NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – World champions Hellen Obiri, Conseslus Kipruto and Faith Kipyegon will be out to crown their successful year in the grand finale of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League to take place at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Friday.
Sh5.1m (US$50,000) is at stake for the Kenyans if they overcome the challenge to join other winners who triumphed at the first of the two finales in Zurich a week ago.
The championship-style format adopted this season has seen the first 12 Diamond League meetings of the season being employed as qualifiers for the finals, but with no points being carried over.
That means every athlete arrives at their respective finals with an equal opportunity of winning the overall Diamond Trophy in their event.
-Obiri clear 5000m favourite-
Although she lost to Sifan Hassan in her last race in the Birmingham leg, finishing fourth in the 3000m race, Obiri fresh from wining the 5000m world title is the clear favourite in the field, although Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa and Letesenbet Gidey will be seeking to undermine her.
Obiri, the fasted woman in the 5000m, has had a scintillating season that includes setting a new Kenyan Record of 14:18.37 in Rome.
The Rio Olympic silver medallist has a commanding 29 points, way ahead of compatriot Margaret Chelimo who is second with 13 points while Ethiopian Gidey has 12 points.
-Conseslus eyes title defence-
Despite lagging behind in sixth place on the table with eight points from two events, Olympic and world champion Kipruto looks the main man in the 3000m steeplechase, having proved in London that the ankle injury that had hindered his preparations was not a big problem.
But if there is any lingering weakness in his approach his perennial Kenyan rival Jairus Birech, Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali and the US world bronze medallist Evan Jager will be ready to take advantage.
Leading the standings is El Bakkali with 23 points, followed by Birech with 20 points, Kenyan Amos Kirui is third with 15 points, Eritrean Yemane Haileselassie lies fourth with 11 points while Jager rounds up the top five in the stranding with eight points.
Conseslus is the defending champion having won the trophy last season.
Kipyegon, who won gold in a women’s world 1500m final in London that was one of the most dramatic and tumultuous championship races of recent years, looks favourite to finish the season on another high.
But while Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands finished outside the medals in London, she is fastest in the world this year at 3:56.14 and is a potent force in one-off races. Also present is the US 2011 world champion who forced her way through to an extraordinary silver in London, Jenny Simpson – never to be discounted.
Kipyegon is placed fifth with 15 points in the standings led by Polish Angelika Cichocka with 27 points ahead of Kenyan Winny Chebet who has 23 points while Hassan is fourth with 16 points.
-Nijel to take 800m-
London 2012 silver medallist Nijel Amos arrived at this month’s World Championships as many people’s favourite to win the 800m, but the wheels fell off for him in the final.
In Brussels he has a chance to put a winning spin on his season, however, in the absence of France’s surprise London gold medallist Pierre Ambroise Bosse. That said, Poland’s redoubtable double world silver medallist Adam Kszczot is in the field.
-Thompson seeking to end season on a high in 100m-
In the absence of the world champion, Tori Bowie, the Cote d’Ivoire’s world 100 and 200 silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou would appear to have the opportunity to bring her hugely creditable season to a winning conclusion in the women’s 100m.
But while Jamaica’s Olympic champion Elaine Thompson could only manage fifth place in London, her performance in taking second place in the Zurich Diamond League 200m final behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo in a time of 22.00 suggests that she is coming back into form.
-Sh164.4m (US$ 1.6m) on the line-
Sh10.3m (US$ 100,000) will be at stake in each of the 16 Diamond Trophy disciplines in both Zurich and Brussels for a total combined prize purse of Sh329.9m ($3.2m), with Sh5.1m ($50,000), along with the Diamond Trophy, going to each winner. Prize money will be paid as follows:
1st – US$ 50,000
2nd – US$ 20,000
3rd – US$ 10,000
4th – US$ 6000
5th – US$ 5000
6th – US$ 4000
7th – US$ 3000
8th – US$ 2000