Kenyan stars Asbel Kiprop, Milkah Chemos and Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba were among the big winners at the opening Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday night.
Kiprop won the men’s 800m, Chemos maintained her steeplechase form while Chepseba was top in the 1,500m but Edwin Soi and Eliud Kipchoge, among other Kenyan aces, failed to upstage Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew in the 3,000m.
Olympic 1,500m champion Kiprop showed his versatility by storming to victory in the 800m in 1:44.74 ahead of Briton Michael Rimmer and compatriot Alfred Yego, the 2007 world champion.
In the absence through injury of world record holder David Rudisha and Sudan’s two-time world indoor champion Abubaker Kaki, Kiprop was in control of the race from start to finish.
“If Rudisha and Kaki were in the same race, I’m sure I could have run faster,” said Kiprop.
Allyson Felix also got her outdoor season off to the perfect start as she raced to victory in the 400m. The triple world 200m champion was happy with her outing as she trains towards possibly attempting a 200-400m double at the August 27-September 4 World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Felix held off a spirited comeback from Botswana’s Amantle Montsho down the home stretch to coast to the win in a world lead of 50.33sec.
“It’s a decent time, nothing special,” said the Los Angeles native. “We went out very conservatively in the first 200m because it was windy. That made us work hard and Montsho is always strong and she pushed all the way to the end.”
Felix, winning in Doha for the 10th time in recent years, added: “It is a very long season so I just want to take things slowly and progress. There’s lots more work to do.”
There was no such dream start to the outdoor season, however, for Felix’s team-mate Lolo Jones, for whom a bout of debilitating sciatica put paid to her indoor season. Jones, the two-time world indoor champion, had to be happy with third in the 100m hurdles (12.67sec) behind compatriots Kellie Wells (12.58) and Danielle Carruthers (12.64).
Lavillenie fails to impress
Even worse was to come for Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, who failed to progress beyond 5.50m in the men’s pole vault, far off the French record of 6.03m he set when winning European indoor gold in Paris in March.
The event was eventually won by Germany’s Malte Mohr (5.81m), who claimed silver when Doha hosted the World Indoor Championships in March 2010.
France’s Teddy Tamgho dominated the triple jump, winning easily with a best leap of 17.49m ahead of Leevan Sands of the Bahamas and Cuban Alexis Copello.
With the Kingston International Invitational meet scheduled for Saturday, the lead US and Jamaican sprinters opted to compete there, and organisers here eventually decided late on to scrap the men’s 100m.
Walter Dix, who won double Olympic bronze in Beijing, was one American sprinter to make the trip to Doha and he won the 200m comfortably in 20.06sec.
In field events, Estonia’s world and Olympic champion Gerd Kanter left it late in the men’s discus, managing a best of 67.49m on his final attempt to trump 39-year-old Lithuanian rival Virgilijus Alekna (65.92).(AFP)