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Kenyans head to Shanghai for Diamond League series

Wednesday May 15 2019

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech competes in the women's 1,500 metres at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix athletics competition at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on February 25, 2018. PHOTO | ANDY BUCHANAN |

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech competes in the women's 1,500 metres at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix athletics competition at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on February 25, 2018. PHOTO | ANDY BUCHANAN |  AFP

BERNARD ROTICH
By BERNARD ROTICH
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The second leg of IAAF Diamond League series will be held in Shanghai, China, where a number of athletes will be competing for titles as well as ranking points in the series on Saturday.

Most athletes are using the series as part of their preparations for the World Athletics Championships to be held in Doha, Qatar from September 28 to October 6.

The men’s 5,000 metres race will witness a strong representation from Kenya, with World Under-20 5,000m silver medallist Stanley Waithaka lining up alongside his compatriots Nicholas Kimeli, Cornelius Kiplangat and Richard Yator to fight for honours.

The Kenyan athletes will face stiff competition from among others, newly-crowned World Cross Country champion Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda, Paul Chelimo from the USA, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega and Bahrainis Albert Rop and Birhanu.

Waithaka, who has been training in Japan, said Saturday’s field looks competitive and he expects a fast pace.

“I will be running with the best athletes in the race and I know it will be fast. Other than winning the race, my target is also to run under 13 minutes in the race this year,” Waithaka told Nation Sport Tuesday on phone from Japan.

Waithaka also said he will be targeting a Personal Best in the race. The athlete, who runs for Yalkut Honsha Company, said he has been preparing for the race after failing to nail down a place in Team Kenya for the World Cross Country Championships held in February in Denmark.

“After failing to secure a place in the World Cross Country team in February, I decided to go back and concentrate on the race and I’m happy my training has been good all along and I will be looking forward to perform well,” said the athlete, whose Personal Best is 13:10.14.

OLD RIVAL

Waithaka will also be meeting his rival Barega for the first time since finishing ahead of the Ethiopian in Tampere, Finland, last year during the World Under-20 Championships.

Waithaka is alive to the fact that Barega will be seeking to avenge last year’s loss, but the World Under-20 5,000m silver medallist insists he is out to give his best in the race as he eyes a podium finish.

Waithaka insists Diamond Leagues races are totally different from championship races.

“Our good combination with Edward Zakayo enabled us to beat Barega last year in Finland and I know he will be seeking revenge when we meet but I will give my best as I look forward to a podium finish,” said the athlete, who is also the World Under-18 5,000m bronze medallist.

Kenyan athletes will also feature in 1,500m race, with Winny Chebet seeking to win the title when she lines up on Saturday.

She will be joined by her compatriots Nelly Jepkosgei and Josephine Chelangat in battle against Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan, Uganda’s Esther Chebet, Ethiopians Alemaz Samuel and Dawit Seyaum as well as Morgan Mitchell from Australia.

Women’s 3,000m steeplechase race will feature the world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, Mercy Chepkurui, Fancy Cherono, 3,000m steeplechase World Under-20 champion Celliphine Chespol, former World champion Hyvin Kiyeng, among others.

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