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'BACK ON TRACK, KIPYEGON PREPARES TO DEFEND WORLD 1500M TITLE IN DOHA


Few athletes in global athletics can quite boast the combination of sheer success and zest for living like Faith Kipyegon. With her naturally vivacious personality coupled with her outstanding competitive record, the world and Olympic 1500m champion appears to have it made. And after giving birth to her first child, daughter Alyn, in June last year, Kipyegon’s personal life appears as on track as her professional world. Yet after 21 months away from the competitive arena, the 25-year-old has been forced to press the reset button on her career as she starts the build-up to the defence of her 1500m title at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. Suffering only three defeats in 14 finals between 2016 and 2017, the diminutive Kenyan was unquestionably the world’s leading woman at 1500m during those two seasons.
However, after climaxing her 2017 season by out-slugging Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan to the 1500m IAAF Diamond League title in Brussels, Kipyegon made the firm decision she wanted to start a family with her husband, Timothy Kitum, the 2012 Olympic 800m bronze medallist. “It was always my plan to have a baby in 2018 and take a break from the sport,” explains Kipyegon of the logical decision to do so in a non-global championship year. Kipyegon quickly fell pregnant and opted to take a complete break from running during the entire pregnancy. “I knew this was my resting time.”

BARBER AND RÖHLER IN THE SPOTLIGHT IN LUCERNE


Kelsey-Lee Barber and Thomas Röhler both clinched javelin victories with the final throws of their competitions at the Spitzen Leichtathletik meeting in Lucerne on Tuesday (9). Barber, the Oceanian champion, opened with a foul but took a brief lead in round two with 61.23m, only for European champion Christin Hussong and Tatsiana Khaladovich to better it with 64.62m and 64.60m respectively. Barber threw 65.49m in round three to move into the lead, but Khaladovich responded again with 65.58m. Neither woman improved in the next two rounds, but Barber sent her spear out to a meeting record of 67.70m with her final throw, adding more than two metres to her lifetime best. Khaladovich, the 2016 European champion, also saved her best for last, but her 66.18m wasn’t enough to catch the Australian. Olympic champion Sara Kolak was fourth with 64.35m. “That’s incredible!” said Barber, who moves to 12th on the world all-time list and second on the Oceanian all-time list. “What a wonderful place for throwing events.”
Lucerne has been something of a good luck charm for javelin throwers in recent years. Katharina Molitor set a meeting record in 2015 and went on to win the world title later that year. Similarly, Johannes Vetter won in Lucerne with a meeting record in 2017 and won the world title a few weeks later. The drama of the women’s contest was reflected in the men’s event as Röhler, the Olympic and European champion, moved into the lead with his final throw, his 86.51m surpassing Andreas Hofmann’s opening throw of 84.71m. Hofmann, the Diamond League champion, improved in the final round but his 86.45m effort was six centimetres shy of his fellow German. “I am super glad,” said Röhler. “It’s always super special to compete in Lucerne. It’s great for athletes and spectators to have such a great level of competition. Growing up in Germany has made us very competitive. This makes javelin so interesting at the moment.” Headwinds and cool temperatures meant conditions weren’t conducive to fast times in the sprints and hurdles, but the races were nonetheless exciting.
Germany’s European silver medallist Gina Lückenkemper out-dipped Natalliah Whyte in a close women’s 100m. Both were timed at 11.20 (-1.0m/s) with Lückenkemper being given the verdict. Germany’s Tatjana Pinto took third place with 11.21. “Lucerne is a good venue for me,” said Lückenkemper. “I was tired but my body was ready to compete and I showed it today. I am looking forward to the World Championships but first I am planning to compete at the London Diamond League meeting and at the German Championships in Berlin.” World and Olympic finalist Akani Simbine won the men’s 100m in 10.06 (-0.3m/s) ahead of European record-holder Jimmy Vicaut (10.11) and Arthur Cissé (10.12). Tynia Gaither from The Bahamas sprinted to a 22.69 (-0.7m/s) victory in the women’s 200m ahead of Crystal Emmanuel of Canada (22.90) and world indoor 60m bronze medallist Mujinga Kambundji (22.90).

TWELL AND CRIPPA TAKE EUROPEAN 10,000M CUP TITLES


Britain’s Steph Twell overhauled European champion Lonah Chemtai Salpeter to win the European 10,000m Cup in London on Saturday (6) while Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa timed his finish well to win the men’s race. Held as part of the Night of the 10,000m PBs event at the Parliament Hill track, hundreds of spectators flocked to north-west London to enjoy the festival-like atmosphere where they filled the outer lanes of the track. In the women’s race, defending champion Salpeter set off at a fast past and had soon built up a significant lead, passing through 3000m in 9:18, some seven seconds ahead of a chase pack that included Twell, Eilish McColgan, Liv Westphal of France and Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack. Salpeter maintained that advantage through half way, reached in 15:37.26, while McCormack and Westphal started to drift off the pack of the chase pack. Cheered on by the home supporters, Twell and McColgan gradually began to eat away at Salpeter’s advantage and closed in on the Israeli distance runner with each passing lap. McColgan was unable to stick with Twell, the 2016 European 5000m bronze medallist, who caught up with Salpeter with four laps remaining. She stayed on the shoulder of the long-time leader for a few more minutes but then hit the front with 500 metres remaining. Salpeter had no response to Twell as the 29-year-old moved up a gear for the final lap, eventually crossing the finish line in a huge PB of 31:08.13. Salpeter finished second in a national record of 31:15.78, while a fast-finishing McColgan placed third in 31:16.76. As Twell was competing as a guest in the race, Salpeter claimed first place in the European Cup standings. All three women were comfortably inside the qualifying standards for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
In the men’s race, paced by Dawit Wolde, Crippa was always prominent in the lead pack. The pace slipped outside the required schedule for the World Championships qualifying mark as the leaders went through the half-way point in 14:02.80. Once the pacemakers had dropped out, Belgium’s Soufiane Bouchikhi took a turn at the front with Crippa, Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen, Germany’s Amanal Petros and Britain’s Ben Connor close behind. Crippa soon returned to the front, though, and upped the pace going into the final kilometre. Petros was the only athlete to stick with Crippa and the German even moved into the lead on the final lap, but Crippa stuck close to him and kicked ahead in the closing stages to take the win in 27:49.79. Petros finished second in a PB of 27:52.25 with Connor taking third in 27:57.60, also a PB.

GEBRHIWET AND GIDEY TAKE 10,000M TITLES AT ETHIOPIAN TRIALS IN HENGELO


Twelve days after his lap-counting error in the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, Hagos Gebrhiwet made no mistakes in Hengelo on Wednesday (17), winning the men’s 10,000m in a world-leading 26:48.95. The races doubled as the official Ethiopian trial races for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. And, based on tonight's results, Ethiopia will field two strong trios for the men's and women's 10,000m in Doha. In a race of staggering quality – the best ever in terms of depth for one nation – the top six men finished inside 27 minutes with the first three finishing inside 26:50. The women’s 10,000m, won by Letesenbet Gidey, was of a similarly high standard with the first 10 women – nine of whom are from Ethiopia – finishing inside 31:00. On a still night with temperatures around 19C, the men’s race set off at a steady pace with the first 2000m covered in 5:25 and 3000m reached in 8:07. The large lead pack of about 14 men was strung out but all appeared to be running comfortably. After passing through half way in 13:31 – just outside 27-minute pace for the full distance – Kenya’s Vincent Kiprotich Kibet moved into the lead, tracked by Ethiopia’s Andamlak Belihu, Guye Adola and Abadi Hadis. Belihu and Kiprotich were still at the front through 6000m while Yomif Kejelcha was positioned near the back of the lead pack. Hadis then took a turn at the front and, followed by Jemal Yimer Mekonnen, pushed the pace.
Eight men remained in the leading pack with 2000m remaining as Hadis still led while Kejelcha was still ominously biding his time. Selemon Barega and Gebrhiwet moved closer to Hadis with three laps to go, then Belihu hit the front of the pack – now down to six men – with 800 metres remaining. Kejelcha finally made his move at the bell and started his 400-metre kick for home. Barega and Gebrhiwet went with him and moved past him with half a lap remaining. Barega and Gebrhiwet kicked hard down the final straight but Gebrhiwet proved to be the stronger in the closing stages, winning in 26:48.95. Barega, competing in just his second 10,000m race, finished second in 26:49.46, moving to second on the world U20 all-time list. Kejelcha was third in 26:49.99, the second-fastest debut 10,000m in history behind Eliud Kipchoge’s 26:49.02. Belihu (26:53.15), Mekonnen (26:54.39) and Hadis (26:56.46) were next to finish. In ninth place, Julien Wanders broke his own Swiss record with 27:17.29, moving to seventh on the European all-time list. Like the top finishers in the men’s race, Gidey bided her time in the women’s contest before making a move in the final kilometre. World half marathon champion Netsanet Gudeta and 2015 world 5000m silver medallist Senbere Teferi did most of the leading, taking the field through 3000m in 9:18 before reaching half way in 15:30.69.

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