The first track event of day two at the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup featured an exciting clash between two steeplechasers who have been duelling all season – African Champion Milcah Chemos Cheywa and European Champion Yuliya Zarudneva.
Cheywa, representing Team Africa, held a 2-1 advantage over her Russian rival entering today’s race, but Zarudneva was keen for revenge after being pipped by Cheywa on the line at their last meeting in London.
This time World silver medallist Zarudneva left nothing to chance and led from the gun, passing 1000m in 3:10.31 and slowing slightly in the middle of the race, going through 2000m in 6:24.77. Cheywa was right behind the whole time, as was Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, winner of the final Samsung Diamond League meeting in Brussels.
As the bell rang, Zarudneva kicked on again. Cheywa was still nearby and looked to be closing the gap as they approached the final hurdle. But Zarudneva’s superior hurdling ability gave her an edge and she sprinted towards the finish line, stopping the clock in 9:25.46, a Competition Record. Cheywa finished in 9:25.84, also under the previous record, while Assefa was a few seconds behind in third (9:29.53).
Underlining Africa’s strength in this event Morocco’s Hanane Ouhaddou made it three Team Africa representatives in the top four, setting a season’s best of 9:39.39 in fourth. She was followed by USA’s Lisa Aguilera (9:41.48), Jamaica’s Korene Hinds (9:45.08) and Great Britain’s Hatti Dean (9:45.36).
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF