James Magayi @magayijim
The inevitable is happening tonight. The Manangoi brothers of world 1,500m champion Elijah (pictured right) and George will race against each other as the IAAF Diamond League makes its fourth stop in Rome, Italy.
The younger Manangoi (George) followed his elder sibling into the 1,500m race and stormed to the World Under 18 title at Kasarani stadium last July before Elijah made his golden mark in London to win the senior’s equivalent a month later.
Half a year down the line, George has stepped up to senior category and will face Elijah among other world class competitors for precious Diamond League points and the Sh1 million prize money.
The Manangoi’s train under one coach, George Ouma, but have dodged the question of what might transpire when they come face-to-face in a race. The elder miler is favoured to win in Rome but the younger Manangoi cannot be discounted, having shown immense improvement since stepping into senior ranks.
He finished second in the first Diamond League leg this year in Doha and is hungry for qualification points. The brothers will equally be wary of world silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot and Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera who is the reigning World Indoor champion.
Nicholas Bett, 2015 world champion, will make yet another attempt at redemption in the 400m hurdles against a world class cast. After myriads of false starts, Bett will take on, among others, the ‘Viking’, reigning world champion Karsten Warholm of Sweden who is making his debut at the Rome Olympic Stadium.
Hyvin Kyeng, a winner in 2015 before going all the way to win the world title in Beijing later that year, leads a strong cast in the 3,000m steeplechase. She is chasing a second win against reigning world champion Emma Coburn, who starts as the co-favourite.
The race will also feature 2012 Olympic champion Habiba Ghribi and other top Kenyan runners Celliphine Chespol, World Under 20 record holder, Beatrice Chepkoech, who won the Shanghai Diamond League race, and Purity Kirui.
A new Kenyan wave in 800m, represented by Wycliffe Kinyamal and Kipyegon Bett, will come up against talented athletes from all over the world.