A stunning men’s 4x400m relay win ended a fantastic competition for Team Africa but was not enough to wrestle the title from Europe on the final day of the 2014 IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech on Sunday.
Europe retained the Continental title with a title point haul of 447.5. Americas finished second with 390 points with Africa third (339) and Asia-Pacific fourth (257.5).
African champion Isaac Makwala from Botswana ran a storming second leg to give Africa the lead at the third exchange, with Zambia’s Saviour Kombe keeping Africa ahead until the last leg before handling over the baton to Commonwealth Games 400m silver medalist, Wayde van Niekerk, of South Africa.
The South African ran a gutsy anchor, holding off Briton Martyn Rooney, the European champion, to win in 3:00.02, just 0.08 ahead of Europe. World 400m champion LaShawn Merritt for the Americas overtook Japan’s Julian Jrummi Walsh of the Asia-Pacific to take the third spot.
African 5000m champion Caleb Ndiku won a competitive 3000m by half a second in 7:52.64. European silver medallist Hayle Ibrahimov (7:53.14) beats defending champion Bernard Lagat (7:53.95), competing 12 years after making his Continental Cup debut, to the second position.
Africa gained the maximum 15 points in the women’s 5000m. Africa’s Almaz Ayana took off after 3000m to win by the huge margin of 25 seconds, finishing in 15:33.32 ahead of teammate Joyce Chepkirui, the continental 10,000m champion, who clocked a personal best time of 15:58.31.
World leader and African champion Hiwot Ayalew had a slight lead approaching the final barrier, but clipped the last hurdle giving Americas Emma Coburn a chance to win line in 9:50.67.
Ayalew clocked 9:51.59 for second with Bahrain’s 17-year-old world junior champion Ruth Jebet third for Asia-Pacific in 9:55.24.
African champion Jairus Kipchoge Birech sprinted away from Evan Jager of the Americas to win the men’s 3000m steeplechase in 8:13.18. Jager, who led at the bell, settled for second place in 8:14.08 ahead of Asia-Pacific’s Abubaker Ali Kamal, from Qatar, third in 8:17.27 while Birech’s team-mate Chala Belo ran a personal best of 8:24.45 for fourth.
African champion and 2014 world leader Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed, from Egypt, gave Team Africa a rare win in the field events and made history by becoming the first non-European winner of the men’s javelin at the World or Continental Cup.
He led from the outset, opening with 81.77m before unleashing his winning throw of 85.44m in the second round. World champion Vitezslav Vesely placed second with 83.77m while Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott Walcott and Kenyan Julius Yego finished third and fourth with 83.52m and 83.06m respectively.
Aman clocked 1:45.34 in second place with European champion Adam Kszczot, from Poland, clocking 1:45.72 in third position.