Kwemoi leads Kenyan sweep, Kipyegon triumphs at Pre Classic

EUGENE, OR - MAY 27: Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya celebrates winning the Bowerman Mile during the 2017 ...
EUGENE, OR - MAY 27: Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya celebrates winning the Bowerman Mile during the 2017 Prefontaine Classic Diamond League at Hayward Field on May 27, 2017 in Eugene, Oregon. Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images/AFP

Ronald Kwemoi led a Kenyan 1-2-3 in the Bowerman Mile in 3:49.04 – the fastest time in the world over the distance this year – as he continued his impressive IAAF Diamond League season at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, USA on Saturday.

Kwemoi, who displayed an impressive turn of speed to win the 3000m in Doha opening leg earlier this month, outpaced World 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi who clocked home second in 3:49.08 as Timothy Cheruyiot completed the Kenyan podium sweep in 3:49.64.

World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop who was launching his season after missing opener at the Qatari capital endured a disappointing title defence bid when his 3:58.24 left him last on the 13-man line-up.

Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon dominated the women’s 1500m with a 3:59.67 victory from compatriot and Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri (4:00.46) with Briton Laura Muir third in 4:00.47.

The women’s 800m meanwhile saw a virtual repeat of the 2016 Olympic final, with all three Rio medallists occupying the top three positions.

South Africa’s Olympic champion Caster Semenya won in 1:57.78, ahead of Kenya’s Margaret Wambui in 1:57.88. Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi was third with 1:59.10.

-Farah a ‘marked man’-

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah laid down a marker to his rivals with a superb 5,000m victory in 13:00.70 ahead of Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha (13:01.21) and World 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworwor (13:01.35).

Farah who is embarking on his final season of track racing, clocked the fastest time of the year after romping home in 13min 00.70sec at Eugene’s Hayward Field in Oregon.

The 34-year-old British distance running king, who completed a ‘double-double’ of 5,000m and 10,000m gold at last year’s Olympics, said he had been determined to send a message to his challengers as he builds towards his farewell at the World Championships in August.

“For me it wasn’t about time. It was just a matter of telling the boys ‘Look, I’m ready’,” Farah said.

“A lot of the boys talk a lot. I just want my running to do the talking and get on with it.”

Farah’s brilliant tactical victory was one of seven world leading performances set across a high quality day of action.

The display of the day came from US triple jump king Taylor, the two-time Olympic and world champion who recorded the third longest leap in history, 18.11m, to win a duel with compatriot Will Claye, who was second with 18.05.

Taylor, 26, is now within striking distance of Jonathan Edwards’ 1995 world record of 18.29m. Afterwards, Taylor admitted pursuit of Edwards’ record was his main motivation.

“It’s the only reason I’m here,” he said. “I’ve got two Olympic titles, two world titles, the American record, I’ve been blessed beyond belief.

“The only thing that kills me now is that I’m number two all-time. And nobody will remember number two. And that’s what’s pushing me every single day,” he added.

– Bowie blitzes 200 foes –

Arguably the most surprising result of the day came in the women’s 200m which had been billed as one of the strongest fields ever assembled.

America’s Tori Bowie, a bronze medallist over the distance at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio, blasted to victory in the quickest time of the year in 21.77sec.

Bowie led from start to finish to come home ahead of Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas in second with 21.91. Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was third with 21.98 while Dutch star Dafne Schippers was fourth in 22.30. Allyson Felix, the 2012 200m Olympic champion, was fifth in 22.33.

Elsewhere Saturday, Jamaica’s 110m hurdles star Omar McLeod signalled once again he will be the man to beat at the World Championships after storming home in 13.01sec.

McLeod, the Olympic champion, crossed ahead of compatriot Ronald Levy, who was second in 13.10 and Devon Allen of the United States who was third with 13.11.

“I was feeling good, my race wasn’t as sharp but I was glad I was able to get a clean run,” McLeod said.

“I’m always consistent, I’m not as sharp as I wanted to be but preparation for this year was different. I didn’t have a peak at indoors, so I think I’m going to peak at the right time which is really good.”

In the men’s 100m, American Ronnie Baker posted a brisk but wind-assisted 9.86sec to pip China’s Su Bingtian for victory. Su finished second in 9.92sec. Britain’s Chijindu Ujah was third in 9.95 while Canada’s Andre De Grasse was fourth with 9.96.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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