Chepng’etich sets Dibaba women 1500m final rematch


Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (R) crosses the finish line ahead of Ethiopia's Dawit Seyaum (C) ...
Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon (R) crosses the finish line ahead of Ethiopia's Dawit Seyaum (C) and USA's Shannon Rowbury after they competed in the Women's 1500m Semifinal during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 14, 2016. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

Kenya’s Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon set up a rematch with Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in the women 1500m final after the top two from last year’s IAAF World Championships coasted to Tuesday’s finals.

Running in the first heat, Chepng’etich, the two-time world junior champion and Beijing Worlds silver medallist ran 4:03.95 for victory to punch her ticket to the medal race as her compatriot, Viola Lagat, ended her interest in the competition after finishing sixth in the following semi.

American Laura Weightman ran 1:09.88 for the first 400m, to lead the women’s 1500m opening semi final before Chepng’etich moved up and forced the pace a bit.

Weightman was still ahead as they came for 800m in 2:15.6 with lots of women trying to move up on the outside and there was some jostling as they get primed for the bell.

Chepng’etich the hit the front at the bell and reached 1200m in 3:19.03 with Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum another American Shannon Rowbury and the second Ethiopian in contention, Besu Sado in hot pursuit on the homestretch.

It was 4:04.23 Seyaum, 4:04.46 Rowbury, 4:05.19 Sado and 4:05.28 for Weightman in fifth as they all qualified for the final automatically in rounding the top five as Sofia Ennaoui from Poland (4:05.29) and Rababe Arafi of Morocco (4:05.60) who took the next two places going through as the two fastest losers.

In the second race, all eyes were on Dibaba, whose elder sister Tirunesh won bronze in the women 10000m on the opening day of the track and field showdown.

Yet another American and 2011 world champion, Jennifer Simpson set out in front early in the second heat taking the athletes through 400m in 1:08.47 and 800m in 2:17.11 where she was joined by Laura Muir of Great Britain.

Hiding in the back until then, world record holder Dibaba then eased her way up toward the front with the second Kenyan in the semis, Lagat joining her as they looked around ready for a fierce last lap.

Dibaba threw it down as they approach the bell with Netherland’s Sifan Hassan gives chase along with Muir, Simpson and Canadian Nicole Sifuentes next.

At the back straight they were now fully extended as the world champion passed 1200m in 3:19.30 before powering away to win in 4:03.06, the fastest of the day.

Hassan (4:03.62), Muir (4:04.16), Simpson (4:05.07) and Sweden’s Meraf Bahta (4:06.71) who attacked from behind, charging past Lagat (4:06.83) finished in that order in the top five to qualify for the medal race.

Lagat tried all she could and was in good position to qualify until the final 80m when the Swede ended her hopes of making a first major competition final.

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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