Echevarria shines as S. Africa's Manyonga suffers painful exit in Rabat

RABAT — Cuba's highly-rated Juan Miguel Echevarria claimed victory in the long jump at the Rabat Diamond League meeting on Sunday as South African world champion Luvo Manyonga was stretchered away with an ankle injury.

The 20-year-old Echevarria, the world indoor champion, claimed victory with a leap of 8.34m, just short of the season best of 8.38m set by Jeff Henderson of the United States.

With time on his side, the Cuban has made it his intention to eventually better Mike Powell's world record of 8.95m set back in 1991.

He has already had the world of track and field sit up and take notice with jumps of 8.92m in March and 8.83m in June last year even if they were wind-assisted.

"I am happy for my performance and achieving a season's best," said Echevarria, who finished second on his 2019 Diamond League debut in Stockholm. "I owe my achievement to the crowds and the great atmosphere."

By contrast, Olympic silver medalist Manyonga cut a desolate figure, being carried off after injuring his ankle on his fourth attempt having been in front at that stage with an opening effort of 8.21m.

The meeting in Rabat saw two season-leading times set. Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba clocked 3min 55.47sec in the 1,500m and compatriot Getnet Wale won the 3,000m steeplechase in 8min 6.01sec.

"I am ready for the world championships (in Doha from Sept 27-Oct 6)," said the 28-year-old Dibaba, the world record holder and 2015 world champion.

The men's 110m hurdles saw Jamaica's Omar McLeod, who was well on his way to victory, stumble over the last hurdle and in front of Russian rival Sergei Shubenkov to his right.

Shubenkov crossed the finish line in front and horizontally as a result of the clash. McLeod rolled home in fifth.

Shubenkov came from behind to catch McLeod before the last hurdle but was tripped just ahead of the finish by the stumbling Jamaican while still somehow managing to fall forward over the line first to claim victory in 13.12 seconds.

McLeod's tumble meant he ended up fifth as the 28-year-old Shubenkov won an early morale booster ahead of one of the most anticipated clashes at the World Championships in Doha in September.

Sprinter Andre de Grasse seemed to have put last year's injuries and illness woes behind him with a strong late burst that left Turkish world champion Ramil Guliyev trailing in the 200m in another indicator of potential drama to come in Qatar.

Yet it was not a result that entirely satisfied the Canadian, who won in 20.19 sec. "I was grateful for the victory but not happy with the time. I wanted a sub-20 seconds. But it's a long process," said De Grasse.

"I'm not yet fully healthy and still have a lot of work to do to be really back in shape. But I have time before the World Championship."

With Caster Semenya not participating following a war of words over her late invitation to compete in the Moroccan meet , the women's 800 meters was won by Kenyan Nelly Jepkosgei, in one minute 59.50 seconds.

The 30-year-old Nigerian, Blessing Okagbare, was a surprise victor in the women's 100m in 11.05sec, finishing ahead of Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou with Dafne Schippers, a medalist at the last two world championships, only finishing fifth.

Salwa Eid Naser, of Bahrain, held off Niger's exciting youngster Aminatou Seyni to win the women's 400m for her third Diamond League triumph this year, in a season's best 50.13.

Olympic marathon silver

medalist Kirwa banned

Kenyan-born Bahraini Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, who won marathon silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016, has been suspended for four years for doping, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced Monday.

Kirwa had been provisionally banned since May after the prohibited blood-booster EPO was detected in her blood sample. Her four-year suspension is backdated to May 7, 2019.

The 35-year-old finished second in Rio behind Kenya's Jemima Sumgong, who was banned for eight years in January for attempting to hinder an investigation into her use of EPO by supplying false documents.

Kirwa, who also won world bronze in Beijing in 2015, can appeal the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. — Agencies