Diamond League: Mouth-watering clashes await at historic Olympic Stadium tomorrow

By Jonathan KOmen in Rome, Italy: Wednesday, June 7th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Ezekiel Kemboi (left) and Conseslus Kiproto competes in 3000m steeplechase semi-finals during the National Olympics Trials on June 30,2016 at kipchoge Stadium, Eldoret.[PHOTO:DENNIS OKEYO/STANDARD]

Kemboi to do battle in Rome: Steeplechase great Kemboi returns to test might of Kipruto, Birech with eye on Mekhissi-Benabbad

Steeplechase great Kemboi returns to test might of Kipruto and Birech with eye on Mekhissi-Benabbad.

Jonathan Komen in Rome, Italy

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Steeplechase great Ezekiel Kemboi returns to the track tomorrow in Rome, Italy, in his stated quest to continue racing until he evens things out with Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, who denied him an Olympic bronze in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Kemboi, 35, announced he was retiring after he missed out on the bronze when he was adjudged to have stepped out of the track as they dashed for the finish line with Mekhissi-Benabbad.

The Frenchman was awarded the bronze, prompting the never-say-die Kemboi to shelve retirement plans.

On Thursday, on the hallowed track of Rome Olympic Stadium where Moses Kiptanui’s blew away a strong 5,000m field on June 8, 1995 to set the world record at 12:55.30, Kemboi will line up against his already enthroned successor, 2016 Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto.

Kemboi, a four-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion will also contend with yet another protagonist, the 2016 IAAF Diamond League Trophy winner Jairus Kipchoge Birech. Clement Kemboi, Amos Kirui and America’s Hillary Bor will spice up the line-up.

Although the prize will not be a thoroughbred horse like Kiptauni carted away in 1995, tomorrow night’s battle in IAAF Diamond League, the battle will be gauge for the upcoming World Championships in London this August.

The Rome contest will also serve as a major test for world javelin champion Julius Yego, who will once again take on Olympic champions Keshorn Walcott (London 2012) and Thomas Rohler (2016 Rio Olympics), former world champion Vitezslav Vesely and bronze medallist Tero Pitkamaki in the IAAF track and field meet.

Yego, an alumnus of Kapsabet Boys High School, seem to follow in the counsel of American author Les Brown: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will still land among the stars.”

“I am picking on slowly. But I hope to have reached my top form by next month so that I strive to defend my title in London,” said Yego.

Three-time world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop will not compete as he will line up in Oslo next week on Thursday, where he will gun for his sixth win at the meet.

Fireworks are expected in men’s 3,000m steeplechase and women’s 5,000m battle, where Ethiopia’s track assassin Genzebe Dibaba targets to attack the world 5,000m record of 14:11.15 held by her elder sister Tirunesh Dibaba.

Genzebe, who trains under Dutch manager Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communications, has 14:15.14 best mark and will be up against Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri (14:22.47) and world cross country champions Irene Chebet Cheptai (2017 in Kampala) and Agnes Tirop (2015, Guiyang in China).

New entrant Sheila Chelang’at (15:46.0), Margaret Jelimo (15:07.56) as well as Ethiopia’s Gidey Letesenbet (14:36.84) and Tesfaye Haftamnesh (15:10.85) are also in the mix.

But the clash between world junior 800m champion Kipyegon Bett, Ferguson Rotich and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nijel Amos in the two-lap race remains the show-stopper.

It’s a defining moment as Kipyegon, Rotich, Amos and Alfred Kipketer have all managed to beat world 800m record holder David Rudisha.

World 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi, Job Kinyor and Adam Kszczot of Poland are also in contention.

Former world junior 800m silver medallist Winny Chebet and Nelly Jepkosgei will lead the 1,500m line up against Dutch’s Sifan Hassan.

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