Africa dominated the 1,500m distance with Asbel Kiprop and Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman finishing in the top two spots during the IAAF Continental Cup in Marakech on Saturday.

Souleiman, the world Indoor Champion, had beaten Kiprop a record five times this season but their focus was on team work. They helped Africa gain more valuable points in an exciting men’s 1500m race in which world indoor champion defeated world champion Asbel Kiprop for the sixth time this year. After Europe’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen led for the first half, Souleiman then moved into the lead.

Kiprop kicked hard with half a lap remaining, but the Djiboutian athlete maintained his lead and won in 3:48.91 from Kiprop’s 3:49.10. European champion Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad was third in 3:49.53.

However, despite being one of the sensations of the winter season and breaking the world indoor record at the distance, Genzebe Dibaba had been defeated in all of her races over 3000m this summer. But she remedied that in Marrrakech by giving Africa their fourth consecutive victory in the discipline at this competition.

The first two kilometres were slow as the field jogged through 1000m in 3:09.50 and 2000m in 6:19.84. But Dibaba then took up the running and covered the final kilometre in 2:37.7 to win in 8:57.53. In second, European 5000m champion Meraf Bahta chased hard to cross the line in 8:58.48.

After winning at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels, European champion Barbora Spotakova had mentioned how she prefers competing in front of an enthusiastic crowd. She may not have had such conditions in Marrakech, but that didn’t stop her from breaking the African all-comers’ record with her third-round throw of 65.52m.

African champion Sunette Viljoen was second with 63.72m with Liz Gleadle of the Americas, the only woman to beat Spotakova this year, taking third with 61.38m.

Asia-Pacific’s only win of the day came – somewhat surprisingly – in the women’s pole vault. World leader and pre-event favourite Fabiana Murer failed to get over her opening height, leaving the way clear for Li Ling to take the win with 4.55m.

At the end of the first day, Europe leads the competition as expected with 222.5 points. Americas are second with 191 with Africa in third (164) and Asia-Pacific fourth (137.5). – IAAF

Courtesy of standardmedia.co.ke


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