Emmanuel Wanyonyi wins the 800m at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi (© Sila Kiplagat)
World leads were set, meeting records fell and some major upsets happened at the Kip Keino Classic, this season's third World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, in Nairobi on Saturday (13).
Rising stars surprised their more experienced rivals in the men's distance races, with Kenya's Emmanuel Wanyonyi and Reynold Cheruiyot among the winners.
Wanyonyi, who won a world U20 title on the same track in 2021, made the stadium errupt after he won a battle with Wycliffe Kinyamal in the men's 800m, clocking a world-leading PB of 1:43.32 that also improved the meeting record by more than a second. Kinyamal was second in 1:43.66, while 2019 world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot finished third in 1:44.99.
In the men's 1500m, world U20 champion Reynold Cheruiyot ran a world-leading 3:32.01 – at altitude – to upset Abel Kipsang, the world indoor bronze medallist and African champion, who finished second in 3:32.70. Vincent Keter ran 3:36.92 for third.
Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot celebrates his 1500m win at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi (© Sila Kiplagat)
Amos Kirui won the men's 3000m steeplechase in 8:18.45 ahead of Abraham Kibiwott in 8:19.71 and Leornard Bett in 8:20.02.
To warm up the already warm track on a sunny afternoon was an exciting climax to the men's 10,000m that was won by Daniel Ebenyo. Edwin Seko saw Ebenyo stretching the gap with four laps to go. The two broke away from the rest of the field and appeared to communicate before the latter suddenly surged forward. Ebenyo won in 28:09.93 and Seko was second in 28:30.05 as he managed to hold off a strong-finishing Stanley Njihia who was third in 28:30.61.
Six women were together at the bell in the women's 5000m. With 200m to go, Kenya's world cross country champion and world 5000m silver medallist Beatrice Chebet sprinted to the finish line to win in 15:15.85 ahead of Margaret Chelimo and Judith Kiyeng.
"It was my first race this season, and I'm longing for a better year because I was here to test my speed and endurance," said Chebet, who also claimed Commonwealth Games and Diamond League titles in 2022. "I believe with many races ahead, I shall be able to shape up my season."
Another home win was secured by world bronze medallist Mary Moraa, the 2022 Diamond League winner and Commonwealth Games champion. The last 150m turned into a battle between Moraa and Netsanet Desta of Ethiopia, as the pair broke away from the rest of the field, but Moraa pulled clear with 50m to go to win in 1:58.83.
She danced to the crowds; not so much because she had just run the World Championships qualifying time as she was already qualified courtesy of being the Diamond League champion, but the dance was probably in response to the cheers from the fans.
Desta came second in 2:00.14, while Vivian Chebet Kiprotich was third in a PB of 2:00.54.
Within the first 1000m of the women's 3000m steeplechase, Kenya's world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech had already left a single file of runners behind her and world U20 champion Faith Cherotich followed in hot pursuit. The gap between the two stretched, then shrunk, but the order remained the same as Chepkoech crossed the finish line in 9:13.51 and Cherotich followed in 9:15.08, one place ahead of Commonwealth Games champion Jackline Chepkoech in 9:25.63.
During the pre-event press conference, world indoor champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh of Ukraine promised to jump two meters, and she managed it to set a world lead and win the women's high jump event. Mahuchikh has now cleared a bar at two metres or higher 36 times in her career so far.
Laura Zialor of Great Britain finished second with 1.90m, with another Ukrainian athlete, Kateryna Tabashnyk, jumping 1.86m to finish third.
Upsets began with the men's javelin throw when Timothy Herman of Belgium threw a national record of 87.35m to win the event. A big PB, it improved his previous best of 80.48m set in 2019. Two-time world champion Anderson Peters from Grenada threw 85.72m to finish second, while Egyptian Ihab Abdelrahman, the winner of last year's event, finished third with a throw of 81.04m. Home favourite Julius Yego threw 77.24m to finish fifth.
"The Kenyan people are crazy, and I'm impressed. I will definitely come back next year," said Herman, who was in Nairobi for the second time after competing at the 2021 edition, when he threw 77.73m to finish third. "I didn't expect to win here today, but I'm excited, and this was due to good preparations. I still have some more throws ahead of the World Championships, where I'm eyeing a title."
Javelin winner Timothy Herman at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi (© Sila Kiplagat)
Wojciech Nowicki of Poland started his journey towards his desire to win the only gold medal missing from his cabinet – the World Championships title – after he threw a world lead of 79.78m in the men's hammer throw. Ethan Katzberg of Canada took second place with 76.38m, while Donat Varga of Hungary finished third with 74.12m.
Janee Kassanavoid's first throw of 74.25m gave her the win in the women's hammer as she finished ahead of her US compatriot Janeah Stewart. Stewart's second throw of 71.43m put her ahead of Poland's world record-holder Anita Wlodarczyk – contesting her first competition since last June following injury – who ended up third with a 70.27m throw.
In the sprints, USA's Twanisha Terry ran a wind-assisted 10.86 (2.5m/s) to win the women's 100m, while Zoe Hobbs of New Zealand finished second in 10.97. Belgium's Rani Rosius was third in 11.08.
Sha'Carri Richardson produced a spectacular show in the women's 200m, leading her compatriots in a US top three with a meeting record run of 22.07 (1.7m/s). Kyra Jefferson finished second in 22.77, with Shannon Ray running a personal best of 22.82 in third.
Canada's Aaron Brown prevented another US win in the men's 200m as he won in 20.12 ahead of Kyree King in 20.18 and Liberia's Joseph Fahnbulleh in 20.19.
Zambia's world leader Muzala Samukonga ran a meeting record of 44.25 to win the men's 400m. USA's Vernon Norwood finished second in 44.68, with France's Gilles Biron narrowly missing the World Championships qualification time but getting rewarded with a personal best of 45.52 in third.
Muzala Samukonga wins the 400m at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi (© Sila Kiplagat)
The event's climax was the men's 100m as Ferdinand Omanyala delighted the home crowd – who were already up on their feet minutes before the gun went off – by running a world-leading 9.84 (-0.5m/s). USA's Kenny Bednarek ran 9.98 to finish second ahead of his compatriot Marvin Bracy-Williams, who clocked 10.03.
Justin Lagat for World Athletics