NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 8 – The shredded 2020 athletics calendar is set to try and piece itself up with the Wanda Diamond League season opening Meeting de Herculis in Monaco on Friday night where 11 Kenyans will strut the track, most for the first time this year.
The Diamond League which was set to gun off in May with the Doha leg was halted, just like most sporting events all over the world, with the advent of the novel coronavirus.
But with the world slowly opening up, World Athletics have come up with a ‘make-up’ season calendar which will salvage some pride and competitiveness for athletics fans.
The number of Kenyans in the French principality would have been 12, but reigning world and Olympic steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto had to pull out after his pre-travelling COVID-19 tests returned positive.
Thus, Kenyan eyes will be on world champions Beatrice Chepkoech, Hellen Obiri and Timothy Cheruiyot as well as Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon.
Chepkoech, the women’s steeplechase world champion as well as the world record holder will step up to the 5,000m race, most likely to build her endurance after a long lay-off. She will have Obiri for company as well as 1500m specialist Winny Chebet.
Obiri, the reigning world champion of the 12-and-a-half lap race had admitted that she might not be ready for the race as she was yet to pick up form well after the lockdown that limited training.
She will renew rivalry with Sifan Hassan, who beat her to the 10,000m world title in Doha last year.
Meanwhile, Cheruiyot will have a bone to pick with the Ingebrigtsen brothers when he gets down to the track in the 1500m race. Cheruiyot lost against the Norwegian brothers in the Maurie Plant Memorial Race in June.
He says he has prepared well for the Monaco duel and will set out for positive results as he looks to salvage some pride from the almost lost season.
For company, Cheruiyot will have training partner Timothy Sein who will most likely pace for him as well as Vincent Kibet.
Faith Kipyegon will meanwhile step down from her 1500m speciality and race in the 1,000m race where she is set to compete against Briton Laura Muir as well as world 800m champion Halimah Nakaayi of Uganda and countrymate WInny Nanyondo.
At the same time, there will be another Uganda vs Kenya match up in the men’s 5,000m when reigning world 10,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei takes on youngsters Jacob Krop and Nicholas Kimeli.
In the 800m, Ferguson Rotich will come up against reigning world champions Donovan Brazier of the USA while in Kipruto’s absence in the men’s steeplechase, Leonard Bett will step in to box up against Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali.
After Monaco, the Diamond League will head to Stockholm, Sweden on August 23.