Kiprop leads Kenyans to lucrative gold hunt
By Gilbert Wandera
The Standard - Kenya
Thursday 8th September 2011
After a brilliant performance in the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Kenyan athletes shift focus on the two remaining Samsung Diamond League series.
The first stop for Kenyan athletes is Thursday’s meeting in Weltklasse, Zurich.
The series end next Friday in Brussels, Belgium, where the winner will be honored with a whooping Sh3.6m cash prize and a spectacular Diamond Race Trophy.
Most Kenyan medal winners from the World Championships did not come back home on Tuesday as they flew directly to Europe from Korea for the Diamond League series.
Double world champion Vivian Cheruiyot will be seeking to complete what has been a great season with a win in Zurich on Thursday in the 5,000m event.
Cheruiyot won the 5,000m and 10,000m races in Korea, becoming the first Kenyan to achieve this feat.
The double world champion has collected 12 points so far in the Diamond League after 12 rounds of running.
Cheruiyot will expect tough competition from Ethiopia’s Meserat Defar, who has collected eight series points.
There is also a strong Kenyan field including Sylvia Jebiwott, a silver medalist at the World Championships in Korea, Mercy Cherono, who finished fifth, Viola Kibiwott and Sally Kipyego.
Asbel Kiprop, who ended Kenya’s wait for a 1,500m world title, is a hot favourite in his specialty.
Kiprop leads in the series on 11 points and will fight it out with Sudanese Kaki Abubakar who won silver in the men’s 800m event at the World event.
Apart from Kiprop other Kenyans lining up in Zurich are Chepseba Nixon who has collected four points in the series, Augustine Choge and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen.
Janeth Jepkosgei, a bronze medalist at the World Championships will renew her rivalry with South African Caster Semenya in the women’s 800m event.
3,000m steeple-chase world champion Ezekiel Kemboi will be the main attraction in the water and hurdle event.
Kemboi is ranked third in the series on eight points after 12 races.
Another Kenyan Paul Kipsiele Koech is however favorite to win the race as he leads the series on 13 points.
It is an almost full house in the Kenyan specialty.
Apart from Kemboi and Koech other local athletes in the race are Richard Maatelong, Patrick Kipkurui and Abraham Chirchir.
Maatelong who captained the Kenyan team to Korea will be attempting to make up for a poor performance in the world event where he finished a disappointing seventh.
Kenyan Milcah Chemos has already won in the women 3,000m steeple-chase and will take part in the final round of the series on September 16 in Brussels.
Even with two races remaining there is still plenty opportunity for athletes to advance, as in the Finals the points are doubled, and the athlete with the highest number of points in each event discipline wins the Diamond Race.
Meanwhile, 2,000 athletes including 300 elite runners have already registered for the annual Mwea Marathon to be held this Saturday at Mwea Boys High School in Mwea, adds Erick Ochieng’.
The organiers said they are expecting a 1000 more athletes before the close of registration period on Friday.
Categories to be contested in the lucrative race include the full, half and10km races.
The aim of the race is to nurture sports and education talents in Mwea region.
"The proceeds of the race will be used to improve education facilities in the area," said former Olympian relay champion Robert Ouko who is the race Technical Director.
Ouko added that adjustments had been made to the route and 108 technical assistants have been employed to aid in the race.