NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – After the completion of the continental championships, Africa’s held in the Nigerian city of Asaba, focus shifts to the Birmingham leg of the IAAF Diamond League on Saturday evening.
Kenya’s legion will be led by four recently crowned African champions and one silver medalist as athletes look to accumulate points in the third last leg of this season’s series.
World, Commonwealth and now African 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi will step down to the 800m distance as he looks to finish off the season well, seeking his second Diamond League victory this season.
Manangoi has thrice lost to training partner Timothy Cheruiyot in the Diamond League this season over 1500m but had one over his mate in Asaba where he beat him in a championship for a third consecutive time.
He had previously done that at the London World Championships last year, the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia and now the African Champs.
“I think for me, I am a better Championship runner than in the Diamond League and it comes from experience. I know how to manage and run a Championship race better and that is why I beat Timothy. A Diamond League is a different ball game because it is just one race and that’s it,” Manangoi told Capital Sport.
His only Diamond League victory this season came in Oslo at the Bislett Games where he ran a mile and won the race. He finished second behind Cheruiyot in Doha, Monaco and Rome.
“I am happy with how my season has gone and more importantly winning the African title. I just want to focus on finishing my season well and switch focus to the World Championship in Doha next year,” Manangoi noted.
He will contend for the Birmingham title with African 800m silver medalist Emmanuel Korir who has enjoyed a decent season, managing to pick a personal best time of 1:42.05 over the two-lap race.
Korir has won in Doha, Eugene and London where he set his PB and looks set to continue his streak and accumulate more points to earn a place in the final and fight for the prestigious Diamond League title.
The Polish duo of Marcin Lewandowski and Adam Ksczot, the latter fresh from being crowned European champion will also be in the mix.
Meanwhile, World, Commonwealth and African 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri will step down to the 3,000m race for the second time this season and she hopes to put up a better performance compared to Doha where she finished 14th in the same race.
Over 5,000m though, Obiri has been impeccable, winning the Diamond League meet in Rabat while she finished third in Eugene. In London at the Anniversary Games, she finished third over the mile.
Also in the race are cross country specialists Lilian kasait and Agnes Tirop.
In the men’s steeplechase, Conseslus Kipruto who won in Rome and finished second in Eugene will be looking to accumulate the points when he lines up against season’s surprise package Benjamin Kige.
Kige has won in Eugene, Hungary and Rabat and finished second in Rome and fourth in Monaco. Fresh from winning the African title, Kipruto will be going into the race more or less to enjoy himself, but has vowed to fight for a win.
Winny Chebet at the same time will be gunning for glory in the 1500m race, buoyed by her first major Championship title having won the African title in Asaba. Chebet, coached by the hugely successful Bernard Ouma hasn’t had a good season in the circuit.
She has finished 10th in Doha, fifth in Eugene, ninth in Lausanne and seventh both in Rabat and London where she ran the 1,000m and mile respectively. Hopefully, the weight of her African crown will push her to success.