Emma Coburn (left) leads the 3000m steeplechase at the IAAF Continental Cup, Marrakech 2014 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Marrakech, Morocco

Report: women's 3000m steeplechase – IAAF Continental Cup, Marrakech 2014

US record-holder Emma Coburn beat her arch rival, world leader Hiwot Ayalew, to take eight points for Americas in the first track event of day two, avenging her defeat from two months ago when the two met at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Glasgow.

On that occasion the pair ran two of the quickest times of the year, going head-to-head over a scintillating last lap. The two were left to battle it out at the end again this evening, but this time it was Coburn who finished stronger in 9:50.67, the slowest winning time at an IAAF Continental or World Cup by some margin, while the Ethiopian clipped the last hurdle as they sprinted for the line.

Ayalew clocked 9:51.59, her slowest time of the year, while Bahrain’s 17-year-old world junior champion Ruth Jebet was third for Asia-Pacific in 9:55.24.

With temperatures in the 30s, and points more important than places on the world rankings, this was never going to be a quick race. Indeed, the pace was so slow at the start it looked like the athletes were still doing their warm-up jogs.

Europe’s Sviatlana Kudzelich and Coburn took them round the pedestrian first lap as Ayalew stayed out of trouble towards the back, and Jebet tucked in behind the leaders.

Coburn is a front-runner by inclination and she took it on as they passed 1000m in 3:40.60 with Ayalew seemingly adrift at the back of a group of seven.

She was kidding no one though and, with three laps to go, she moved up to second place to put pressure on the American before Jebet made her move with 800m left, taking Ayalew and Coburn clear of the rest.

Ayalew went to the front just before the bell and Coburn gave chase, just as she had in Glasgow.

She leapt the water jump in far better shape than the African and had the edge as Ayalew stumbled coming off the last barrier and was stretchered off the track after crossing the line, but initial reports suggested that it was just a precaution and no serious damage had been done.

Matthew Brown for the IAAF