Commonwealth 800m champion Wycliffe Kinyamal staged a strong comeback to lead compatriots Timothy Cheruiyot and Nelly Jepkosgei to emphatic victories in Lausanne at the eighth leg of the Diamond League on Friday night.
After finishing eighth in Doha and sixth in Rome, Kinyamal, who has been battling a hamstring inquiry, stormed to victory in a season best one minute and 43.78 seconds in the Swiss capital.
Kinyamal, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, edged out fellow countrymen, the 2016 Series winner Ferguson Rotich and pre-race favourite Emmanuel Korir to second and third in one minute, 43.93 seconds and one minute and 44.01 seconds respectively.
Kinyamal said the victory, that is his first this season, is an inspiration ahead of the World Championship trials next month.
“This is my first Diamond League win of the season and that means a lot to me,” he said. “My objective this season is to run 1:42 and I pray to God the injuries cease.”
Korir rued the pain in one of his legs that hampered a good show. “I started the race well but I couldn’t push because I still have a problem with my leg. It will be fine at the end of next week,” said Korir, who won the 400m race to make Team Kenya for the African Games.
Cheruiyot, the World and Commonwealth 1,500m silver medallist, sealed a hat-trick of victories this season in a meet record and world lead time of three minutes, 28.77 seconds. The time was enough to erase the previous meet record of three minutes and 29.51 seconds set by Algerian Ali Saidi-Sief in 2001.
Cheruiyot looks like he will be the man to beat at the World Championships as he easily beat Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen to second place but in a personal best three minutes, 30.16 seconds with Ayanleh Souleiman from Djibouti coming in third in three minutes and 30.79 seconds.
“I am super excited about my time today. The Diamond League is extremely important to me and the competition is intense,” Cheruiyot is quoted as saying on the Diamond League website. “The World Championships is just near and I certainly want to win as many as I can especially when I am in such a great shape.”
Cheruiyot won in Stockholm in three minutes, 35.79 seconds and the Bowerman Mile at Prefontaine Classic in three minutes, 50.49 seconds before Lausanne to extend his Series lead.
Jepkosgei is slowly making her presence felt in the Diamond League and she chalked her second victory in one minute, 59.54 seconds, beating Ugandan Halimah Nakaayi to second place in one minute, 59.97 seconds. Gabriela Gajanová from Slovakia came in third in two minutes, 1.25 seconds.
“I am progressing with every race and my goal is to be selected for the Kenyan team to go to the Doha World Championships,” said Jepkosgei. “A win here in Lausanne has given me a lot of confidence and I do hope my time improves.”
Jepkosgei claimed her maiden Diamond League victory in Rabat clocking one minute, 59.5 seconds on June 16, moments after finishing fourth in Doha (one minute, 59 seconds) and third in Stockholm (two minutes, 1.98 seconds). She also settled for 10th in the 1,5000m in Shanghai.
The National Athletics Championships that will also double up as trials for the World Championships is slated for August 15-17 at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
The World Championships will run from September 28 to October 6 in Doha, Qatar.