NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20- Twelve Team Kenya members for the IAAF London World Championships will line up at the Stade Louis II track in Monaco on Friday night in their final competitive races ahead of the global showdown to be hosted from August 4-13 in United Kingdom.
The Monaco leg of the IAAF Diamond League will provide a superb opportunity for the Kenyan athletes to gauge themselves against tough opposition for the final time before they head to the British capital with Kenya looking to defend its world best status.
But hugely, most of the Kenyan eyes will be on world silver medallist Elijah Manangoi who targets to lower the world record in the 1500m. Manangoi, a two-time Diamond League Meet winner made this proclamation early in June pointing out it has been within his plan for a long time.
The 24-year old will have plenty of great memories from the Monaco track, having set his personal best of 3:29.67 two years back in 2015.
But with a season’s best of 3:31.90 set in Doha early in May, it will be a tall order for Manangoi to drastically lower the 19-year 3:26.00 record set by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj.
Manangoi will be joined in the race by three-time World Champion Asbel Kiprop, Timothy Cheruiyot and Ronald Kwemoi all who will be representing Kenya in London. Others are youngster Justus Soget, Jackson Kivuva and Charles Cheboi.
Kiprop will be looking to step up his preparations as he eyes to win a first ever world title in London, running in his fourth Diamond race this season. However, he has not had a stellar season, his best performance being a third place finish in the 800m at the London Anniversary Games at the beginning of the month.
At the same time, on-form Hellen Obiri will be working on her speed when she lowers to the 3000m. The Olympic silver medalist declared last month after the Kenyan Trials that she is in the form of her life after setting the 5,000m National Record in Rome on June 8.
She will also be joined in the team by Margaret Chelimo who will be running alongside her in the 5,000m in London and the two will be looking to sharpen their team tactics to ensure Kenya wrestles the gold medal from Ethiopian Almaz Ayana.
2015 World Cross Country champion Agnes Tirop, who will be competing in the 10,000m in London, will also be working on speed after scaling down to the 3,000m race. Other Kenyans in the race include Lilian Kasait and Nelly Jepkosgei.
They should expect competition from Briton Laura Muir and Ethiopia’s Burka Gelete.
In the 800m, the pair of Rio Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera and 2013 World Champion Eunice Sum will once again line up against Rio Olympic Champion Caster Semenya of South Africa as they put to test for the final time tact to bring her down in London.
Nyairera has twice finished behind Semenya in the Diamond League this season, in Doha and Eugene in May. The South African has won all her 800m races this season, her worst performance being a seventh finish in Rabat last weekend when she stepped down to run the 400m.
Nyairera has run a 1:57.03 season’s best but in the relatively fast Monaco track, she will be looking to better that time. Sum has not been at her mercurial best this season, her best performances being two third place finishes in Doha and Lausanne.
In Javelin, Julius Yego who marked his best ever throw in Kenyan soil last month during the National Trials will square it out with world leader and Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and fellow German Johannes Vetter for the final time before London.
Rohler has been on a roll this season, throwing a world lead and his personal best of 93.90m and has thrown above the 90m mark on two other occasions this season. Yego, with a season’s best of 87.97m has continually said he is not worried ahead of his World Championship title defense.
“It is different in the Diamond League and in a Championship. Yes, Rohler is on form but we will see how things go when we get to London. I am optimistic I will defend my title and I am currently keeping up with my training,” Yego who had been training at Nyayo Stadium said.
Kenyan participants in Monaco
1500m men: Timothy Cheruiyot, Justus Soget, Asbel Kiprop, Jackson Kivuva, Ronald Kwemoi, Elijah Manang’oi, Charles Cheboi.
800m women: Eunice Sum, Margaret Nyairera.
3,000m women: Hellen Obiri, Margaret Chelimo, Agnes Tirop, Lilian Kasait, Nelly Jepkosgei.
3,000m steeplechase men: Jairus Birech, Conseslus Kipruto, Abraham Kibiwott, Benjamin Kigen, Justus Kipkorir, Amos Kirui.
Javelin: Julius Yego.