Conseslus, Ferguson eye second Diamond League wins

Fredrick Kipkosgei, Conseslus Kipruto and Jairus Birech compete in the 500m race during the Athletics ...
Fredrick Kipkosgei, Conseslus Kipruto and Jairus Birech compete in the 500m race during the Athletics Kenya 6th Track and Field meet in Eldoret County on April 14, 2016. Conseslus Kipruto won the race. Photo/Sylvanus Kipkosgei/

Two-time Worlds silver medallist, Conseslus Kipruto and Ferguson Rotich will be seeking second IAAF Diamond League victories of the season at the third stop of the global circuit series and the first ever on African soil during Saturday’s 9th King Mohammed VI meeting in Rabat, Morocco.

Kipruto and Rotich will line up for the start at Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat brimming with confidence after beating loaded fields at the last event in Shanghai last weekend but will not it have their own way with imposing competition on the cards.

In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Kipruto will once again face-off with Diamond League champion, Jairus Birech after crushing the circuit speedster in Shanghai where he threatened to dip below the 8:00 barrier before settling for the 8:05.13 victory.

Birech was well beaten to second (8:08.28) and will be out to make a statement having declared his intention to attack the world record at the fifth leg in Rome in a race where two-time Olympics and four-time champion, Ezekiel Kemboi was never a factor as he ploughed back the field in 12th.

Athens 2004 bronze medallist and veteran circuit master, Paul Kipsiele Koech, Clement Kemboi (sixth Doha) and Lawrence Kemboi are among the slew of Kenyans with the biggest threat to their dominance coming from France’s former Olympics silver winner, Mahiedine Mekhissi Benabbad.

After stunning Olympics and world champion, David Rudisha for the second time in his career, Rotich who was fourth at the Beijing will face London 2012 silver winner, Nijel Amos of Botswana and the rest of the podium from last year’s World Championships in the shape of Ukraine’s Amel Tuka (silver) and Poland’s Adam Kszczot (bronze).

Algeria’s Olympics 1500m champion, Taoufik Makhloufi will step down the distance to add the star dust in the race where Amos will be in search of a resounding response after being knocked out at the semi-finals of the Worlds in his first outing of the campaign.

In the corresponding women’s race, 2013 Moscow Worlds titleholder, Eunice Sum will once again test her form against the resurgent Olympics silver winner and 2009 world champion, Caster Semenya of South Africa who blew apart the competition in Doha with a brisk 1:58.26.

Sum, the bronze winner from Beijing was so stunned by Semenya’s burst of speed she ceded second to Ethiopia’s       Habitam Alemu who posted a national junior record of 1:59.14 (WJL) for second as the Kenyan rounded the podium in 1:59.74.

Freshly-minted World Indoor champion, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba who took the global crown in Portland (2:00.01) in March will make her outdoor debut as well in the race.

Moscow Worlds silver winner, Mercy Cherono will renew acquaintances with the sizzling Ethiopian world champion; Almaz Ayana who started her season by beating her to the victory in Doha with a scorching 8:23.11 against the Kenyan’s 8:26.36.

Compatriots Janet Kisa and Viola Kibiwott who followed each other home in the Qatari capital in fourth and fifth are part of the competition.

In the non-Diamond League showdowns, 2010 Commonwealth world champion, Silas Kiplagat is the man to beat in the men’s 1500m for a first international circuit victory of the campaign with fellow Kenyans, Reuben Bett and Timothy Cheruiyot.

The Daegu 2011 Worlds silver medallist finished third (3:33.86) behind arch-rival and three-time world champion, Asbel Kiprop and Elijah Manang’oi in the Kenyan podium sweep in Doha.

Rising Emmanuel Kipsang will face veteran home runner and home favourite, Abdelaati Iguider in the men 3000m race with Hillary Maiyo also in the field.

Gladys Cherotich and Caroline Tuigong are the local interest in the women 3000m steeple.

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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