Lelisa Desisa Benti beats Abera Kuma in Liège (Nadia Verhoft) © Copyright
General News Liège, Belgium

Rotich 1:43.62, Desisa Benti 27:18.17 in Liège

Liège, BelgiumAfrican distance runners delivered outstanding performances on Thursday evening 5 July at Liège. Kenyan Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich set a lifetime best in winning the 800m in 1:43.62 while Lelisa Desisa Benti was the fastest in an exciting Ethiopian 10,000m duel with Abera Kuma to finish in 27:18.17. Pamela Jelimo from Kenya tested her speed in a 600m that she won in an impressive 1:23.35.

Rotich chases fast times at 800m

Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich finished only fourth in the Kenyan Olympic 800m trials and can not compete in London later this year. But the 19-year-old Kenyan remains eager to run fast races in the upcoming weeks. Kipchirchir Rotich was the only athlete able to follow the pace set by Matt Scherer and broke away with 300m to go. With long and powerful strides the tall Kenyan drove to the finish line in 1:43.62, beating his lifetime best performance.

"This was great, I did not expect to run this fast today. My shape is very fine but I am more focused on running fast next Saturday in Heusden-Zolder. I feel ready to dive in to 1:42 territory, really !"

Behind Rotich his compatriot Rueben Bett came in second in 1:45.44.

Benti the best in unofficial Ethiopian 10,000m trial

A strong Ethiopian force, headed by World champion Ibrahim Jeilan, gathered in Liège to make an ultimate bid for a spot in the Ethiopian Olympic team. The pace was perfectly set by Yacob Yarso who stepped down after crossing the 5000m mark in 13:29. Then only Desisa Benti and Kuma followed the pace. Jeilan trailed some 50m behind and didn’t look very comfortable. Desisa Benti and Kuma worked together to maintain a steady pace. With five laps to go it started slowing down a bit but both Ethiopians were carried by the cheers of the 5000 spectators around the track. In a very spectacular final lap the two Ethiopians made it a breathtaking sprint that was finally won by Desisa Benti in 27:18.17, ahead of Kuma in 27:18.39.

Ethiopia will select the three athletes with the fastest times at 10000m on Final Entry date. The target for the Ethiopians in Liège was to run 27:03.58 or faster which did not succeed.

Jelimo on schedule to defend 800m Olympic title

Traditionally a 600m was staged in Liège and that allowed Kenyan Pamela Jelimo to test her speed a few weeks before she defends her Olympic 800m title in London. In spite of the erratic pacesetting Jelimo kept well in control of her race, withstood a comeback by Briton Marylin Okoro at the 400m mark and stormed to victory in 1.23.35.

"That is the kind of time that I wanted to run today", said the Olympic champion after her race. "I didn’t care about the fact that the opening pace was way too fast. This was a test and I wanted to see where this kind of flat out racing can bring me. Saturday I run my next 800m. Yes, there is a lot of pressure on me with the Olympics coming closer every day now. But handling the pressure is part of being a champion."

World leading 300m in 31.87 for Jonathan Borlée

The local crowd was set on fire by Jonathan Borlée. The younger of the Belgian twin brothers smashed his national record on the distance by 0.23 seconds to 31.87. After bringing down his lifetime best at 200m to 20.31 earlier this year Jonathan Borlée is confident that he will also be able to bring down his 400m PB (44.71) significantly.

"300m is rarely run, so there are not many references to assess this performance. But my twin brother Kévin and I have worked so hard this year and it is very exciting to go in to the Olympics soon."

Fine hurdling by Payne and Zagré

American David Payne fought an interesting battle with Frenchman Dimitri Bascou in the 110m Hurdles and took it in 13.38 against 13.40 for Bascou. Local Anne Zagré confirmed her consistency on the 100m Hurdles in beating an international field in 13.05. The 22 year old former European Junior champion has already qualified to compete at the London Olympic Games.

Heavy rain came pouring down on the 400m Hurdles athletes but that didn’t affect Justin Gaymon too much. The American came through to win in 49.41. Long Jumper Funmi Jimoh dropped off the US Olympic Team and won the competition in Liège with a 6.46m effort.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF

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