Diamond League: Winners set to pocket Sh5 million

By Dennis Okeyo and IAAF: Friday, September 6th 2019 at 08:06 GMT +3 | Athletics
Kenya's Timothy Cheruiyot celebrates as he crosses the finish line and wins the Men's 1500m during the IAAF Diamond League competition on July 12, 2019, in Monaco (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

After four months of high-octane action, 12 enthralling qualifying meetings and 16 newly-crowned champions in Zurich last week, the 2019 IAAF Diamond League now boils down to the AG Memorial van Damme in Brussels today.

The meeting in Belgium is the second final in the series, which will see another 16 winners crowned.

World champion Hellen Obiri and Timothy Cheruiyot will be targeting a third consecutive Diamond League title in the 5000m and 1500m respectively.

However, Obiri has a difficult task ahead as she takes on European champion Sifan Hassan, who broke the world mile record earlier this year and her fellow countrywomen Beatrice Chepkoech, the world record-holder in steeplechase who are both in the field.

Agnes Tirop, who beat Obiri over 5000m in Stockholm and over 10,000m at the Kenyan Championships, is also a big contender. Cheruiyot has won all of his races across all distances this year. It is the 1500m in which he is most dominant, underlined by his world-leading 3:28.77 run in Lausanne and 3:29.97 victory in Monaco, and he is seeking a third consecutive Diamond Trophy in Brussels.

World 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi will miss out after sustaining ankle injury in training.

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“I know the battle will be hard, but I am mentally prepared for the finals. I hope I will be able to win my third trophy,” said Cheruiyot, who is also the world 1500m silver medallist.

Conseslus Kipruto isn’t in quite the same form he was in 12 months ago when he won the Diamond League steeplechase title wearing just one shoe.

He made his season debut in Paris with a 8:13.75 clocking for fifth place, then pulled out midway through the race at African Games two days later. But fortunately for the world and Olympic champion, no one else in this event currently looks unbeatable.

Soufiane El Bakkali is the world leader at 8:04.82 and won in Doha, Monaco and Paris. But the Moroccan was beaten on home soil at the recent African Games by Benjamin Kigen, who has also had some mixed results this year. The Ethiopian trio of Getnet Wale, Chala Beyo and Lamecha Girma have regularly featured near the front of the leading packs throughout this season and should once again contend for a top placing in Brussels.

Meanwhile, top sprinters are often accused of avoiding one another outside of major championships, but many of the fields in Brussels are brimming with the world’s best talent at the shorter distances.

Fred Kerley and Michael Norman haven’t raced at all since the US Championships six weeks ago, where Kerley pulled off a surprise victory, clocking a PB of 43.64 to finish 0.15 ahead of Norman, the world leader.

Norman hinted afterwards that he had been carrying a niggling injury into that race, but the recent break from the competition will hopefully mean he arrives in Brussels in good form.

Jamaica’s multiple world and Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has looked untouchable in almost all of her IAAF Diamond League 100m appearances this year.

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