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Obiri, Genzebe to clash at Eugene leg

Hellen Obiri.PHOTO/File

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8 – World champion Hellen Obiri and 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba headline a titanic matchup in the Prefontaine Classic women’s 5000m, the third stop of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League scheduled for May 26.

Obiri won last year’s World Championships and IAAF Diamond League Trophy in the 5000m, but Dibaba has come back from an off year with an historic 1500/3000m double-gold performance at the World Indoor Championships in March.

They are two of only five women to break 14:20 in the 5000m and both have set multiple Pre Classic records.

Their clash of skills includes speed – Dibaba owns the 1500m world record – and they will have unique company in Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan, last year’s world leader in the 1500m who won gold at the 2016 World Indoor Championships and now trains in Oregon. This will be the first time all three will race together at the 5000m distance.

Dibaba, 27, won the 5000m in Eugene for the second time by over 10 seconds. In 2015 she outran the pacesetters and clocked 14:19.76, the fastest ever run in the U.S.

Obiri, 28, is the Kenyan record holder in the 5000m, an event she took up seriously only after childbirth in 2015.

Her career best of 14:18.37 puts her at No.5 on the all-time world list. Last month she won the Commonwealth Games 5000m but was a distant 14th in the Doha 3000m last Friday.

Genzebe Dibaba setting a 5000m world indoor record at the 2015 XL-galan meeting in Stockholm (DECA Text&Bild) © Copyright

Hassan, 25, has successfully entered new territory again as she continues to illustrate impressive range. Three weeks before her world 5000m bronze last year, she lowered her 800m best to 1:56.81.

Three weeks after London, she finished as runner-up in the Diamond League 1500m final to Faith Kipyegon. In March she joined Dibaba as an indoor double medallist in the 1500m and 3000m.

As usual, the Pre Classic women’s 5000m also brings an exciting cross-section of talent from around the world, some making their debut at the distance and/or at Hayward Field and some returning to a place of past success.

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-Kenyan contingent-

The Kenyan contingent includes Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, 25, was fifth in last year’s World Championships and second in the Commonwealth 5000m last month.

Lilian Kasait Rengeruk, 21, was the bronze medallist at last year’s World Cross Country Championships and the Kenyan national 5000m title. Alice Aprot Nawowuna, 24, was fourth at 10,000m in Rio and at last year’s World Championships.

Lilian Kasait leads in final lap 5000m.PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Other Ethiopians include Letesenbet Gidey, 20, who made the powerful national squad as a teenager last year, finishing 11th in London. She lowered her 3000m best to 8:30.96 for fifth last Friday in Doha.

Gudaf Tsegay, 21, was announced earlier as part of the 1500m field, but has switched to the 5000m for her track debut at the distance.

The youngest in the field is 19-year-old Fantu Worku who’ll be debuting over the distance. She was the national 1500m champion last year and more recently finished sixth in the world indoor 3000m.

Others in the field include Swede Meraf Bahta, 28, who won the 2014 European 5000m title and finished second two years later. Konstanze Klosterhalfen, 21, is Germany’s second fastest ever 1500m runner with a best of 3:58.92.

Two others have won NCAA titles on the Hayward Field track: 26-year-old Marielle Hall of the US, the 2014 NCAA champion in the 5000m, and South Africa’s Dominique Scott, 25, who notched an NCAA 5000m/10,000m double in 2016.

2018 IAAF Diamond League calendar:

4 May – Doha, QAT

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12 May – Shanghai, CHN

26 May – Eugene, USA

31 May – Rome, ITA

7 Jun – Oslo, NOR

10 Jun – Stockholm, SWE

30 Jun – Paris, FRA

5 Jul – Lausanne, SUI

13 Jul – Rabat, MAR

20 Jul – Monaco, MON

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21-22 Jul – London, GBR

18 Aug – Birmingham, GBR

30 Aug – Zurich, SUI

31 Aug – Brussels, BEL

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