It will be another moment of riveting action as Kenyans take to the track to contest for honours at the Memorial Van Damme, the first finale of the Wanda Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium, tonight.
The meet, named after Belgian athlete Ivo Van Damme who died tragically in 1976, will see Kenyan athletes head to King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels to improve their pecking order–right after the 18th World Athletics Championships that concluded in Oregon, USA, in July.
The world’s best athletes line at the Belgian for the final point-scoring opportunity in the 2022 Wanda Diamond League ahead of the series finale in Zurich, Switzerland, next week, and pick bragging rights to 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
The men’s 800m and women’s 100m, for example, pit two world champions against one another. Other disciplines – such as the men’s pole vault, women’s high jump and women’s javelin – feature the full set of medallists from the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
World and Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir leads the loaded 800m field. US-based Korir will take on the two men who joined him on the podium in Oregon: Djamel Sedjati and Marco.
They will also face world 1,500m champion Jake Wightman, world indoor champion Mariano Garcia – the Spaniard who recently beat Wightman to the European title in Munich – and two-time Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal.
In what looks set to be one of the highest-quality two-lap races of the year, the world-leading mark of 1:43.52 – which has stood since mid-June – should come under threat.
High-quality line-ups have been assembled for all of the distance events on Thursday’s programme, not least in the men’s 5000m.
The two men who took surprising victories over 3,000m in Monaco and Stockholm – Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo and South Sudan’s Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu – will line up against world silver medallist Jacob Krop, world bronze medallist Oscar Chelimo of Uganda, world 10,000m bronze medallist Stanley Mburu Waithaka, Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha and US champion Grant Fisher.
But the likes of Winfred Yavi, who won in Paris with 8:56.55 – the fastest time in a Diamond League race this year – and world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech are also in the field, so too are European champion Luiza Gega, Ethiopia’s Zerfe Wondemagegn, 2017 world champion Emma Coburn and US record-holder Courtney Frerichs.
Earlier in the programme, there will be a world record attempt in the men’s one-hour run. Two years since Britains Mo Farah set the current world record of 21,330m on the same track, a field of talented distance runners will attempt to extend that mark.
Former world half marathon record-holder Kibiwott Kandie is perhaps the slight favourite, but also keep an eye on Sebastian Kimaru Sawe, who is undefeated this year with victories of 58:02 at the Rome-Ostia Half Marathon and 59:02 at the Seville Half Marathon. Fellow Kenyan Joshua Belet, a 59:28 half marathon performer, is also in the field, so too is 2021 world U20 5000m bronze medallist Levy Kibet and Australian half marathon record-holder Brett Robinson.