Chepng’etich cruises, Lagat stumbles to women 1500m semis
Beijing Worlds women 5000m silver medallist, Faith Cheng’etich Kipyegon safely navigated the heats on Friday night as the favourites led by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba cut their semi final tickets.
Compatriot Viola Lagat squeezed through as a fastest loser in the third and final heat despite being forced down the order to eighth in a showdown where another Ethiopian, Dawit Seyaum posted the fastest mark of the day when she won in 4:05.33.
However, it was the end of the road for the aspirations of the third Kenyan, Nancy Chepkwemoi who tumbled out of competition in an 11th finish in Heat 2.
Her country’s favourite for a medal at the event and two-time world junior champion, Chepng’etich effortlessly punched her ticket to the semis after she finished second in heat two in 4:06.65 after easing off to allow Beijing bronze medallist Sifan Hassan of Netherlands to nick her to the line in 4:06.64.
Muriel Coneo of Colombia took the lead and she crossed the 400m split in before Cheng’etich charged past her and took the field through the 800m mark in 2:15.11 as well as 1200m in 3:21.80 in the second round of the competition.
She powered on through the final curve and homestretch and only took the pedal off the gas when her place in Sunday’s semis was confirmed with Hassan keeping close attendance on her outside.
Kenya got off to a horrid start when Chepkwemoi trailed off to finish in 11th (4:15.41) despite a promising start that saw her lead in the opening lap where she ran 1:12.77 and in essence, she was just warming up the seat for Genzebe- whose elder sister Tirunesh- earlier won the bronze in the women 10000m.
World Champion Genzebe sailed easily to the semis by taking the race in 4:10.61 with Ireland’s Ciara Mageean (4:11.51) and Brenda Martinez of USA (4:11.74) following suit to round the top three.
Viola, the younger sister of Kenyan born American Osaka Worlds double distance champion, Bernard; who will be running for the Star – Spangled Banner at this Olympics, was in danger of being cut off when she could only muster 4:08.09 for eighth.
Fortunately, her race was the fastest of the night and produced all four small ‘qs’ as she won the lottery of the fastest loser entries to the final in last place.
Shannon Rowbury (USA) and Laura Muir of Great Brtain in 4:06.47 and 4:06.53 finished in second and third.
It was a bad day in the office for the men 400m trio, Alex Sampao, Raymond Kibet and Alphas Kishoiyan who exited competition at the first hurdle during the heats, underlining the shambles in preparations the short distance runners, whose expelled coach, John Anzrah, arrived home on Friday night, have gone through.
First to go through the door marked EXIT was Sampao who Sampao who ran 46.62 for seventh in the opening round before his compatriots, Kibet (46.15/fifth) and Kishoiyan (46.74/sixth) followed suit in heats 2 and 3.
Ahead of Rio, the 4x400m relay squad they were part of was told it would not take part in a bungled selection process before they were compelled top travel with the first batch of the team to Brazil.
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