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Rudisha, Chemos go for glory

Thursday September 15 2011

Kenyan 800 metres world record holder David Rudisha during a press conference in Brussels, Sept 15, 2011 ahead of Friday's 35th Memorial Van Damme athletics event. Photo/AFP

Kenyan 800 metres world record holder David Rudisha during a press conference in Brussels, Sept 15, 2011 ahead of Friday's 35th Memorial Van Damme athletics event. Photo/AFP 

By AYUMBA AYODI [email protected]

World 800m record holder David Rudisha and Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase champion Milcah Chemos are headed for glory in the last Diamond League final in Brussels on Friday.

Fresh from winning his maiden World title, Rudisha ran the season’s fastest time last weekend, timing one minute 41.33 seconds while Chemos claimed her second consecutive bronze medal at the recent World Athletics Championships in Daegu.

Each winner will pocket $40,000 (Sh3.76 million) and a Diamond League Trophy.

Chemos does not need to finish or win the race since she commands an unassailable lead but Rudisha, 22, must win tonight in order to be assured of his share.

Rudisha tops the league standings with eight points, having won in Laussane (1:44.15) in June and Monaco (1:42.61) the following month. He also triumphed in London (1:42.91) ahead of Daegu Worlds but that did not count for the Diamond League.

Tops the women’s chart

His countryman Asbel Kiprop, winner in Roma, is Rudisha’s closest rival with six points, followed by another Kenyan, Jackson Kivuva (five).

Chemos tops the women’s chart with 20 points while her nearest challenger, Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, has 10.

The first of the finals took place last Thursday in Zurich where Kenya’s World double champion Vivain Cheruiyot led compatriots Nixon Chepseba and Paul Kipsiele Koech in winning a total $120,000 (Sh 11.28 million) and Diamond Race Trophies.

Cheruiyot and Chepseba won their respective 5,000m and 1,500m races while Koech’s second placing in the 3,000m steeplechase behind World champion Ezekiel Kemboi was enough to earn him the jackpot.

Rudisha’s dominance in the two-lap race over the past two years has been unrivalled.

After winning several races in 2009, including the one in Brussels, he improved the then 13-year-old world record of Wilson Kipketer by 0.02 seconds the following year.

Missed his world mark by a whisker

Having missed his world mark of 1:41.01, set last year, by a whisker at Rieti Grand Prix, Rudisha is expected to make another attempt.

In addition, he wants to bow out of his season in style by breaking Kipketer’s 14-year-old 1:42.20 stadium record at the Belgacom Memorial Van Damme.

Chemos, with a personal best time of 9:08.57, will go for Russian Gulnara Samitova-Galkina’s 2008 world record of 8:58.81.

Yet to be beaten in the Diamond League this season, having won five out of the six events so far, Chemos has only missed the Birmingham race won by Sofia Assefa (Ethiopia).

She won ahead of Beijing Olympic champion Samitova-Galkina at USA Diamond League event on June 11, the Russian coming in third behind Assefa.

Chemos, Njoroge and Rotich had swept the podium in the league’s opener on May 6 in Doha.

“Anything can happen in Brussels, including breaking the world record. It’s only God, who knows,” said Chemos.

Chemos narrowly defeated Assefa in wet, windy conditions in New York on June 11 but prevailed more comfortably over the Ethiopian and Kenyan Mercy Wanjiku Njoroge on June 30 in Lausanne.

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