Kenya’s dominance in steeplechase looks like a thing of the past at the moment and as athletes line up in the Rome Diamond League race today, world champion over the distance Conseslus Kipruto will be hoping to give Kenyans some hope.
Morocco’s Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali and silver medallist Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma have been the dominant force over the water and barriers race in the last couple of years, but with Kipruto managing to finish in fourth place in Rabat last weekend in what was his first outing this year, there is some hope for Kenya ahead of the World Championships.
Kipruto had competed at the KipKeino Classic in Nairobi last month, but did not finish the race.
Once again Kipruto will be up against Girma, the man he beat by the thickness a vest at the 2019 World Championships and Ethiopia’s Olympic fourth-place finisher Getnet Wale.
Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwott will also be in the mix.
In women 800m race, Mary Moraa will be hoping to continue from where she left off in Rabat.
She will however not have it easy as she will face Jamaica Nataya Goule and Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza in a race that will see Olympic champion Athing Mu renew her rivalry with Tokyo silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson.
World champion over the distance Uganda’s Halima Nakaayi will also be hoping to show that her win at the global event in 2019 was not a fluke by beating the strong 800m field in Rome.
Meanwhile, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shaunae Miller-Uibo are among the individual Olympic gold medallists from Tokyo who will aim to reign supreme in Rome.
As the fifth meeting in this season’s Diamond League, the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea takes place just five weeks out from the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Two of those reigning Olympic champions go head-to-head in the women’s 200m. Jamaican sprint star Thompson-Herah completed a sprint treble in Tokyo, winning the 100m and 200m as well as the 4x100m, while Miller-Uibo claimed the 400m crown.
Now they meet as part of a stacked field for the half-lap event, lining up alongside US sprint legend Allyson Felix, Britain’s world champion Dina Asher-Smith, Jamaica’s Olympic 100m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, world indoor 60m champion Mujinga Kambundji, Ivory Coast’s multiple world medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, Britain’s Beth Dobbin and Italy’s Dalia Kaddari.
Thompson-Herah ran a couple of 200m races in Kingston in May but has focused on the 100m in international competition so far this season, clocking 10.79 at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene at the end of last month and 10.83 to win in Rabat.
Miller-Uibo, meanwhile, races her first half-lap of the season after clocking 49.91 for 400m in April and then finishing third in Doha. When it comes to head-to-heads, Miller-Uibo leads their 200m outdoor final career clashes 5-1, but Thompson-Herah’s one win came on the biggest stage – at the Olympics in Tokyo.
USA’s Mu is also just getting her season started and after a win in Texas in April, she races her first international 800m of the year in Rome. Such is the standard, four of the entrants have PBs under 1:57 and eight have broken the two-minute barrier this season.
In the 1.500m, Reekie’s fellow Briton and training partner Laura Muir – who secured Olympic silver behind Faith Kipyegon in Tokyo – will look to build on her victory in Birmingham.