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Obiri leads Kenyan charge in Sopot

HELEN-OBIRINAIROBI, Kenya, March 6- Reigning World Indoor 3000metres champion Hellen Obiri will lead an eight member Kenya team at this year’s world event in Sopot, Poland starting this Friday live on your World of Champions.

Kenya will be looking to better her performance at the last edition in 2012 where she won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze to finish fourth on the medal standings.

Obiri stunned Meseret Defar to win gold in Istanbul two years ago and will hope for another medal this weekend.

She will have veteran Viola Kibiwott for company in her specialty race while Irene Jelagat will be a lone ranger in the women’s 1500 metres race.

The World Championships bronze winner will face Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, the reigning 1500 champion who has stepped up the distance having broken three world records in the winter season.

At the start of February she smashed the world indoor 1500m record with 3:55.17 in Karlsruhe.

Five days later, she took six seconds off the world indoor 3000m record with 8:16.60 in Stockholm. Little more than a week later, she set a world indoor best for two miles with a storming 9:00.48 run in Birmingham as she steps up the distance in Poland.

Obiri, 24, was Genzebe’s bridesmaid in Stockholm where she closed with a lifetime best and national record of 8:29.99, a massive 13 seconds off the Ethiopian with many predicting that finishing order will be repeated in Poland.

Team mate Jelagat (8:40.75, SB) is ranked third raising hopes of at least winning two of the three medals on offer.

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The men’s work is cut out for them this weekend as they seek a first gold medal since 2006.

Augustine Choge will be making his third appearance at the World Indoors and hoping to improve on his second place finish in the 3000 metres from two years ago. Caleb Mwangangi will make his debut in the same distance.

In the 1500 metres Silas Kiplagat gets another chance to win only his second major title. The confident 24 year old was sixth in the final two years ago and will hope to improve on his performance in finals after only one podium finish in four previous finals.

He will have Bethwell Birgen for company with the 25 year old looking to win his first ever medal for Kenya. Jeremiah Mutai will be a lone ranger in the 800 metres race as Kenyan men seek their first gold medal in the distance since Wilfred Bungei eight years ago.

Ndiku (7:36.27) comes in with a better rating than his established compatriot since he is number 5 on the world list.

Having run his career best 1:46.77 for fourth in Stockholm, Mutai will plough the lone furrow in a race where defending champion and world leader, Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman (1:45.08) is the outright bet for a second gold.

Aman, who won the outdoors title in Moscow last year, was the winner in Stockholm where Mutai and the rest bowed to his might.

Competition will again emanate from Ethiopia with Amman (800m) and red-hot Genzebe (3000m) as well as Yenew Alamirew and Dejen Gebremeskel in the 3000metres.


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