James Magayi in Lausanne @magayijim
Kenya’s dried out run in the Lausanne IAAF Diamond League deteriorated on Thursday night as athletes withered in the heat of challenge to equal 2013 poor show in the Swiss city when none of the country’s representatives came out with victory.
Prospects were bleak heading into Lausanne as an already thin delegation from Kenya was further whittled down with Elijah Manangoi and Caleb Ndiku’s withdrawals from men 1,500m and 5,000m.
The onus then fell on 2013 women two-lap race world champion Eunice Sum to try the almost impossible and upstage Burundian power pack Francine Niyonsaba for the country’s glory as the rest of races were stocked with either rookies from Kenya or established names struggling for form.
First on the cards in 27 degrees Olympic Stadium was men 1,500m with Andrew Rotich and Elijah Kiptoo pacing for a field of 12 athletes, five being Kenyans.
A trio of Vincent Kibet, Silas Kiplagat and Diamond League debutant Charles Simotwo took single files behind Ethiopia’s Aman Wote who stuck with the pace makers ahead. Rotich led the field through a fast 400m of 56.39 leaving Kiptoo to pull the second lap in 1:53.35.
Wote then assumed control after the rabbits quit timing 2:50.59 into the last 400m. Kibet, third in rankings before the race succumbed to the heat and fell behind Simotwo and Kiplagat but held on for fourth place.
Simotwo bagged second place and in a personal best time of 3:32.59 to announce his entrance to the big stage. If Ethiopia’s Aman Wote emasculated Kenyans in men 1,500m, compatriot Genzebe Dibaba had no peers in the ensuing Non-Diamond League women mile.
Having set the world record in 3,000m at the same meeting last year, Dibaba returned to shatter Lyudmila Ragachova’s 25-year-old meeting record with a pulsating solo run that left her closest 50m behind.
Her 4:16.05 performance set the world leading time as Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei gave a galant chase, earning a personal best time of 4:26.15 and second place while at it.
Caroline Chepkemoi finished sixth in 4:27.79. Paced by Uganda’s Halima Nakayi and Jennifer Meadows of Great Britain, Dibaba showed intent early in the race, keeping close to the rabbits, before pulling 30m clear after Meadows clocked 2:06.10 for 800m.
The Ethiopian burst her lungs running alone and eventually slashed close to five seconds from Ragachova’s 1992 record. In men’s 5,000m, Muktar Edris led a Kenya less 1-5 East Africa finish in a meeting record performance of 12:55.23 as Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei ruined a would-be Ethiopian sweep by placing third behind Barega Selemon.
Collions Cheboi led through 1,000m in 2:35.53 and 2,000m in 5:11.26 then headed for early showers as second pacer Cornelius Kangogo posted 7:51.91 at 3,000m mark.
Industrious Ugandan Cheptegei then assumed control and led into the last 1,000m. Edris, the second fastest man over the distance this year behind Mo Farah then pull to Cheptegei’s shoulder, passing him as the bell tolled.
Barega forced the Ugandan wide as he squeezed in the inner lane and the two Ethiopians then fought for honours as Cheptegei tired.
Kenya’s trials winner Cyrus Rutto struggled with injuries from Paris one-week prior and flu infection, mustering 13:48.67 in a distant 11th behind Frederick Kiptoo and Sylvester Kipchirchir.
Sum was the last Kenyan to run in 2016 Athletissima. Propped against Niyonsaba, the Kenyan might have overlooked the rest of the field as she found herself third behind American Charlene Lipsey but was encouraged by a season’s best time of 1:57.78.