Andre Olivier takes 800m victory in Beijing


South Africa’s Andre Olivier won the men’s 800m in 1:44.88, Morocco’s Rababe Arafi takes 1500m win in PB of 4:02.71, and Kenyans Paul Kipsiele Koech and Purity Cherotich Kirui dominate the steeplechase at Beijing’s IAAF World Challenge meeting on Wednesday.

Middle-distance runner said he was ‘very happy about the win’, after he outsmarted the field with a final surge in the last 80 metres. It was the first win by a South African in a major international league meeting on the outdoor circuit this season.

Olivier sat back and allowed former world youth champion Leonard Kosencha of Kenya, who eventually faded to last place, take up the hard work on the second lap after pace-maker Eliud Rutto dropped out at the bell.

Erik Sowinski of the United States took second position in 1:45.68, and Edwin Meli of Kenya was a further 0.19 seconds back in third.

Olivier was just outside his season’s best of 1:44.85, set at the Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on Sunday, where he finished third, and he was 0.56 seconds off his two-year-old career record.

He said he was confident of building on his fine form in Europe next month, after returning home for a week, as he prepared to take another step forward in his 2014 season, which already includes an impressive 1:44.99 indoor debut in Birmingham in February and a respectable fourth place at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot the following month.

“The [fast] times will come. I was in control of the race [in Beijing] and that was the goal,” Olivier told SAPA.

In other races, Morocco’s took the women’s 1500m win in a personal best time of 4:02.71 ahead of Gudaf Tsegay (4:02.83) and Luiza Gega (4:03.12). Tsegay’s time was an African Youth record.

Kenyans and dominated the men and women’s 3000m Steeplechase events.

Koech led a Kenyan sweep of the men’s steeplechase in 8:06.04 ahead of compatriots Jairus Kipchoge Birech (8:06.55) and Jonathan Muia Ndiku (8:10.72) while Purity Kirui took the women’s in 9:25.68 ahead of Morocco’s Salima Elouali Alami (9:27.84) and Birtukan Adamu (9:32.35).

Egypt’s , few days after his 89.21m stunner in the men’s javelin at the IAAF Diamond League in Shanghai, limped off the runway this time with a knee injury and a best of 74.03m in four injury-hampered attempts.

(Additional reports from SAPA & IAAF)