World steeplechase record holder Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech is the clear favourite as she chases her third win at the Birmingham leg of the Diamond League on Sunday afternoon at Alexander Stadium, United Kingdom.
Chepkoech ran the fastest time this season when she claimed a double at the Prefontaine Classic in World Lead and Meet Record time of 8:55.58 on June 30 in Stanford, USA, having won in Shanghai in 9:04.53 on May 18.
Chepkoech, the Africa 3,000m steeplechase champion, only lost to compatriot Norah Jeruto in Oslo on June 13 where she settled second in 9:04.30. Jeruto clocked 9:03.71
Chepkoech, who later won the African Games trials in 9:26.64 on June 22 before remaining Kenya Police title on July 13, has pulled out of the Africa Games that started on Friday opting for the Diamond League.
Chepkoech, the 2018 Continental Cup champion, will be defending her Diamond league title during the grand finale on August 29 in Zurich.
Chepkoech will once again face Jeruto, 2015 World 3,000m steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng and World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Celliphine Chespol among others.
The 2014 World Under-20 800m champion Alfred Kipketer and Cornelius Tuwei are the only Kenyans battling in men’s 800m and 1,500m races while there is no Kenyan is in the women’s 800m.
The withdrawal of Chepkoech and Kiyeng from the African Games has left the women’s team with only one contestant Mercy Wanjiku hence giving Athletics Kenya a big headache.
Athletics Kenya senior deputy president Paul Mutwii disclosed that they will make replacements in due course.
The Games being held in Rabat and Casablanca started Friday but athletics calendar runs from August 26-31 in Rabat.