The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League season begins Friday in Doha, Qatar where a number of the world’s top track and field athletes will start their season as they focus on the World Athletics Championships scheduled for late September in the oil-rich gulf nation.
Kenyan athletes will feature in the 800 metres (men), 3,000m steeplechase (men), 800m (women), 1,500m (men) and 3,000m (women) races. World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri leads a number of athletes who will be battling it out in the 3,000m race.
She will be competing against world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop, World Cross Country junior champion Beatrice Chebet, Margaret Chelimo, former world 3,000m steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng and Eva Cherono.
Others include Gloria Kite, former World Cross Country bronze medallist Lilian Kasait, Winny Chebet and Loice Chemnung.
Tirop, who has been training in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County, was excited at the prospect of competing in Friday’s season-opener.
“I have prepared for the battle ahead well and I will be using the race as part of my training as we gear up for the World Championships in Doha. The race will be faster and that’s good for me because I want to sharpen my finishing kick,” Tirop said this week before she left the country.
The 800m men’s race will feature Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal - who trains in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County under the Global Sports Communications stable - will be teaming up with Jonathan Kitilit, Emmanuel Korir, Fergusson Rotich and Cornelius Tuwei.
“The season has started and we are going to use the race to gauge our performance. This is preparations for the World Championships later in September where I’m also eyeing to represent Kenya,” said Kinyamal, who has a personal best of 1 minute, 43.12 seconds.
In the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, World Under-20 silver medallist Leonard Bett will be competing for the title against Amos Kirui, Abraham Kibiwott, Benjamin Kigen, Emmanuel Kiprono, Barnabas Kipyego and Nicholas Bett.
Nelly Jepkosgei and Margaret Nayirera will represent the country in the women’s 800m race, where they will face Burundi’s Francine Niyonsoba and Ethiopia’s Malet Muguleta.
Eli Manang’oi, the 1,500m world champion and his younger brother world under-20 champion over the same distance George Manangoi will be eyeing success in the first race of the Diamond League.
They will be joined by Japan-based Ronald Kwemoi, Timothy Sein, Charles Simotwo and Vincent Kibet.