NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 6 – World Champions Conseslus Kipruto and Hellen Obiri as well as Olympics silver medalist and last season’s winner Timothy Cheruiyot will lead the Kenyan hunt for the Diamond Trophy at the season ending Brussels leg of the IAAF Diamond League on Friday night.
Beatrice Chepkoech opened up the floor with the first trophy last weekend after blitzing the women’s steeplechase in Zurich and the trio will look to take the Kenyan count to four, with Sh5mn at stake ahead of next week’s Kenyan trials for the World Championship.
The three will however face tough resistance from within and without for the crown.
Conseslus famously won the steeplechase title in Zurich last year running for 90pc of the race with one shoe, but he finds odds hugely stacked against him this season after just returning from injury.
This will only be his third race this season after racing in the Paris leg of the Diamond League finishing fifth while he failed to finish the race at the Africa Games in Morocco last week.
But, a man with a massive mental strength and determination to rise to the occasion in tough circumstances, no one should dare write off the king of the water and barrier race.
But tough competition awaits him in the name of 26 year old Benjamin Kigen who comes into the race on the backdrop of being crowned African Games champion in Rabat.
Kigen who won the Kenyan national championship last month finished second in Paris, finished third at the Casablanca leg of the Diamond League, while he won the Golden Gala in Rome and the Nanjing World Challenge.
While the battle might be between these two Kenyans, Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali who ran Conseslus rugged in Zurich last year is also another threat to the crown.
He beat both Kigen and Conseslus to the title in Paris while he also has victories in Monaco and Doha under his belt.
Elsewhere, another Kenyan v Kenyan battle is expected in the 5,000m when Agnes Tirop squares out with Obiri in the grueling 12-and-a-half lap race.
Obiri is the fastest woman in the starting field of 12 with a season’s best time of 14:20.36 while Tirop breathes on her neck with a season’s best time of 14:20.68.
Obiri has had mixed fortunes this season having started off by winning the IAAF World Cross Country Championship. She went on to win the non-Diamond League 3,000m race in Doha. Also under her belt is the Anniversary Games title in London.
She finished a disappointing sixth at the Prefontaine Classic, the Nike leg of the Diamond League in the USA. To clinch the Anniversary Games title in London, Obiri outran Jebet who came in second.
Jebet comes into the race fresh from winning the 10,000m title at the Kenyan champions where she also assured herself of a ticket to the World Championship at the end of the month.
Obiri won the Diamond Trophy last season and just like Conseslus, will be all out to ensure the title remains at home.
Sifan Hassan who won the 1500m title in Zurich last weekend will also be in contention for the title while another Zurich winner, Beatrice Chepkoech will also be competing, but the steeplechaser will be working on her endurance with eyes cast on the World Championship.
The final assault for the Diamond Trophy among Kenyans will be by Timothy Cheruiyot in the 1500m, the Rongai Athletics Club member also looking to defend his title from last season.
The on-form Cheruiyot has won every single race he has stepped the track on this season, save for the Doha leg of the DL.
He won at the Prefontaine Classic, Monaco and in Lausanne.
Competing for the same crown will be Africa Games bronze medalist Charles Simotwo and Bethwel Birgen while the Dannis Ingebrigsten brothers of Filip and Jakob will also be in it to try and wrestle the title from the soft spoken Cheruiyot.
Cheruiyot has the fastest time on the field this season having run 3:28.77.