NAIROBI, May 7 – A host of top Kenyan athletes will be on show in the outdoor opening Doha Super Grand prix meet in Qatar on Friday.Olympic gold medalist Nancy Jebet Lagat, Olympic silver medallist Asbel Kiprop, Africa 800 metres champion David Rudisha, World 800 metres champion Alfred Kirwa and his female counterpart Janeth Jepkosgei will all be starting their seasons in the Gulf city.
Kiprop takes on fellow young talents Rudisha and Kaki
Nineteen year old Kiprop, the Olympic 1500m silver medallist steps down here, to 800 metres, and can expect a torrid time from colleague and last year’s winner, David Rudisha, who might have figured among the Beijing medals, had he not been injured for the national trials.
Another mercurial entrant is World Junior and World Indoor champion, Abubaker Kaki Khamis of Sudan.
Mirroring Kiprop, reigning World champ and Olympic bronze medallist at 800m, Alfred Kirwa Yego moves up to 1500m, accompanied by colleagues Alex Kipchirchir and Augustine Choge, who won the 3000m last year and set a World Junior record at the same distance here four years ago.
Maybe the Kenyans are responding to a North African 1-2-3 last year, and while winner, Abdelati Iguider of Morocco is missing this time, the pair who followed him home, colleague Mohamed Moustaoui and Algerian Antar Zerguelaine are present.
Lagat vs Jepkosgei at 1500m
Yet another Kenyan, Nancy Jebet Lagat gets an early season opportunity to dismiss claims that her Olympic 1500 metres victory was a surprise. She takes on Natalya Lishinskaya of Ukraine who won silver behind her in Beijing.
And for the second year in a row, another Kenyan, Janeth Jepkosgei tries to prove that she can do as well at 1500 as she has at 800 metres, winning a World title and Olympic silver in her first two years.
Cracking men’s 3000m to close
The final event, the men’s 3000m is always a cracker, and will be even more so this year, since joining former winner Eliud Kipchoge, who also took Olympic silver, and colleague Edwin Soi, who followed him home in Beijing, is a man who has been sorely missed through 18 months of injury and indisposition.
Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar (formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya) is on a par with Usain Bolt when it comes to entertainment on the track.
And the twice World champion and reigning World record holder in the 3000m Steeplechase will be doubly appreciated; by both the Qataris and by the rest of us who like a champion to display a bit (or in his case, a lot) of personality as well.