The long wait is almost over. The global stars will gather at newly refurbished Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday; all ready to clash in the most spectacular fashion imaginable.
Kenyan stars led by world champions Hellen Obiri (5000m), Conseslus Kipruto (3000m steeplechase) and Timothy Cheruiyot (1500m) are expected to put smiles on the faces of Kenyans.
Kenya’s archrivals, Uganda and Ethiopia, will be itching to pull a fast one on the hosts’ sons and daughters as Africa sets to stage its first global athletics contest this year.
Here, Standard Sports, takes a look at the stars to watch inside Kenya’s second-biggest sports cathedral on Saturday.
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He’s the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion. He was ready for the first leg of Diamond League in Monaco last month only to test positive for COVID-19. He took part in 1,500m at Doha Diamond League but did not finish the race. Kipruto whetted fans’ appetite when he posted on his Instagram page that “See you at the Kip Keino Classic.”
The Kip Keino Classic will reveal how far he has healed from the COVID-19 virus. He is also keen on defending his title at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games.
Kipruto has a personal best of 8:00.12 minutes set inside Alexander Stadium in Birmingham in 2016.
He won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games World Championship titles in 2017 and 2019. In 2012, he clinched the World Youth title (2011) in Lille and the World Junior titles in the steeplechase in Barcelona.
Kenyan fans are looking forward to a thrilling show and ultimately a win from the World 1500m champion.
Cheruiyot ran a world lead time of 3:28.45 at the Monaco Diamond League in August.
At the Stockholm Diamond League, he timed 3:30.25. Cheruiyot hopes to end this season on a high note.
The last time he competed at Nyayo National Stadium was in June during the virtual Impossible Games where Team Cheruiyot lost to team Ingebrigsten of Norway in a 2000m race.
He placed eighth in 800m at the Doha Diamond League last week.
Rotich, who is fresh from winning the 800m at the Doha Diamond League in a time of 1:44.16 is expected to end the season on high note on Saturday.
He started off poorly at the Monaco Diamond League, but ended impressively in Doha.
In 2015, the world bronze medallist shocked world record holder David Rudisha in the 800 metres beating him by almost half a second to qualify for the 2015 World Championships in Athletics at the 2015 Athletics World Championship Trials.
He represented Kenya at the 2013 World Championships and was a gold medallist in the 4×800 metres relay at the 2014 IAAF World Relays.
Trained by the revered Bro Colm O’Connell in Iten. Kipruto, 20, kicked off the 2020 season in spectacular fashion by smashing the 10k world record at the Valencia Ibercaja in a time of 26:24. The previous world record of 26:38 had just been set by Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei.
On 10 July 2018, he won the World U20 Championship title in the 10,000m, clocking 27:21.08, a new championship record.
Obiri sprinted to a 3000m victory at the Doha Diamond League last Friday in a Kenyan clean podium sweep. Kenyan women Agnes Tirop, Beatrice Chepkoech, Margaret Chelimo and Hyvin Kiyeng settled on the first five places.
Born on December 13, 1989, Obiri is the current 5000 metres world champion.
She won the 2017 World Championships in London and successfully defended the title in 2019 in Doha, setting a new championship record.
Obiri is also the silver medalist from the 2016 Summer Olympics over the same distance (5000 metres).
On March 30, 2019 she won the women’s senior race (10.2 km) at the IAAF World Cross Country Championship in Aarhus, Denmark timing 36:14.
She was born on July 6, 1991.
Chepkoech is the current world record holder in that event running 8:44.32 in 2018. With that time she became the first woman to break 8:50 and 8:45.
She was also a bronze medallist over 1500 metres at the 2015 African Games.
Chepkoech began her career in road running, taking top three placings in 2014 at several low level races in Germany and the Netherlands before switching to track in 2015.
Last year, she competed in the senior women’s race at the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships held in Aarhus, Denmark. She finished 7th.
She is the African champion in 1500m, after clocking 4:20.67 in 2018 in Asaba, Nigeria.
She represented Kenya at the 2013 World Championships reaching the semifinals.
In addition she won silver medals at the 2006 World Junior Championships and 2005 World Youth Championships.
Her personal best in the 800 metres is 1:59.30 from 2013.
Rodgers Mike 200m (USA)
Rodgers attended Berkeley High School in St Louis, Missouri where he competed on the track and played varsity basketball for the Bulldogs. Later attended Lindenwood University and Oklahoma Baptist University where he was a 10-time NAIA national champion from 2005 to 2007. Rodgers still holds the NAIA Indoor 60m record in 6.65.
In 60 metres, he became the 2008 US Indoor champion and went on to finish fourth at the 2008 World Indoor Championships. In 100 metres, he finished sixth at the 2008 World Athletics Final.
The start of the 2009 outdoor season saw Rodgers improve on his 100 and 200 metres personal bests at the Grande Prêmio Brasil Caixa meet in May where he recorded times of 10.01 and 20.24 seconds respectively.
Selemon Berega (Ethiopia)
Selemon Barega Shirtaga (born on January 20, 2000) is an Ethiopian athlete, who competes in 5000 metres. He made the national team at the 2017 World Championships finishing fifth in finals. He also won gold at the 2016 World U20 Championships and 2017 World U18 Championships. He won a silver in the men’s 5000 metres at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia)
Born in the Tigray region, he took up running seriously in 2010. He came sixth in the 5000 metres at the 2011 Ethiopian National Championships and was selected to compete in 3000 metres at that year’s World Youth Championships, where he finished fifth with a time of 7:45.11 minutes.
Winnie Nanyondo (Uganda)
She was born on August 23, 1993 in Mulago in Uganda. She has represented Uganda in several international events including the 2016 Olympics, the 2014 World University Cross Country Championships, the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2013 Summer Universiade, and the 2012 World Junior Championships in Athletics.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, Nanyondo won a bronze in 800m behind Eunice Sum and Lynsey Sharp of Scotland.
At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she did not advance out of the first round in 800m.
She is an industrial art and design student at Kampala University.
Eunice Sum (800m)
She faced huge challenges after completing Form Four at Moi University Kesses Secondary School in 2008.
Sum, a cousin of 2007 world 800m champion Alfred Kirwa Yego, gave birth to her daughter Diana Jeruto in 2010.
But she had to wait for her Hollywood script until 2013 during the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia, at Luzhniki Stadium, where she beat homegirl and then world champion Maria Sanivova to win the gold medal. That saw Kenya sit pretty on the fourth place in the medal standings.