Although they were never expected to be in the hunt for overall victory at the IAAF Continental Cup, Africa got off to a good start on the first day of action in Marrakech on Saturday.

Kenyan athletes, making part of the Africa team, started well with World 800m Champion Eunice Sum and Isaiah Kiplangat (5,000m) clinching gold in their specialties. Asbel Kiprop, had to settle for silver in the 1,500m distance behind Djibouti’s team mate Ayanleh Souleiman as Genzebe Dibaba reigned supreme in the 3,000m flat.

It was clear though that she was determined to finish her season on a high. Asia Pacific’s Tintu Luka of India led through the bell in a brisk 57.91 before Sum hit the front with 250 metres to go, only for America’s Ajee Wilson to pass her at the 200m mark. Sum was not to be outdone.

She surged past the former world junior champion 80 metres from the line, claiming maximum points for Africa in 1:58.21. Wilson was second in 2:00.07 with Belarus’ European champion Marina Arzamasova taking third place ahead of Africa’s Tigist Assefa and a clearly race-weary Sharp.

NO panicking

“It has been a season full of winning,” said Sum. “This time it is not for my country but for the whole continent. It is a big achievement for me. I didn’t panic when Ajee went past me.”

Returning to the stadium in which he won the African title last month, Commonwealth champion Cornel Fredericks made good use of his strong finish in the 400m hurdles to overtake Javier Culson on the home straight, winning in 48.34. It was Africa’s first win in this event since 1998, the last time the competition was held in Africa.

The host nation’s strong results continued with Mostafa Al-Gamel finishing a better-than-expected second in the hammer, throwing 78.89m to place just 10 centimetres behind Olympic champion Krisztian Pars with world champion Pawel Fajdek in third with 78.05m.

Koech’s victory

Africa then secured two of the top three places in the men’s 5000m as Isiah Koech sprinted away to win in 13:26.86 with team-mate Nguse Amlosom in third, 13:31.31. Zane Robertson of Asia-Pacific finished in between the two in second place, clocking 13:29.27.

But despite their early exuberance, the might of Europe and the Americas eventually showed.

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