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Kenyans look to impress in Zurich

Thursday August 29 2019

Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya celebrates after winning the women's 3000 metres steeplechase event during the IAAF Diamond League competition in Shanghai on May 18, 2019. PHOTO | HECTOR RETAMAL |

Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya celebrates after winning the women's 3000 metres steeplechase event during the IAAF Diamond League competition in Shanghai on May 18, 2019. PHOTO | HECTOR RETAMAL |  AFP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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A horde of Kenyans athletes will be in strong contention when the first of the two Diamond League finals goes down Thursday night in Zurich, Switzerland.

World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who has been dominant this season, winning three out of four races all with Meet Records before the final, is favourite to defend her Diamond League 3,000m steeplechase title.

World Under-20 5,000m silver medallist, Stanley Waithaka faces a fierce battle from an array of stars from Ethiopia and World 5,000m silver medallist, Paul Chelimo of United States among others.

Commonwealth champion Wyclife Kinyamal, who won in Lausanne in a season’s best 1:43.78 on July 5, Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich, the winner in London in 1:43.14 on July 21, are in the rich men’s 800m final that has Africa 800 champion Amos Nijel from Botswana among others.

Whether Continental Cup and Africa 1,5000m champion Winny Chebet of Kenya will reign supreme in the women’s 1,500m race that has World 1,500m silver medallist Sifan Hassan from the Netherlands and 1,500m World record holder Genzebe Dibaba, is left to be known.

Chepkoech has only lost once this season to fellow countrywoman Norah Jeruto, who claimed victory in Oslo on June 13 also in a Meet Record and World Lead time of 9:03.71, with Chepkoech coming second in 9:04.30.

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Chepkoech, who is the Africa and Continental Cup champion, ran her best race this season at Prefontaine Classic on June 30 in Stanford, where she chalked a World Lead and Meet Record of 8:55.58.

Chepkoech also won in Shanghai (May 18) and Birmingham (August 18) in Meet Records of 9:04.53 and 9:05.55 respectively.

Chepkeoch and Jeruto face a rich field that has World champions Hyvin Kiyeng (2015), Emma Coburn from USA (2017) and World Under-20 champion Celliphine Chespol.

Waithaka faces a field that has five athletes who have won either 3,000m or 5,000m races during this season.

World Cross Country champion Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, who is also a double Commonwealth champion, highlights the rich field. Cheptegei also holds silver in 10,000m from the 2017 World Championships.

The Kenyans face four Ethiopians, who are the other winners this season.

Yomif Kejelcha, the 2016 and 2018 World Indoor 3,000m champion from Ethiopia, tops the vanguard with two wins. He claimed victory in 5,000m race in Shanghai in 13:04.16, before returning 13:00.56 in Lausanne.

Ethiopia’s Haile Bekele, who won the 5,000m race in a World Lead of 12:52.98 in Rome and compatriots Selemon Barega, the winner of the 3,000m in Oslo in 7:32.17 as well as Hagos Gebrhiwet, who won the 5,000m in London in 13:01.86, are all in the race for the Diamond League trophy.

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