Winfred Yavi, Courtney Frerichs and Hyvin Kiyeng win the women's 3000m steeplechase heats on day 3 of athletics in Tokyo


winifred yavi .jpgWinifred Yavi, photo by World Athletics

Frerichs_Courtney-1a-OlyTrials21w.jpgCourtney Frerichs, US Olympic Trials, photo by Kevin Morris /Kevmofoto

hyvin Kiyeng .jpgHyvin Kiyeng, photo by Diamond League AG

This is Justin Lagat's piece on the women steeple heats, an event with a special tradition for Kenya.

The women's 3000m steeplechase heats were the first track events on the third day of Athletics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In what promises to be a great rivalry between Kenya and the USA in the final on 4th August, three US runners and two Kenyan runners made it through to the finals. Although there will also be tough competition from other nations as well, especially from Bahrain.

Winfred Yavi of Bahrain won the first and the fastest heat in 9:10.80 ahead of Peruth Chemutai of Uganda (9:12.72) and USA's Emma Coburn (9:16.91). Despite being the fastest heat, it was only one runner, Canada's Genevieve, who managed to proceed to the final by being one of the six fastest losers. Kenya's Purity Kirui finished 5th and it was not until the last heat was run did she realized that she won't be joining her two compatriots in the final after two other losers ran faster times.

USA's Courtney Frerichs won the second heat in 9:19.34 slightly ahead of Germany's Gesa Felicitas Krause in 9:19.62 and Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech who had immediately taken to the front in her usual front running style at the beginning of the race only to fade to third at the end in 9:19.82. Three of the fastest losers came out of this heat. They were Ethiopia's Zerfe Wondemagegn, Albania's Luiza Gega, and Genevieve Gregson of Australia.

The last and the slowest of all the three heats was won by Hyvin Kiyeng of Kenya in 9:23.17. Marusa Mismas-Zrimsek of Slovenia overtook Ethiopia's Mekides Abebe in the last 50m of the race to edge her in 9:23.36 against 9:23.95. Six runners had remained in contention for the win up to the last lap and is the reason why two of the losers here despite the slowest winning time still managed to proceed to the finals. The lucky two were Valerie Constien of the USA and Elizabeth Bird of Great Britain.

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