Sensational two-lap runner Wycliffe Kinyamal continued to astound since his big break in the April Commonwealth Games by winning the men 800m at Rome’s Golden Gala on Thursday night.
The year’s revelation in athletics came from behind for the second time in six days to pip experienced Jonathan Kitilit to a Diamond League victory, surging upfront with less than 10 metres left to clock 1:44.65.
Having trailed pacesetter Bram Som through a highly paced 51.24 opening lap, Kitilit breezed past the 600m mark in 1:18.17 and seemed to be on course for victory. A strenuous sprint in the back straight, however, left Kitilit spent and exposed as Ferguson Rotich sped from fifth at the last bend to steal second spot from Kitilit.
“I felt great, I was ready and I enjoyed this meeting. I like to say the last 100m is my strength and it was today. My target is simply to win more races.” Kinyamal acknowledged a factor that has won the last two races in the circuit.
Former 3,000m steeplechase World Champion Hyvin Kiyeng led a clean podium sweep for Kenyan women as reigning World Champion Emma Coburn of USA fell at the water barrier during the last lap.
The America who upset Kiyeng and co. in London last August bid her time behind the Kenyan and was poised to pounce after the final water barrier but lost her balance and took a tumble, letting Celliphine Chepteek Chespol and Norah Jeruto follow Kiyeng for a 1-3 Kenyan finish.
Kiyeng’s 9:04.96 winning time broke the Rome Golden gala record and set the year’s fastest time while Chespol (9:05.14) and Jeruto (9:07.17) settled for season’s best times. Commonwealth Games star Beatrice Chepkoech clocked 9:1585 to trail Coburn in fifth place.
“I feel very good about my win even more as this is my first race of the season. I had missed almost two years before that. Beating the Meeting Record and setting the world lead makes me feel good. My aims for this year are the African Championships and the 2018 Diamond Trophy,” Kiyeng said.
Men’s steeplechase king Conseslus Kipruto returned to winning ways in a world leading time after two upsets this season.
“I am happy I won and the time too was important. A world lead is good. I wasn’t impressed after Shanghai and Eugene so that helped me wake up.
Today, I was ready and I used my experience here and I know I can run faster. Now I have four weeks to focus on training before attempting the world record in Monaco. I will put my effort in there. I am ready for it,” the Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games champion said.
World Silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot upset the World Champion Elijah Manangoi in the men’s non-Diamond League 1,500m at the Olympic Stadium.