Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto posted the fastest time of the season (8:01.41) in the men’s 3000m steeplechase during the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday night.

The race produced the expected rivalry between the two young Kenyans who have dominated the Diamond Race in their event in the last three seasons—Kipruto and Jairus Birech—but with an unexpected and bruising twist.

It was a two-man race from just after the first kilometre, but as the pair negotiated the second hurdle on the final lap, it became a one-man race as Birech fell.

Kipruto, at whose shoulder he had been running, went on unencumbered to victory in 8:01.41, the last of four 2016 world-leading marks set on the night.

There was some rueful shaking of heads at the end as Birech, who had quickly picked himself up from the infield and resumed running, came home second in 8:11.39. “Despite the win, I am very, very disappointed,” said Kipruto. “I wanted to run under 7.57. I tried to push it too hard and it did not work.”

Kenya’s 2013 world silver medallist Mercy Cherono registered a personal best of 14:33.95 in the women’s 5,000m to place second behind Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana. Cherono’s compatriot Viola Kibiwot was third in 14:34.39.

Ayana missed out on the women’s world 5000m record by just over five seconds at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat two weeks ago and came, agonisingly, even closer in Rome as she stopped the clock at 14:12.59, just 1.44 off the mark set by her Ethiopian compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba eight years ago.

However, the mark turned out to be I an IAAF Diamond League record; a meeting record at the Italian one-day showpiece, the fastest time run this year and the second fastest time ever run. But, despite her dazed smile in the aftermath of achieving all those accolades, it wasn’t what Ayana wanted.

As the last pacemaker dropped away with seven laps remaining, Ayana was in a race of her own, more than half-a-lap clear. She was running easily, no strain showing on her face, and passed 3000m in 8:30.43. The laps clicked down, and it seemed the world champion was on the brink of reaching the prize she has sought all season. With three laps left, she clocked 10:48.8. With two left, the time was 11.58.00. An increase in speed on the penultimate lap saw her clock 13:06.5 at the bell. She needed a final lap of under 65 seconds, but couldn’t quite make it. It was a measure of Ayana’s outstanding effort that pushed Cherono to her personal best.

Caster Semenya looks an unstoppable force as she moves closer and closer to Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The South African equalled

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