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Jamal's Dominating 1500m Win the Distance Highlight of Day 1 of 2007 World Athletics Final
by Bob Ramsak
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

STUTTGART, Germany -- Yet another dominating display in the 1500m by Maryam Yusuf Jamal was the highlight of the first day of action at the 5th IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final.

Running in unseasonably warm and pleasant conditions, Jamal proved for the fourth consecutive race since taking the world title in Osaka late last month that at the moment, she is without peer in the metric mile. Biding her time behind early leader Viola Kibiwott, the 23-year-old old took control of the race with just over two laps to go before sprinting from the midway through the final bend en route to a sizable victory in 4:01.23.

“I’m very satisfied,” said Jamal, after bringing her season to and end. “This year was really big for me. I plan to continue like this next year.”

In a blanket finish for second, it was Osaka silver medallist Yelena Soboleva who yet again took the runner-up honors in 4:05.35, just ahead of fast-closing Sarah Jamieson (4:05.43) of Australia and Agnes Samaria, whose 4:05.44 was a Namibian national record.

The closest race on the men’s program came in the 800, won by Youssef Saad Kamel. Making up for his disappointing appearance at the World Championships, the former Gregory Konchelllah kicked past Mbulaeni Mulaudzi en route to a 1:45.61 victory, breaking his own WAF record of 1:45.91 from 2004.

"Today was my day," said Kamel, who failed to advance from the semi-finals in Osaka. "This was my revenge after the World Championships which was very disappointing for me."

The tightly bunched field reached the bell in 53.17, with the victory still very much anyone’s to grasp. South African Mulaudzi, this year’s world leader, Moroccan Amine Laalou, and Kamel made a collective move to create a small gap on the field with 200 meters to go, before Kamel, the son of two-time World champion Billy Konchellah, forged to the lead at the top of the home straight. Mulaudzi tried to wrestle the lead back over the final 50 meters, but came up short to take second (1:45.67) after a victory here last year.

18-year-old Belal Mansoor Ali, another Kenyan-born Bahraini, tried to steal the win as he powered into the homestretch, but faded to third (1:45.93).

Breaking form the pack over the final turn, Kenyan Edwin Soi kicked to a decisive victory in the men’s 3000, the first track final of the afternoon before a crowd of about 20,000 at Gottlieb Daimler Stadium, the venue for the 1993 World Championships.

As expected, the race was a tactical one, with the entire field still in contention when the bell sounded, 6:55.21 into the race. Briton Mo Farah and Australian Craig Mottram headed the tightly-knit pack as they began the final circuit, but with the tempo increasing markedly, Mottram began to fade when Soi, and compatriot Joseph Ebuya made their decisive moves.

While Soi bolted to the lead –and the eventual victory in 7:48.81—Farah held his ground until Ebuya snuck by on the inside to finish second in 7:49.70, 0.19 seconds ahead of the Briton. Mottram, who seemingly faded out of contention with 200m to go, fought back to finish fourth (7:49.89). Eliud Kipchoge, the Osaka silver medallist in the 5000, was never a factor and finished a distant sixth.

Kenyan Eunice Jepkorir bid Romanian Cristina Casandra adieu at the final water barrier to win a tactical steeplechase affair in 9:35.03.  After a sluggish opening, Jepkorir, Casandra and World champion Yekaterina Volkova of Russia upped the tempo with five circuits remaining, and with two laps to go, the Kenyan, Romanian and Ireland's Roisin McGettigan had broken free. As Jepkorir bolted to the win off the final water jump, McGettigan charged by Cassandra to finish second, 9:35.86 to 9:36.38. Volkova, the world champion, was a distant fourth (9:40.21).

With just six women contesting the 5000 --world record Meseret Defar opted for tomorrow’s 3000m instead-- the race didn’t begin until the bell sounded, some 13:55 into the contest. Vivian Cheruiyot, who finished second to Defar in her world record run in Oslo, led a Kenyan top-four sweep in 14:56.94, ahead of Sylvia Kibet and Priscah Jepleting.

While this year’s edition is the second of three slated for the Stuttgart venue, local organizers and the IAAF are having second thoughts about returning next year. That decision is expected to come on Monday.


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