Isiah Koech, still only 20, added his name to an illustrious list of 5000m champions at the IAAF World and Continental Cup, none more so than Morocco’s own hero Said Aouita, who won this event at the World Cup in 1989.
Aouita held off two Europeans to win 25 years ago, but tonight Koech was faced with a dogged New Zealander as Zane Robertson chased him home to add a Continental Cup silver to the Commonwealth Games bronze he won behind Koech in Glasgow earlier this summer.
Koech’s fellow African Nguse Amlosom from Eritrea was third, leaving the field’s fastest man, Bahrain’s Albert Rop representing Asia-Pacific, fourth.
It came down to a last-lap sprint between these four, but in the end it was a consummate victory for Koech, a former world youth champion, who controlled most of the race before outkicking Robertson to win in 13:26.86.
Koech led six of the eight starters through 1000m in 2:44.70 and then 2000m in 5:34.60 before Rop took on the front-running duties as they hit 3000m in 8:17.32, with France’s Bouabdellah Tahri and Robertson close behind.
The Kenyan moved to the lead again with three laps to go, as Turkey’s Ali Kaya began to struggle at the back of the pack.
Robertson made his move 800 metres out, dragging the two Africans and Rop away from the two Europeans.
Koech struck as they heard the bell, but Robertson hung on gamely down the back straight, keeping the gap to five metres.
The Kenyan kicked again 200 metres out, and this time it was decisive.
Robertson split the Africans to take seven valuable points for his side in 13:29.27 as Amlosom ran 13:31.31, a personal best by default, given it was his first ever 5000m.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF