Focus on Olympics trials as stars post mixed results in Stockholm

Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma (left), Kenyans Wilberforce Chemiat Kones and Lawrence Kemboi Kipsang during the Stockholm Diamond League on Sunday. [AFP]

Sunday night’s Stockholm Diamond League was set to be the stomping ground for Kenyan stars, but mixed results was what was delivered.

Track athletes were keen to prove their point ahead of the national trials for the 2024 Paris Olympics, which will be staged in Nairobi mid this month.

Global athletes also assembled in Stockholm to fire warnings shots ahead of the Olympics in July and August.

Not a big Kenyan contingent was in Stockholm as athletes, who have met Olympic qualifications, chose to prepare for the much-awaited trials.

African bronze medallist Vivian Chebet Kiprotich was in Stockholm, hoping to make a name in the Diamond League circuit.

Chebet took on Great Britain’s Jemma Reekie, a World indoor Silver medallist, in the women’s 800m, and placed second in a time of 1:58.64.

She set out her season with a 1500m season best at the Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour in April, where she ran 1:58.26 before lining up in several races in Europe - competing in France, Poland, and Italy.

In men’s 800m, however, Algeria’s Djamel Sedjati now holds the distance’s world lead after winning in a time of 1:43.23.

Sedjati made a major announcement as he destroyed a strong field, timing 1:43.23, and in the process lowering world silver medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi’s stunning time of 1:43.57.

Former World Under-20 bronze medallist Edinah Jebitok’s 1500m campaign paid off after she came in second behind Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir of Great Britain.

Jebitok had just recorded a disappointing 11th at the Oslo Diamond League on Thursday evening, where she took part in the 3000m, and only her second in the 1500m distance.

Her only other 1500m race this season was at the Kip Keino Classic, where she clocked 4:07.22 for a second place.

Like Jabitok, Muir used the Stockholm Diamond League contest to move her Olympic preparations a gear higher with the glorious victory the women’s 1500m.

The 31-year-old British star, who won in Stockholm in the 2019 and 2020 events, clocked a comfortable 3:57.99 ahead of Kenya's Jebitok - who had a shock personal best of 3:58.88 and confirmed that she was ready to challenge Kenyan stars for the Olympic crown in Paris.

The 22-year-old eighth-placed in world cross-country skiing was third in the 5000m Rabat and only 11th in Oslo over 3000m.

“I have to remember we're only at the start of June and it's about August this year - that's when I need to be as best," Muir said.

"Running like I am now and knowing I have a couple more months of training before the Olympics is very exciting going forward. I'm not doing Rome (EC) because of the championship format and a lot of rounds plus it will be very hot I want to put everything I have into the Olympics."

Three Kenyan men, Lawrence Kemboi, Wilberforce Kones and Wesely Langat, who were looking to stamp authority in 3,000m steeplechase, did not finish the race won by Ethiopian big shot Lamecha Girma.

After Stockholm, the series take a short break and returns on July 7.

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