Fresh from winning in Shanghai, Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich shifts her focus to Prefontaine Classic as World 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop launches his season with the Bowerman Mile title defence the event that starts Friday.
Also hoping to start their season well at Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, USA are World 10,000m silver medallist Geoffrey Kamworor and Caleb Mwangangi, the World 5,000m silver medallist, among other Kenyan stars.
Kenya’s Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera and 2013 World 800m champion Eunice Sum will be out to halt Olympic and World 800m champion Caster Semenya’s dominance in the women’s two-lap race.
World Cross Country bronze medallist Lilian Kasait won’t let her dark horse tag slow her as she battles in the women’s 5,000m race where Ethiopia’s World 1,500m champion Genzebe Dibaba is the favourite.
With World 3,000m steeplechase champion and Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng missing in action, World Junior champion Cellphine Chespol and Commonwealth winner Purity Kirui will be aiming to silence Bahraini’s Olympic champion Ruth Jebet in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase race.
Women’s 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase races go down Friday while the rest will be staged Saturday.
Chepng’etich, who won her 1,500m race in Shanghai on May 13 in a world lead time of 3:59.22, returns to the track where she broke her own national record after clocking 3:56.41 last year. The World 1,5000m silver medallist had just won in a national record of 3:56.82 in Doha before striking in Prefontaine.
Will Chepng’etich go for a repeat performance? “One can never tell but I am in good shape and anything can happen,” said Chepng’etich, who will face Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri.
Obiri is fresh from winning the 5,000m race in a world lead and personal best of 14:22.47 in Shanghai.
“I am looking forward to replenish my speed at Prefontaine,” said Obiri.
MISSED SEASON OPENER
Kiprop missed the Diamond League opening race in Doha on May 5 owing to personal commitments where World 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi won in 3:31.90.
Kiprop and Manangoi now take the battle to home athlete and Olympic 1,500m champion Matthew Centrowitz.
Last year, the lanky Kiprop claimed a record fourth Bowerman Mile title in a race where Manangoi settled third. Centrowitz missed the race nursing an injury.
Others in the race are Ronald Kwemoi, who won the 3,000m race in Doha, two times Diamond League series winner Silas Kiplagat and Olympic bronze medallist Nick Willis.
“Diamond Leagues are always competitive but I know myself well. I just need to play my cards well especially against a great runner like my friend Kiprop,” said Manangoi after winning the 800m final at Kenya Police Championships last week.
Kamworor and Mwangangi will take on Olympic and World champion Mo Farah and Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo in the 5,000m.
Kasait, who turned 20 in style last week with victory in 5,000m at Kenya Police Service Athletics Championships, isn’t afraid of the women’s 5,000m field that has Dibaba, Belaynesh Oljira, Gelete Burka and Dera Dida.