Kenyan stars to light up Paris meet

By Denis Okeyo: Friday, June 29th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics

A dogfight await as the eternal Kenya and Ethiopia athletic rivalry lights up the seventh stop of the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris tomorrow.

Most of the athletes are out to prove their mettle at the meet as they prepare to do duty for the nation at the 21st Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria, on August 1-5.

World 1,500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot, Commonwealth Games 1,500m silver medalist Beatrice Chepkoech, Commonwealth Games 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist Purity Cherotich and Olympic 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera will no doubt set adrenaline pulse-racing.

Throw in Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist Hyvin Kiyeng, speedster Bethwel Birgen and Celliphine Chespol, the second fastest steeplechaser in history and the light-hearted will tremble inside Charlety Stadium tomorrow.

But the 22-year-old Cheruiyot will certainly stand out as the night’s showstopper. The alumni of Singorwet High School in Bomet County chalked up 1,500m victory in the second leg of the 14-tier series inside Shanghai Stadium and a runner-up in 1,500m in 3:31.22 - the world leading time this season -at the Prefontaine Classic meet in Eugene, Oregon, in USA.

Cheruiyot said: “I want a fast time and I am happy with my performance so far. I’m confident of posting a good show.” He will take on Birgen and Diamond League regular Charles Simotwo.

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He has a leg up, having posted his 800m personal best of 1:44.7 at the Kenya Prisons Service Athletics Championships last week.

Elijah Manangoi, the world 1,500m champion and his training partner, will miss the Paris meet, having lost his sister last week.

Kenyans will be up against strong challengers in Frenchman  Mahidiene Benabad, New Zealand’s Nick Willis Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, Ethiopian trio of Wote Aman, Samuel Tefera and Taresa Tolosa.  

The women’s 3,000m steeplechase promises an explosive battle when Chepkoech, Kiyeng, Chespol Cherotich, former world junior champion Rosefline Chepng’etich and Africa champion Norah Jeruto clash.

On-the-comeback-trail 2013 world 800m champion Eunice Sum will square it out with Nyairera and Emily Cherotich, who won the two-lap race at the national trials last week.

They will take on Caster Semenya of South Africa.