Athletics Athletics

Charged Kipruto leads Diamond trophy hunt


KIPRUTO-KOECHNAIROBI, Kenya, August 29- After missing out on his maiden world title in Moscow courtesy of the unstoppable championship force that is Ezekiel Kemboi, teenager Conseslus Kipruto is in line for a first career Diamond Trophy at Thursday night’s Zurich final.

The 19 year-old silver winner in Russia who got a taste of contemptuous finger wagging from his erstwhile hero Kemboi as he came across the line for the second medal requires a third finish at least to clinch the circuit crown and the $40,000 (Sh3.48m) winners’ jackpot.

Should he succeed, Kipruto will dethrone another of his idols, circuit specialist and compatriot, Paul Kipsiele Koech, who has held on the elite international circuit racing crown for the past three seasons.

“I want to run like Kemboi at championships and Kipsiele at the Diamond League. I want to be a mix of the two, they are my heroes,” Kipruto said in March as he prepared to compete for his nation at the World Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

If Kipruto is not in the top three, then his hero turned foe, Kemboi or the little known countryman, Hillary Yego, who topped the pair in Stockholm last week will be declared the winners should they get an unobstructed view of the finish line in Zurich.

The youngster billed to be the future of the steeple as far as his country is concerned has however, not finished outside the podium in the water and barriers event this season, including Stockholm where he was third as Kemboi, clearly suffering a major Moscow hangover, propped the field.

Other Kenyans on the Diamond rush at the final where 15 of the first 16 Diamond winners will be crowned- New Zealand’s Valerie Adams clinched the women Shot put title- include another silver winner from Moscow, Mercy Cherono.

Cherono however, faces the Herculean task of supplanting the headline acts of the race, the Ethiopian world champion pair, Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba, who are placed first and second in the women 5000m to accomplish what would be nothing short of an amazing steal.

With eight points up for grabs for the winner, Cherono (four) must win and hope Meseret (ten) and Tirunesh (eight) do not place in the podium.

But the two Ethiopians who avoided each other in Moscow with the former bagging the 5000m as her compatriot and arch rival won the 10,000m will square off in their first circuit final since 2006.

Then known as the IAAF Golden League, Tirunesh was on the verge of winning $125,000 (Sh10.75m today) with victory but out came her foe to win by the thickness of a vest and deny her the jackpot. A week earlier in Brussels, she appeared to scuttle Meseret’s attempts to break the world record.

The women 10000m Worlds silver winner, Gladys Cherono will also feature in the Zurich showdown hoping to continue embellishing her reputation.

Although she is not in the running for the Diamond Trophy, newly coined surprise women 800m world titleholder, Eunice Sum, will line-up against the Russian she dethroned, Mariya Saminova with revenge at the heart of the home favourite who was put to the shade by the Kenyan’s late burst.

Olympic silver winner, South Africa’s Caster Semenya, will feature in her first race of the season hoping to dip under 2:00 in a race where the winner will take home the Diamond crown.

Moscow champion, Asbel Kiprop, who paled in Stockholm has a chance to restore his billing in the men 1500m although he does not have a chance to win the circuit title with compatriots, former World junior champion, Caleb Ndiku and Bethwell Birgen, who failed to qualify for the Russia final standing a chance to win top Diamond honours.