NAIROBI, Kenya, June 7 – Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto and World Javelin Champion Julius Yego will highlight the fourth leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Rome, Italy on Thursday night.
Proved unbeatable in the 3000m steeplechase last year, winning six times on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, the Kenyan will look for more of the same in his 2017 debut in the event.
Kipruto was well off his best on his first race of the season in Doha, finishing 12th in the 3000m in 7:49.00, but should prove a different athlete back over the obstacles this week.
However, his compatriot Jairus Birech has always proven tough to beat in this realm and will look to reclaim that dominance, as will the event’s former king, Ezekiel Kemboi, who surrendered his Olympic title to Kipruto last year.
In the men’s javelin, Germany’s Thomas Rohler heads a star-studded field.
During his last appearance in this realm – in Doha last month – the Olympic champion unleashed the longest throw in 20 years when launching the spear 93.90m, the sixth best throw of all time, and with ideal conditions set to grace the Olympic stadium on Thursday for the 37th edition of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, the 25-year-old will be looking for more heroics.
However, he will take on a field loaded with quality, facing 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott and a trio of world champions in Yego, Vitezslav Vesely and Tero Pitkamaki.
The women’s 5000m will see another world record attempt for Genzebe Dibaba, who came up short when chasing older sister Tirunesh’s mark of 14:11.15 in Eugene 11 days ago.
However, this time around the Ethiopian is likely to have more company in the shape of Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, who clocked a world-leading 14:22.47 for the distance in Shanghai, three seconds quicker than Dibaba managed in Eugene a fortnight later.
Others to watch include Kenya’s Irine Cheptai, the world cross-country champion, and Ethiopian junior Letesenbet Gidey, who clocked 14:36.84 behind Obiri in Shanghai.
The men’s 800m will feature a clash between some of Europe and Africa’s finest, with European champion Adam Kszczot and fellow Pole Marcin Lewandowski taking on a sextet of formidable Kenyans.
Chief among them is 2016 Diamond Trophy winner Ferguson Rotich, though U20 star Kipyegon Bett may well be the pre-race favourite, having taken an impressive win in Shanghai in 1:44.70, where he relegated two-time Olympic champion David Rudisha to fourth.
Nijel Amos is another intriguing entrant, the Motswanan who has run 1:41.73 seeking to return to top form.
The women’s 1500m will be headlined by Sifan Hassan, the world indoor champion, who has run more than three seconds quicker than anyone in the field.