at the Drake Stadium in 52.20 seconds.

“I’ve been kind of hitting that time in practice consistently. I was hoping for it this whole weekend,” she told reporters.

Among the sideshows in the four-day championships was the distance running dominance by east Africa-born athletes with Lopez Lomong, who fled the war in Sudan to land in the US as a refugee, completing a 5,000m and 10,000m double.

But his victory over the shorter distance in 13 minutes, 25.53 seconds, that included a 53.35-secons final lap, was outside the qualifying standard of 13:22.50 for the IAAF World Championships to be held in Doha in September and October.

Kenya-born Paul Chelimo (13:25.80) finished second, with east Africa-born runners also dominating the 10,000m which Lomong — who spent 10 years between 1991 and 2001 at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana County — won in 27:30.06. Former Kenyans Shadrack Kipchirchir (27:47.71) and Leonard Korir (28:01.43) trailed Lomong in second and third place.


Kipchirchir, an engineer, joined the US Army’s “World Class Athlete Programme” in 2014 with Korir also taking up US citizenship in 2016 and running in the army colours.

Another Kenya-born US Army runner, Hillary Bor, won the steeplechase in 8:18.05 followed by former Kenyan compatriot Stanley Kebenei (8:19.12).

The east African dominance aside, there was an interesting match-up in the sprints with Noah Lyles beating 100m champion Christian Coleman in the 200m, winning in 19.78 with Coleman second in 20.02.

With South Africa’s Caster Semenya knocked out of the Doha championships, USA’s Ajee' Wilson will be among the frontrunners. She won the 800m title with a brilliant front-running technique in a facility record 1:57.72 with Donavan Brazier producing splits of 55.00 and 50.62 to win the men's 800m in 1:45.62. In the men's 1,500m, Craig Engels produced a 51.92 last lap to win in 3:44.93 ahead of Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz (3:44.97).

The total attendance on all days of US Championships was 30,367 fans.