World leading 1:56.76 for Jelimo, Rotich improves to 1:43.15 in Heusden-Zolder

World leading 1:56.76 for Jelimo, Rotich improves to 1:43.15 in Heusden-Zolder

Provided by IAAF

Heusden-Zolder, Belgium – There were three Kenyan highlights at the 33rd KBC Night of Athletics at Heusden-Zolder on Saturday (7). Olympic 800m champion Pamela Jelimo improved her world leading performance by 0.15 to 1:56.76. Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich set an astonishing 1:43.15 in the 800m, while Albert Kiprop won the 5000m in a personal best of 13:01.91.

A time trial for Jelimo

The target for Jelimo was to try and improve her seasonal best performance in her last competition before the Olympics. Marilyn Okoro from Great Britain paced Jelimo through the first lap in 55.3 and then the Kenyan continued her solo effort to finish in 1:56.76, shaving 0.15 seconds off her world leading best seasonal performance.

"I’m happy with this race. It boosts my confidence that I am getting better all the time, just ahead of the Olympics," Jelimo said. "This was a time trial today and it is very difficult to race alone like this, without being challenged by other athletes. In London I have to be competitive at a 1:55 level and that is what I will working on in the next weeks. There every athlete will be at her best and I want be ready."

Rotich issues a challenge to Rudisha

At the age of 19 Rotich is an amazing athlete, full of confidence and ambition. When he set a personal best last Thursday in Liège (1:43.62), he promised that he would go faster still in Heusden-Zolder. And that is what he did. Ideally paced again by the American Matt Scherer in sub-50 at the bell Rotich hardly seemed to slow down and even relaxed coming in to the finish. But his time of 1:43.15 said it all. He now becomes the third fastest man in the world this year.

"I’m not so happy, because I didn’t feel well today," said Rotich surprisingly after he crossed the finish line. "I found it hard to focus and to concentrate today and I didn’t feel comfortable in the race. After racing in Liège I expected to run 1:42 today. I saw Rudisha running 1:41 yesterday in Paris and one day I want to challenge him. I want to become the best in the world."

Hellebaut and Jonathan Borlée delight the local fans

The local fans turned out massively to support their heroes for London. Defending Olympic High Jump champion Tia Hellebaut won her competition with 1.94m. Hellebaut will now compete in the London Diamond League before leaving on a training camp in France for her ultimate preparations.

Jonathan Borlée looked impressive in the 400m. American Manteo Mitchell had no reply left when Borlée stormed away with 150m to go. The Belgian clocked 44.93 against 45.75 for Mitchell. He also won another battle: his twin brother Kévin won the 400m in Madrid in 45.09.

"It is not important who is the best of the twin brothers, we share our successes. This confirms that I am able to run 44.50 because I competed a lot and trained very hard over the last two weeks. In London I want to be in the final and run my best ever race in that final."

Kiprop the fastest finisher in the 5000m

Traditionally the KBC Night of Athletics attracts a strong field in the 5000m. A large and compact group crossed the 3000m in 7:50 pace but from then on the leading group started to break into pieces. Victory was decided in a sprint between four athletes. Kiprop sprinted off the front and it seemed that Moroccon Al Outaibi would overtake him coming into the final straight. But Kiprop was very strong and took victory in a personal best of 13:01.91.

Jeng wins the Pole Vault with 5.72m

Alhaji Jeng from Sweden was the best pole vaulter with a seasonal best performance of 5.72m. Svetlana Bolshakova secured another Belgian victory in the Triple Jump with 14.23m along with Adrien Deghelt in the 110m Hurdles in 13.50.

With Final Entries for the Olympic Games closing next Monday the KBC Night of Athletics was one of the last occasions to qualify. One of the guests in Heusden-Zolder was double Olympic champion and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the London Olympic Games Sebastian Coe.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF