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Kemboi leads deep Kenyan field in Rome steeplechase

 Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi wins the final of the men's 3,000 metres steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing on August 24, 2015. PHOTO/AFP
Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi wins the final of the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing on August 24, 2015. PHOTO/AFP

ROME, Italy, May 25 – Olympic and world champion Ezekiel Kemboi will lead a deep Kenyan field for the fifth leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Rome June 2.

The presence of Kemboi was confirmed last week and the four-time world champion will be joined by his compatriots in form Conseslus Kipruto, Brimin Kipruto and 2015 Diamond Race winner Jairus Birech in the 3000m steeplechase race.

The trio finished second, third and fourth respectively behind Kemboi at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Conseslus Kipruto has already won the first two legs in this Diamond Race discipline in Doha and Rabat in convincing fashion, running a world-leading time of 8:02.77 at the latter venue on Sunday despite celebrating down the home straight and easing up, and he will be looking for a third successive win in this summer’s series to progress his bid to recapture the Diamond Rece he won in 2013.

The world record of 7:53.63 was set by Qatar’s Saif Saeed Shaheen in 2004 but there is a possibility of a fully-fledged attack on this mark in Rome and certainly all four men have the credentials to launch a credible attempt to improve this 12-year-old standard.

Brimin Kipruto missed Shaheen’s world record by just 0.01 in Monaco five years ago, Kemboi is the sixth fastest runner in history with 7:55.76 and Birech, the 10th fastest with his personal best of 7:58.41 set in 2014.

Birech also won in Rome two years ago when the discipline was last staged at the meeting in the famous 1960 Olympic stadium, one of six victories in IAAF Diamond League meetings that summer when he got the first of his two Diamond Race titles.

Conseslus Kipruto has yet to break eight minutes but, on the evidence in Rabat when he also said he was saving himself for races later in the season, the 22-year-old former world youth and junior steeplechase champion could join that elite club in Rome.

2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar

6 May – Doha, QAT

14 May – Shanghai, CHN

22 May – Rabat, MAR

28 May – Eugene, USA

2 Jun – Rome, ITA

5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR

9 Jun – Oslo, NOR

16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE

15 Jul – Monaco, MON

22-23 Jul – London, GBR

25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI

27 Aug – Paris, FRA

1 Sep – Zurich, SUI

9 Sep – Brussels, BEL