Diamond League action resumes Thursday evening as the year-long series checks into the Italian capital Rome.
A number of Kenyan athletes are using this year’s series as part of their preparations for the sport’s showpiece event, the World Championships set for Doha, Qatar in late September and early October.
Kenyan men will feature in the 5,000m, 800m and 3,000m steeplechase while women will participate in the 1,500m, a race that is expected to bring the fireworks due to its competitive nature.
TANUI IN ACTION
In the men’s 5,000m, 10,000m world bronze medallist Paul Tanui will line up alongside compatriots Davis Kiplangat, world under-20 5,000m champion Edward Zakayo, Vincent Letting and Bethwell Birgen.
The athletes though will also have to contend with world 5,000m silver medallist Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda, Canada’s Commonwealth Games 5,000m silver medallist Ahmed Mohammed and Selemon Barega, Haile Bekele and Abadi Hadis from Ethiopia.
Tanui is optimistic that he can perform well in the race as this will be his first go at the 12-lap race.
“My training went on well and I will be competing today to gauge how my body will react. The Diamond League races is part of my build up for the World Championships trials where I want to get a slot to represent my country once again,” said Tanui.
“I have plans this year to better my performance because I have been winning bronze medals since 2013. I want to upgrade to either a silver medal or even gold but I have to really train hard to achieve that,” added the Kericho-based athlete.
Zakayo - who is participating for the first time in a Diamond League race and against rival Barega - said he is looking forward to running a personal best.
“My training was good back in Kapsait and I know it will be a competitive race but I will be running to gain more experience ahead of the world championships,” he said.
The athlete is also motivated to go after gold in the 5,000m in the Worlds, a medal that has eluded the country since the 2005 edition held in Helsinki, Finland.
“In addition to using the leg as build-up ahead of the national trials, I am also looking forward to representing Kenya in the event at the World Championships and regain the title that has slipped the country for more than 15 years,” he added.
In the 800m men’s race, Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal will be seeking a podium finish against compatriots Jonathan Kitilit and Ferguson Rotich.
It will be an uphill task for the athletes as they will be facing Botswana’s Amos Nijel who has a personal best of one minute, 41.73 seconds.
Winny Chebet will be lining up in the 1,500m race where she will be teaming up with her compatriot Emily Cherotich as they seek to beat a strong team that includes Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba among others.
Abraham Kibiwott, Nicholas Kiptanui Bett, Benjamin Kigen, Lawrence Kipsang, Barnabas Kipyego and Wilberforce Kones will be competing in the 3,000m steeplechase.