NAIROBI, Kenya- Former World Youth and African women 3000m-steeplechase champion, Norah Jeruto soared to victory in an incident packed Oslo Diamond League Meeting in Norway on Thursday night.
Fellow Kenyans, Worlds men 1500m silver medallist, Elijah Manangoi and women 800m Olympics bronze medallist, Margaret Nyairera were forced to accept minor podium places in their events won by Britain’s Jake Wightman and Rio 2016 gold medallist, Caster Semenya of South Africa.
The fifth stop of the Diamond League saw Jeruto take the honours in the water and barriers race in 9:17.27 after uncorking a storming finish to prevail over Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa (9:21.65) who came second with Fabienne Schlumpf (9:21.65) of Switzerland rounding the podium.
Another Kenyan, Purity Cherotich Kirui (9:25.82) towed the rest of the competitors home in fourth as Jeruto who won the World Youth (Under 18) title in 2001 celebrated her first Diamond League victory of the season.
The 21 year-old hopeful for London 2017 Worlds ran a lifetime best of 9:15:35 at the opening leg in Shanghai (May 13) for fourth then facing a formidable star-studded field that had Olympics champion and record holder, Ruth Jebet of Bahrain and Kenyan world champion Hyvin Kiyeng.
Manangoi who brought a 3:29.67 lifetime best to Oslo, was put in the shade by Wightman, who shed more than a second off his career best of 3:35.49 after the Briton took the race on the back of a strong finish in the back straight that stopped the clock at 3:34.17.
The Kenyan Beijing 2015 World silver winner caught the bouquet in 3:34.30 and the hugely experienced Polish athlete Marcin Lewandowski placed third in a personal best of 3:34.60.
Wightman savoured his memorable night as the son of successful international marathon runners Susan Tooby and Geoff Wightman, who is also his coach, announced his arrival to boost the hopes of Team GB ahead of the London 2017 Worlds in August.
After storming to the lead, former World Junior champion and Rio bronze winner Nyairera saw familiar rivals out pace her for the victory as she repeated her position from the Olympics final last year in the women two-lap race.
As the women’s 800m field entered the final straight it looked, for a moment, as if Francine Niyonsaba was going to achieve a rare victory over the athlete who beat her to Olympic gold in Rio last summer, South Africa’s Semenya.
The Burundi athlete, her white singlet blustering, showed the strain on her face as she pushed for home. Behind her, and then alongside her, and then in front of her, the face of the Olympic and world champion was impassive as she maintained her now customary dominance of the two-lap event, winning in 1:57.79.
Niyonsaba was second in a season’s best of 1:58.18, with early leader Nyairera came home in 1:59.17, thus replicating exactly the Rio medal standings.
-Material from the IAAF used to compile this report