September 14, 2014
Emma Coburn ended the most successful year of her career with a big $30,000 win at the Continental Cup in Marrakech, Morocco, outkicking her rival Hiwot Ayalew for the first time to get the win in 9:50.67.
There are no rabbits at the Continental Cup and small fields of 8, so many of the distance races start slow and this was no exception. The first kilometer was 3:40.6. The pace picked up the 2nd km (6:52.20), but this one was coming down to the final kick.
On the final lap Coburn, Ayalew, and Ruth Jebet of Bahrain were the only three in contention. Ayalew seized the lead as she and Coburn separated from Jebet. Ayalew opened up a lead of a few meters on Coburn and maintained it as they hit the final water barrier.
Coburn had something in reserve as coming off the final turn, she came back and gained on Ayalew. The entered the final hurdle side by side. Was Coburn really going to outkick Ayalew for the first time?
When Ayalew stumbled coming off the final barrier, the answer was a definite yes. Ayalew landed awkwardly side by side with Coburn and nearly stumbled into the infield before regaining her balance. Coburn glanced over, saw her good fortune, and powered to the line for the victory. Ayalew manged to finish .92 behind Coburn and then she sat on the track grabbing her leg. Coburn waived for medical personnel and Ayalew was carried off the track.
Big Win for Coburn
While Ayalew’s stumble clouds the picture a little this was the best final 100m Coburn has ever had vs Ayalew. Before the stumble Coburn was gaining on Ayalew. In the past during the final 100m, it’s been Ayalew pulling away from Coburn.
They had raced 9 times before today and Coburn had beaten Ayalew once in her life, when she won the Shanghai Diamond League meet earlier this year, when Ayalew and others thought Coburn was a rabbit who had dropped out of the race. In Paris and even Glasgow this year where Emma Coburn broke the American record, Ayalew had outkicked Coburn the final lap. Today, Coburn was clearly best, and was best even before the stumble. That has to help Coburn’s confidence for next year.
Until next year, Coburn can enjoy the extra $15,000 she picked up for the win.
Afterwards she told the IAAF, “I was used to having them pass me at the end, but just had more left in the tank (today) because I didn’t start so hard and I was able to finish strong. I’m happy about it.”
Video highlights for USA visitors:
Men’s Steeplechase Recap below.
|6||215||Salima ELOUALI ALAMI||Africa||MAR||10:08.35|
Men’s Steeplechase: Jairus Birech Wins as He and Jager Both Close Fast
Jairus Birech blitzed a 58-second final lap to win the Continental Cup over Evan Jager in 8:13.18 and show why he’s the best steeplechaser in the world. Jager’s final lap was his quickest of the year as he ran 58.89, but he had to settle for second and $15,000.
Jager led on the final lap until the final water barrier, where Birech hit the afterburners and went by Jager fairly quickly. Birech’s win was fairly comfortable but he kept pushing the final 100m looking at the big screen and grimacing to make sure he was holding off Jager.
A goal for Jager this year was to learn how to close faster in races and he definitely did that here. When he set his American record last week, he closed in 62.1 versus today’s 58.89.
He was glad to pick up points for the Americas team.
|1||600||Jairus Kipchoge BIRECH||Africa||KEN||8:13.18|
|3||630||Abubaker Ali KAMAL||Asia-Pacific||QAT||8:17.27||SB|
|5||543||John Kibet KOECH||Asia-Pacific||BRN||8:28.96|