Kenya’s World Championships hopefuls take the battle to the Olympic and World champion Mo Farah in perhaps the richest field to assemble in 5,000m this season at the Lausanne Diamond League on Thursday.
Unlike the women’s 5,000m race in Paris on Saturday where the world record (14:11.15) was touted to go up in smoke but failed, little is being said about the men’s 12:37.35 world record.
Commonwealth and Africa 5,000m champion Caleb Mwangangi leads 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa, the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Edwin Soi and World Cross Country silver medallist Bedan Karoki in the rich race.
It’s Mwangangi’s first competitive race this season after recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained during the Athletics Kenya track and field event in Nakuru in April.
“Facing Mo at last. I feel much better and the pain is no more. I implore Kenyans to pray for us,” said Mwangangi.
“It’s my first race this year and I hope all will go down well.”
Save for Karoki, who is using the race as a build up for his 10,000m specialty, the rest are eying a place in the 5,000m team for the World Championships due August 22 to 30 in Beijing, China.
Longosiwa is so far the only Kenyan to have won a Diamond League event this season following his victory in Birmingham in 13:07.26 on June 7.
The return of the beleaguered Farah has added a mouthwatering ingredient to the race.
Farah, who also holds the world 10,000m and 5,000m titles, had requested to be exempted from the Birmingham meet as question marks were put on his cleanliness over allegations of doping offences by his coach Alberto Salazar.
Besides the Kenyans and Farah, the field also has the strong Ethiopian trio of Yomif Kejelcha, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Imane Merga, and American Ben True.
Kejelcha, who is also the World Junior 5,000m champion, was the winner in Rome in a world-leading time of 12:58.39 while Gebrhiwet, the 2013 World 5,000m bronze medallist and 2013 World Cross junior champion, won the 3,000m race in Doha in a world lead time of 7:38.08.
True surprised many when he gave USA its maiden victory in New York over the 5,000m distance stunning favourite Longosiwa to victory in 13:29.48.
MEN'S 800M RACE
The men’s 800m race also holds promise of fireworks with Olympics champion David Rudisha, World champion Aman Mohammed (Ethiopia) and Commonwealth champion Nijel Amos facing off for the first time this season.
The duo have won a race each this season. Mohammed triumphed in Rome with a world lead time of 1:43.56 as Amos and Rudisha claimed victories in Birmingham and New York in 1:46.77 and 1:43.58 respectively.
Commonwealth 1,500m champion Faith Chepng’etich, World 5,000m silver medallist Mercy Cherono, who is also the Commonwealth 5,000m champion, Viola Kibiwott will field in a very open women’s 1,500m race.
The race has American Jenny Simpson, who holds the world lead time of 3:59.31 from her victory in Rome, Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum, who won in Doha and Oslo winner Laura Muir of Britain.
Doha and Birmingham winner Virginia Nyambura is eying a hat trick in women’s 3,000m steeplechase where she faces compatriot Hyvin Kiyeng, who won in Rome and New York winner, Ethiopian Hiwot Ayalew.