Niyonsaba pips Obiri to sign off season in style in Zurich
Francine Niyonsaba continued her red-hot form as she clinched her maiden Diamond League trophy over 5000m in the opening day of the 2021 Diamond League finals Wednesday evening in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Burundian clocked 14:28.98 to beat two-time winner Hellen Obiri who finished second in 14:29.69 as Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye placed third in 14:30.30
It was a second win a row for Niyonsaba who also secured victory at the Brussels meeting last week as she is slowly establishing herself as a force to reckon in the 12-lap race.
The athletes took a new adventure away from the normal 400m track as they competed in a temporary 560m- track.
“I stayed behind most of the race, this was my tactics, I am still learning after switching from 800m to longer distances. I did what I had to do. We love to see the people around here, cheering for us. This race was amazing. I love challenges. I have a lot of resilience and determination. Of course, I will celebrate this victory here in Zurich. I am happy to compete here again after three years. I will relax starting tomorrow although I have some more race.” Niyonsaba said.
Obiri, the two-time world champion had announced that she was making her final Diamond League appearance as she eyes a switch to road races next season.
The 31-year-old was seeking her third crown after reigning supreme in 2017 and 2018.
“I am not disappointed, I am quite happy. This race was like a championship. It was a new experience, we did not know where we can start to kick and to accelerate etc. It was the first event like this. It was a memorable moment for me. The race was hard for me, I tried to kick and did my best, but Francine is a former 800m runner. She had a stronger kick,” observed Obiri.
Kenya’s Margaret Chelimo, Eva Cherono, Lilian Kasait and Beatrice Chebet placed fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth respectively.
In the men’s 5000m race, Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi took victory in 12:58.65 ahead of Birhanu Balew of Bahrain who finished second in 13:01.27 as Kenya’s Jacob Krop placed third in 13:01.81
Nicholas Kimeli (13:02.43) and Michael Kibet (13:15.36) finished fourth and sixth respectively.
The two-day event which marks the end of the 2021 Diamond League season continues Thursday evening.