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High rising Birech takes on Oslo challenge

Tuesday June 10 2014

PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO Jairus Birech leads the pack during the National Athletics Championship-cum-trials in the 3,000m Steeplechase men’s finals at the Nyayo National Stadium June 7, 2014.

PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO Jairus Birech leads the pack during the National Athletics Championship-cum-trials in the 3,000m Steeplechase men’s finals at the Nyayo National Stadium June 7, 2014. NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Fresh from victory at the star-studded Rome Diamond League and the Safaricom National Championships, Jairus Birech’s race to the top continues at the Olso Diamond League Thursday evening.

An elite Kenyan field will also be on show including World 800m champion Eunice Sum, who is eying a hat trick after victories in Doha and Rome.

After being locked out at the National Championships, London Olympics bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Edwin Soi will be eying victory in men’s 5,000m race.

National javelin record holder Julius Yego will be battling the beats of the world as he continues to refine ahead of the Commonwealth Games due July 23 to August 3 in Scotland and Africa Championships August 10 to 14 in Morocco.

Birech produced one of the greatest upsets of the event, winning men’s 3,000m steeplechase race in a seasonal best of 8:06.20 during the Rome event Thursday.

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STRONG FINISH

Birech clipped 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Paul Kipsiele Koech by a massive 4:33 seconds as Brimin Kipruto, Olympic champion in Bejing 2008, completed the Kenyan sweep in third place with 8:11.39. The 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist and Africa champion Abel Mutai finished fourth in seasons best of 8:16.20.

Birech followed with another awesome show on Saturday to win the National trials in 8:19.8, beating two times World Junior 3,000m steeplechase champion Jonathan Ndiku (8:21.4) and Hillary Kemboi (8:23.6) respectively.

That feat saw Birech atone for missing the 2011 Daegu and 2013 Moscow World Championships and 2012 London Olympics with a place in the Commonwealth and Africa teams. “I am heading to Oslo to add more points towards the Diamond League Series,” said Birech. “I also want to make Kenya proud by winning both the Commonwealth Games and Africa titles.” 

Birech once again comes up against perennial rivals Kipruto, Kipsiele and Mutai in Oslo Thursday.

Longosiwa and Soi are gunning for their maiden Diamond League wins this season against fellow countrymen Caleb Mwangangi, who is the reigning World Indoor 3,000m champion and World 5,000m bronze medallist Isaiah Kiplagat.

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