World leading runs by top Africans Faith Kipyegon, Habiba Ghribi and Yomif Kejelcha were the highlights of the 39th AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme in Brussels on Friday.
Habiba Ghribi’s main aim was to simply better her own world-leading mark in the 3000m steeplechase as she sought to gain redemption after missing gold at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
But she didn’t just set a world lead; she set a meeting record, an IAAF Diamond League record and an African record, going to second on the world all-time list.
Unlike in Beijing where she lost her rhythm, and lost ground after the final hurdle, Ghribi, the world leader with her 9:11.28 run in Monaco took charge in Brussels.
She was away and clear on the last lap and charged through the line in 9:05.36, the fastest time in the world since Gulnara Galkina set the world record in 2008.
Jepkemoi held on for second place in a PB of 9:10.15 while Assefa came through on the last lap to take third in 9:12.63.
“In the beginning I didn’t want to waste too much energy,” said Ghribi. “I felt really good and capable of beating my PB, but to get the national record and the meeting record is just fantastic. Tonight everything was perfect.”
Kipyegon got her African record
Kenya’s starlet Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon broke the African record in the women’s mile with the fastest time in the world for 19 years.
Kipyegon challenged European champion Sifan Hassan for the lead as the pace dropped on the third lap. Hassan regained the lead after passing the bell, but Kipyegon kicked again in the closing stages and finished one-and-a-half seconds ahead of her rival in 4:16.71.
Hassan held on for second with a national record of 4:18.20 to secure her victory in the Diamond Race. USA’s Shannon Rowbury beat compatriot Jenny Simpson, 4:22.10 to 4:22.18.
Kejelcha majestic in men’s 5000m
But, unlike at the World Championships, Kejelcha didn’t let his older compatriot pass him on this occasion and held on for the win in a world-leading 12:53.98.
In the men’s 800m, Adam Kszczot held off strong challenges from Nijel Amos and Amel Tuka to win in 1:45.12. Amos was second in 1:45.25, 0.2 ahead of Tuka.
World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop was well beaten down in 10th, clocking 1:47.09, one place ahead of world 1500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi.