Ayana, Kiprop light up final day

Ethiopia make clean sweep in women's 5000M; Kenya pip Jamaica to top medals tally

Ayana, Kiprop light up final day

Almaz Ayana scripted a magnificent victory in the 5000M and Asbel Kiprop protected his 1500M gold in commanding fashion as the 15th World Championships in athletics concluded here on Sunday.

On a night of some fabulous action, Ethiopia’s Ayana ran one of the most amazing races ever to destroy compatriot Genzebe Dibaba’s dreams of a golden double. In contrast, Kenya’s Kiprop was all swagger as he outkicked his rivals in the final straight for his third successive gold medal.

China’s quest for gold in women’s javelin and men’s high jump to sign off the championships on a high kept the home fans on the edge of their seats. Dramatic results emerged in those events, but the contests that the world was waiting for was unfolding on the track.

In the golden glow of her 1500M triumph, Dibaba might have forgotten she had a worthy rival in Ayana. How costly that lapse proved to be! Quicker and quicker Ayana went, breaking Dibaba’s desire and resolve en route to an Ethiopian sweep.

In a well-thought out strategy, Ayana, bronze medallist last time, decided that the only way to beat Dibaba was to take her on and build a big lead. After the early skirmishes, Ayana went ahead with seven laps left and Dibaba too advanced, along with Kenya’s Mercy Cherono. But the one who carries a famous surname was just not prepared for the events that followed.

Ayana kept increasing the pace, widening the gap between herself and Dibaba. With three laps to go, she had a 20M lead and Dibaba’s legs were looking heavy, after having run three races more than her compatriot here. By the time Ayana reached the bell, the result was a foregone conclusion, with Dibaba almost 80 metres behind.

Ayana maintained that relentless pace to come home in 14:26.83, breaking Tirunesh Dibaba’s championship record of 14:38.59. Dibaba, well and truly beaten, was then stunned to see Senbere Teferi sprinting past her for the silver in 14:44.07.

“It was a tough race, I had to win this gold medal, I worked really hard for it,” said Ayana, the bronze medallist last time. Her margin of victory, 17.04 seconds, was the biggest ever while this was Ethiopia’s second medal sweep in this event, after 2005 in Helsinki.

Kiprop showed the confidence of a man in complete control of his event in the 1500M. The Kenyan seemed to have left it too late as he trailed 10th at the bell. With 200 metres to go, Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi was in the lead with Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco just behind.

Kiprop then timed his charge to perfection, coming to the fore in the straight and sprinting ahead with 50 metres left for the gold in 3:34.40. Fellow Kenyan Elijah Manangoi picked up silver, leaving Iguider to make a desperate dive for the bronze in 3:34.67.

The men’s high jump had plenty of drama with three athletes – Derek Drouin of Canada, Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine and Zhang Guowei of China – tied for the top spot at 2.33 metres. In a jump-off, Drouin cleared 2.34 for the gold, leaving Bondarenko and Zhang sharing the silver. Pre-meet favourite, Mutaz Essa Barshim ended fourth on a countback, also clearing 2.33.

China had more heartbreak in javelin when Kathrina Molitor of Germany nailed the gold with her last-round throw of 67.69, a world leading effort. Lyu Huihui had raised the Chinese hopes with an Asian record of 66.13 before Molitor spoilt their fun.

United States men and Jamaican women triumphed in the 4x400 relays in thrilling finishes. The Americans won for the sixth straight time, after pegging back a strong Trinidad and Tobago challenge, thanks to the presence of LaShawn Merritt. Their women bungled, with lead-off runner Sanya Richards-Ross and anchor Francena McCorory unable to step up. In between, Allyson Felix brought them into lead but Jamaican Novelene Williams-Mills edged McCorory at the finish.

Kenya topped the medals table for the first time with seven gold, six silver and three bronze, followed by Jamaica (7-2-3) and USA (6-6-6).

Results:  Men: 1500M: Asbel Kiprop (Kenya) 3:34.40, 1; Elijah Manangoi (Kenya) 3:34.63, 2; Abdalaati Iguider (Morocco) 3:34.67, 3.

High jump: Derek Drouin (Canada) 2.33M (jump-off: 2.34) 1; Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine) 2.33, 2; Guowei Zhang (China) 2.33, 2.

4x400M relay: United States (David Verburg, Toni McQuay, Bryshon Nellum, LaShawn Merritt) 2:57.82, 1; Trinidad & Tobago 2:58.20, 2; Great Britain 2:58.51, 3.

Women: 5000M: Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) 14:26.83 (Meet record. Old: 14:38.59, Tirunesh Dibaba) 1; Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) 14:44.07, 2; Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia) 14:144.14, 3.
Javelin throw: Kathrina Molitor (Germany) 67.79 metres, 1; Lyu Huihui (China) 66.13, 2; Sunette Viljoen (South Africa) 65.79, 3.

4x400M relay: Jamaica (Christine Day, Shericka Jackson, Stephanie McPherson, Novlene Williams-Mills) 3:19.13, 1; United States 3:19.44, 2; Great Britain 3:23.62, 3.

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