Africa’s finest athletic talents were put up memorable performances at at Tuesday’s Golden Spike meet in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Reigning Olympic women’s 1500 metres champion Faith Chepng’etich Kipyegon earned her third straight victory since the restart after she won the 1,500 metres race in 3min 59.05secs. The time, which was also a meet record, means Chepng’etich is now the second woman this year to go under four minutes. Great Britain’s Laura Weightman was second in 4mi 01:96secs with Jeema Reekie of the Netherlands coming third in 4min 03:25secs.
Kipyegon went to the front early in this one but hung slightly off the pacers, who led through 400 in 63.71. Brit Laura Weightman established position on Kipyegon’s shoulder early, and little would change up front before the bell, with the exception of Jemma Reekie, who moved up to third behind Kipyegon and Weightman at 900.
The top three quickly separated at the bell, but on the back straight, Kipyegon showed she was in a league of her own, pulling away with incredible grace and power. Reekie, chasing a personal best, passed Weightman into second, but couldn’t hold it; Weightman passed her back off the final turn and held on for second in 4:01.96. But the day belonged to Kipyegon, who used a quick final lap (59.0, 28.9 final 200) to run 3:59.05 — the second fastest time in the world this year, behind only Laura Muir’s 3:57.86 in Stockholm.
Even though Kipyegon was the 2016 Olympic and 2017 world champion, she entered 2020 in the shadow of Sifan Hassan. She has done her best to step out of that shadow with some stellar performances on the track this year.
There was more drama in the men’s 5000m after 19-year-old Jacob Kilpimo of Uganda upstaged pre-race favourite, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega in stunning fashion.
The race was billed as a potential meet (12:48.81) and maybe even world record (12:35.36) attempt for 20-year-old Barega. Barega, the 5th-fastest man in history (12:43.02 pb), lived up to his end of the bargain and went out very aggressively with the two rabbits as the first 1k was covered in under 2:30. When the second rabbit stepped off just before 3k (7:41), it was pretty clear the world record wasn’t going to fall but Barega was still on pace for a good time.
But behind Barega, 19-year-old Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda was running his own race. 3.5 laps into the race, he was more than four seconds behind Barega. But at 3k, the gap hadn’t grown any larger; in fact, it had shrunk to under four seconds. With four laps remaining, Barega’s lead was down to three seconds. Just before 4k (10:18.41), Barega’s lead was gone entirely.
Kiplimo kept the pressure on and with two laps remaining he went to the lead. Barega responded and stayed right behind him until the finishing stretch. Coming off the final turn, Barega moved wide to try to pass Kiplimo and they duo gave the fans a fantastic sprint finish.
Barega pulled almost dead even with Kiplimo but in the end Kiplimo got the win in a massive pb of 12:48.63, which also was a meet record.
Kiplimo’s victory comes in less than a month after Ugandan icon Joshua Cheptegei made history by breaking a 16 year old 5000m world record with 12:35.36 at the Monaco Diamond League in August.
In the men’s 1500m, Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen cruised to victory in 3:33:92 ahead of Kenya’s Kumari Taki who clocked a personal best of 3:34:14.
It was also a tough night for Kenya’s Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal in the men’s 800m, after finishing seventh in 1:45:53 in a race won by Great Britain’s Jake Wightman in 1:44:18.
Sheila Chelagat had to content with a second place in the 5,000m behind red-hot Netherland’s Sifan Hassan. Hassan, fresh from breaking the one-hour record last weekend in Brussels, set a season’s best time of 14:37:85 while Chelagat clocked a personal best of 14:40:51.
Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango came second in the men’s triple jump behind American Christian Taylor. Zango had jumped 17.42 in round two. But Taylor bettered that with 17.46 to take both the win and world lead (17.43) away from Zango. Zango, who beat Taylor for the first time in his career a few weeks ago in Hungary, had three jumps farther than Taylor’s #2.