Kirwa and Asbel sparkle at Rome Golden Gala

Published on 12/07/2009

By Mutwiri Mutuota and IAAF

Olympic 1,500m champion elect Asbel Kiprop and world 800m title holder Alfred Kirwa resoundingly won their specialities at Friday night’s Roman Golden Gala.

Concurrently, world 800m women champion, Janeth Jepkosgei, did little to reassure mounting concerns on her poor form ahead of her title defence in August after slumping to sixth.

The same meeting saw yet another Kenyan challenge to halt Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele’s pursuit of the IAAF $1m (Sh75m) Golden League (GL) series falter in the men’s 5,000m despite the best efforts of Mark Kiptoo and Leonard Komon who dipped under 13 minutes.

Sizzling classic mile talent Kiprop received a belated 20th birthday gift in the week after news filtered through Rashid Ramzi, the man who beat him to gold in Beijing, b-sample had tested positive for CERA a new variant of blood booster EPO.

In Rome on a clear night, the lanky athlete emphatically responded to the reports by tearing away from the field after second rabbit Vickson Polonet left the race to win in his personal best of 3:31.20.

Having failed his aim to run under 3:30, a disappointed Kiprop, who is shaping up to be a showman on the track, shook his head while wagging his finger in disagreement as he launched muted celebrations.

Behind him, Morocco’s rising star, Amine Laalou, who with 50m to go had almost caught up with the winner, raced 3:51.56 for second.

Young William Biwott sealed third in 3:31.70 while Africa silver medallist, Gideon Gathimba (3:36.82) had a nightmare run, propping up the field in 13th.

Slow down

Well paced by 400m Olympic finalist, Vincent Mumo, Kirwa charged away from competition with 300m to go before claiming the men’s 800m in 1:45.23 as the field slowed down towards the end.

Olympic semi-finalist, Boaz Lalang’s (1:46.25) indifferent form persisted with a fifth finish where Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Al-Salhi (1:45.61) and Algerian Nadjim Manseur (1:45.64) filled the rostrum.

In the women’s race, Jepkosgei was in contention for the podium at the last bend but badly faded in the last 50m as American Maggie Vessey (2:00.13) claimed top honours with a sustained kick.

The Olympic silver medallist clocked a season’s best of 2:01.39 for sixth. Earlier in the week, Jepkosgei timed 2:03.63 for fifth at the Athletissima in Lausanne.

Kiptoo (12:57.62) and Komon (12:58.24) ran commendable career bests in the men’s 5,000m to finish second and third where double Olympic champion Bekele clinched victory in a world leading 12:56.23 to claim his third GL win on the trot.

Kiptoo told IAAF. “I respect Bekele, he has done a great job, and he is somebody whom we admire, but still I am struggling so that one day I will beat him.”

All Africa Games champion, Ruth Bosibori followed up her victory in Oslo last weekend with a strong third finish in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase to underline her medal credentials for Berlin.

Season’s best

The main Kenyan hope for Berlin in the absence of Olympic silver winner, Eunice Jepkorir, clocked a season’s best of 9:17.85 to chase Olympic Gulnara-Galkina Samitova (9:11.58) and world Yekaterina Volkova (9:17.40) champions across the line.

Record holder Galkina ran solo race for top honours in a world leading time.



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