KEMBOI LEADS KENYAN LEGION: Ezekiel, Vivian set for Friday’s Diamond League in Doha

ATHLETICS |
Kemboi of Kenia reacts as he crosses the finish line in the men's 3.000m steeplechase event during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing

Three Kenyans are among nine reigning world outdoor champions set for the opening meeting of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, on Friday.

The meeting in the Qatari capital has traditionally attracted the elite of athletics, and this year’s edition is no exception, with 38 champions and 80 medallists from past Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships, indoors and outdoors, expected for the show.

World champions Asbel Kiprop, Ezekiel Kemboi and Vivian Cheruiyot, among other world’s biggest stars that include men’s six current and former Olympic champions will be in Doha.

Asbel will lead silver medallist Elijah Manangoi, Silas Kiplagat, Bethwel Birgen, Robert Biwott, Jackson Kivuva and Andrew Rotich in 1,500m duel.

In what appears a reminiscent of the Beijing worlds showdown, Kemboi takes on silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto, Brimin Kipruto and Jairus Kipchoge, the 2015 IAAF Diamond League Trophy winner.

Fourteen athletes competing have been world champions outdoors – nine alone last year in Beijing – and nine have won a world indoor title.

In the women’s events, Doha will welcome 18 global champions and 37 medallists. Cheruiyot will anchor Kenyan women in 3,000m alongside Mercy Cherono, Janet Kisa and Viola Kibiwott against Ethiopia’s world champion Almaz Ayana and Gelete Burka.

World 800m bronze medallist Eunice Sum will join forces with former world junior silver medallist Winny Chebet, taking on South Africa’s former world champion Caster Semenya in two-lap race.

Kazakhstan’s Olga Rypakova and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown have struck Olympic gold, while 11 have also claimed world titles outdoors – seven in Beijing last year – and seven indoors.

The long list of champions includes seven athletes who have grabbed at least one medal at all three major global competitions: local hero Mutaz Essa Barshim, LaShawn Merritt, Aries Merritt, David Oliver and Taylor, along with Rypakova and Campbell-Brown.

Most of Doha’s meeting records – a competition first held in 1997 – were set after the IAAF Diamond League inaugurated in 2010. Just four men’s records were set before 2010, the oldest being James Beckford’s long jump of 8.41m from 1999. Three fell in 2015, at what was widely regarded as Doha’s best ever IAAF Diamond League meeting.

One of those, Pedro Pablo Pichardo’s 18.06m leap in the triple jump, is also an IAAF Diamond League record, joining Yenew Alamirew’s 7:27.26 in the 3000m, which was set in 2011.

All but three of the current women’s meeting records were set during the IAAF Diamond League era. The oldest, Romania’s Ionela Tarlea-Manolache’s 54.27 in the 400m hurdles, dates back to 1999.

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