World champions Conseslus Kipruto (3,000 steeplechase) and Hellen Obiri (5,000m) and World 1,500m silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot Friday face an uphill task in Brussels where they will be defending their Diamond League Series titles.
Brussels event, the last of the two 2019 Diamond League finals, presents a good avenue for athletes to qualify directly for the World Championships slated for September 27 to October 6 in Doha.
It will be Kipruto’s third rack race this season after having recovered from a leg fracture and back injury to compete in Paris on August 24 where he finished fifth.
Kipruto, the Commonwealth and Africa champion, failed to finish his race with 1,000m to go at the just concluded African Games in Rabat, Morocco, having handed Kenya bronze in mixed relay race at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30, this year.
Kipruto, who is also the Continental Cup champion, face a star-studded field that has compatriot Benjamin Kigen, who is fresh from winning at the African Games, the 2018 Series leader Soufiane Bakkali and Ethiopian Getnet Wale.
Bakkali, Kigen and Wale are the only athletes to have won Diamond League race this season where Bakkali has three wins. Bakkali launched his quest with victory in Doha in 8:07.22 on May 3, triumphed in Monaco in a World Lead of 8:04.82 on July 12 before his exploits of 8:06.64 in Paris on August 24.
Kigen’s win in a World Lead and personal best of 8:06.13 on June 6 in Rome is his only win this season, having finished second in Monaco and Paris and third in Rabat. Wale chalked personal best and National Record time of 8:06.01 while winning in Rabat on June 16.
Obiri, the Commonwealth and Africa 5,000m champion, heads into Brussels with two victories from this year’s Series.
The Olympic 5,00m silver medallist won the 3,00m race in Doha in a World Lead time of 8:25.60 before romping home in a World Lead and Meet Record time of 14:20.36 in 5,000m race in London on July 21.
World 10,000m silver medallist Agnes Jebet, who beat Obiri to victory in 10,000m during the National Trials for the World Championships, and World 1,500m silver medallist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands are other contenders in women’s 5,00m final.
Hassan is the winner of the 3,000m race at Prefontaine Classic where she smashed both the World Lead, Area Record and Diamond League Record, setting new time of 8:18.49 on June 30.
Cheruiyot has been on a roller-coaster, winning men’s 1,500m in Stockholm (3:35.79), Prefontaine (3:50.49 WL- Bowerman mile), Lausanne (3:28.77 WL MR) and Monaco (3:29.97).
It remains to be seen whether other winners this season Marcin Lewandowski from Poland, Ethiopian Samuel Tefera and Uganda’s Ronald Musagala will stop Cheruiyot.
Musagala has had a good season winning in Birmingham in 3:35.12 on August 18 before going for the National Record breaking feat in Paris where he triumphed in 3:30.58.
Lewandowski also won the Dream Mile race in Oslo in a National Record and World Lead time of 3:52.34 with Tefera clocking 3:49.45 WL PB (mile) for victory in London.