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Olympic champ Kipruto to launch season at Monaco Diamond League

Last updated 20 days ago | By Xinhua

Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto (L) and Kenya's Benjamin Kigen complete the Men's 3000m steeplechase race heats at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on October 1, 2019.

Olympic and world 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto has confirmed he will make his season debut at the Monaco Diamond League on Aug. 14.

The 25-year-old will be among a horde of competition starved athletes from Kenya to run in a competitive race for the first time in almost nine months as sports events return after lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Speaking from Eldoret on Tuesday, Kipruto said he will be out gunning for a fast time.

"I am ready. Monaco here I come. It will be fired on Aug. 14," Kipruto told Xinhua.

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However, despite receiving an official invite to compete in Monaco, Kipruto is praying the Kenya government gets the clearance from the European Union to be able to travel to Monaco.

The EU has listed Rwanda, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as the only countries from Africa whose citizens are allowed to enter their region from July 1.

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"Travel restrictions should be lifted for countries listed in the recommendation, with this list being reviewed and, as the case may be, updated every two weeks," EU said in a statement on July 1.

However, Kipruto said he is hopeful Athletics Kenya and Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs will secure a special exemption for athletes as they seek to restart their season.

"I know the organizers of the race in Monaco and Athletics Kenya are in negotiation in regard to overcoming the travel challenge. We might be forced to take COVID-19 tests and be given certificates to confirm our status before traveling," Kipruto said.

Kipruto won gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, 2017 and 2019 World Championships. He also won the World Youth and in 2012 the World Junior titles in the steeplechase.

His win in Doha World championships was his fourth successive medal - after silvers in 2013 and 2015 - and it came at the end of an injury-ravaged season due to a stress fracture on his foot, which saw him fail to win a single steeplechase at the Diamond League.

Kipruto, however, said he expects a stiff challenge from Ethiopian Lamecha Girma, who pushed him all the way in the 2019 World Championships and last year's world leader Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco.

"We have rested a long time and everyone is itching to get out and run. Expect some fast times. For me, with no Olympics or the World Championships, I believe this is the year to run under eight minutes. Later we may talk about the world record," Kipruto added.

Qatari Saif Saeed Shaheen holds the world record at 7:53.63 with Kipruto's best time being 8:00.12.

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