NAIROBI, September 11 – Olympics and three-time world champion, Asbel Kiprop headlines a deep field in the men’s 800m as the 2015 track season culminates on Friday with the second IAAF Diamond League final, in Brussels’ Memorial Van Damme.
In men’s 5000m, Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, fresh from clinching silver in Beijing will be seeking to defend his title while Virginia Nyambura will be out to hold on her women’s 3,000m Steeplechase crown.
With Olympics and World record holder, David Rudisha, missing, Kiprop will be up against Beijing silver medallist Adam Kszczot and bronze winner, Amel Tuka as well as countryman Alfred Kipketer.
Also in the race that is certainly better than the field that competed in Beijing a few weeks ago, are Botswana’s Amos Nijel, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman and Elijah Manangoi who bagged silver in the men’s 1500m.
Despite failing to make the final at Worlds, Amos will secure the title with a third finish as long as Rudisha doesn’t win.
If Amos finishes outside the top three, things become very interesting, however, as Aman and Tuka could all be crowned champions with a victory.
Amos is the smart pick, however, given that he just ran 1:43.28 on Sunday in Berlin to defeat Aman and Adam Kszczot.
It won’t be easy for Amos, as he will have to deal with Kszczot (who won last week in Zurich), Aman and Tuka (who out-paced him in their last match-up in Monaco, kicking late for the win) plus two 1500 studs moving down in Kiprop and Manangoi.
Kiprop could absolutely win this race as he boasts an 800m personal best of 1:43.15, and though he was running the two-lap race a lot more in 2011, his 1500 season best was just 3:30.46 compared to 3:26.62 this year.
The one concern with Kiprop is that he’ll really have to pay attention to tactics to win in Brussels.
At Worlds and last week in Zurich, Kiprop was content to hang toward the back of the pack, confident that he could outsprint everyone in the final 200 but it won’t be as easy in the 800.
He has dominated the 1500m this year, but it will be fascinating to see how he copes against the 800m specialists in the two-lap race where Amos, will need to finish in the top three to secure the title.
Kiprop’s countryman, Manangoi, will have to be similarly careful. Just like Kiprop, Manangoi employed the same strategy in Beijing and Zurich, using a furious final 100 to take second in both races. Clearly, he has terrific speed, having won a 400 runner two years ago, running 46.5 — but we won’t know how that translates to the 800 until Friday considering there is no record of Manangoi ever running an 800.
-Ndiku title defence-
With eight points for a victory, the entire field has a shot to win trophy, the men’s 5000m features eight of the top nine finishers from Worlds minus Olympics and world double distant champion, Mo Farah.
Ndiku and third Beijing bronze medallist Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia should be the men to beat here.
The Commonwealth Games champion, who was seventh in a slow 1500 in Zurich last week, showed a terrific turn of speed to make the race at Worlds, could be at a slight disadvantage if things go really fast (he only began racing again in July following a knee injury), athough Gebhriwet, his chief opposition, has also been banged-up this year.
The pair, plus Worlds fourth-placer Yomif Kejelcha, have all won one DL race this year (Gebrhiwet and Ndiku’s victories were at 3,000) and they have the best shot at winning.
Based on her three Diamond League victories (Ayalew and Kiyeng have one each), the 22-year-old Nyambura only needs to finish third to clinch the title.
Last year’s world number1, Ayalew and world champion Hyvin Kiyeng are the only women who can catch Nyambura, but to do that, they would need to win the race and have Nyambura finish fourth or lower.
That’s going to be tough considering Nyambura hasn’t finished lower than third in her five DL races in 2015.
There is hope, however: Nyambura was only seventh at Worlds, and five of the six women who beat her (including Kiyeng and Ayalew) will be on the line in Brussels.
Kiyeng and Ghribi also went 1-2 in the final pre-Worlds DL meet in Monaco (running the fastest two times in the world this year; unlike Worlds, Ghribi won that won).
Kiyeng obviously has a lot more to run for she’ll take home Sh5.3m (USD50, 000) for the win if Nyambura is fourth or lower; a win would earn Ghribi only USD 10,000 but Ghribi was in a similar position last year and still won the DL final in Zurich.
Sixteen more Diamond Race trophies will be handed out, including the men’s 100m, triple jump, women’s 200m, 100m hurdles, women’s mile and 400m.
The winner of each Diamond Race title takes home Sh4.2m (USD40, 000) and when you add in Sh1.5m (USD10, 000) for a victory on the day, some athletes will be earning Sh5.3m (USD 50,000) for an evening’s work.
-IAAF material used to compile the report-