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Rain Soaks Athletes At Aviva Grand Prix

It rained, rained some more, then rained again after that.  

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved Used with permission.

Londoners have been enduring wet weather all summer, and it set the stage for the second and final day of the Aviva London Grand Prix, the eighth stop of the 2012 Samsung Diamond League.  Nearly every event was held in rain or heavy rain at Crystal Palace where many fans huddled under umbrellas to watch the action.

In the women’s 800m, USA Olympic Trials fourth place finisher Molly Beckwith surely drew some solace from a hard-fought victory over 2011 world championships bronze medalist Janeth Jepkosgei. With “rain teeming down,” as commentator Tim Hutchings described it, Beckwith chased Jepkosgei down the homestretch, just nipping her at the tape. Both athletes were given the same time of 2:00.68.

“In the second 400m, I didn’t have that extra little pop that I wanted, but I was able to hold off a really fast competitor,” Beckwith told the IAAF. “To win a meet like this is a really big deal and it just gives you confidence going into the next one.”

The men’s two-lap contest went to Poland’s Adam Kszczot, the 2011 European indoor champion. Off of solid pacemaking by American Matt Scherer (49.71 at 400m), Kszczot out-legged Kenyan Job Kinyor and Briton Andrew Osagie in the final 200m to win in 1:44.49. Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, last summer’s world championships silver medalist, only finished fourth.

“I’ve just come from a really heavy training camp at altitude in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and I’ve been a little bit tired so I just wanted to follow the leading athletes in this race,” Kszczot said in his post-race interview.  “I got first place so I’m really, really glad, especially with the last 200m.”

This year’s fastest miler indoors, Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat, was victorious today in London, defeating British Olympian Ross Murray, 3:52.44 to 3:52.77. Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku was third (3:53.15), followed by reigning Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis (3:53.64). Murray said the race was a terrific warmup for the London Games in three weeks’ time.

“It was absolutely amazing coming down that home straight, I’ve never heard anything like it in my life,” Murray told IAAF interviewers. “Going in to The Olympics what more do I need? I’m absolutely over the moon. I excelled myself again which is unbelievable for me.”

American Olympian Leo Manzano had a bad day, finishing 11th and last in 4:00.78. He said via his Twitter feed that his “legs felt flat in the race today” and that he was “brushing this one off.”

The final distance event of the day, the women’s steeplechase, Kenya’s Phanencer Chemion led three of the last four laps, before falling apart in the final 300 meters (she would finish seventh). At the bell, Romania’s Ancuta Bobocel shot to the lead, with Latvia’s tiny Polina Jelizarova following her closely. The pair pushed each other down the backstretch keeping Britain’s Barbara Parker at bay. Coming over the final water barrier, Bobocel pushed off strongly, gained a stride on Jelizarova, and expanded her lead in the homestretch to win in a personal best 9:27.24. Jelizarova got a national record 9:28.27 in second place, and Parker managed to hold off American Olympian Bridget Franek in the closing meters, 9:29.22 to 9:29.53, to take third. Franek’s mark was a personal best.

Bobocel, who had no outdoor season last year (save the European Cross Country Championships last December) because of an injury, said today that she was delighted to be in good form in advance of the London Olympics.

“It was very good, I am so happy,” she gushed. She added: “Last year I couldn’t run because I had a problem with my knees and had a big operation on the cartilage, and now I’ve come back and I’m very happy because the Olympic Games are coming and I feel so good. I believe in my power and my training for the Olympic Games.”

The Samsung Diamond League makes one more stop before the Olympic Games break, visiting Monaco for the Herculis meeting on July 20.