James Magayi @magayijim
Winners of the past two IAAF World Championships women 3,000m Steeplechase Hyvin Kiyeng (pictured) of Kenya and Emma Coburn of USA will face-off in Oslo, Norway tonight as the Diamond League makes its fifth stop in the Scandinavian nation.
The affair between Kiyeng and Coburn has always been decided by the last water jump as witnessed in London, United Kingdom when the American dethroned Kiyeng and won the USA a rare steeplechase gold medal.
Last week in Rome, Italy, with Coburn best placed to carry the day, the reigning world champion missed her step in the last water jump and tumbled, allowing Kiyeng to claim victory.
The duo is set to light up the 15,400 capacity Bislett Stadium as they duel for honors in the iconic arena. With Olympic champion Ruth Jebet out of action, supremacy for the women steeplechase is a wrestle between the 1992-born Kiyeng and the American who is two years her senior.
Kiyeng posted 0:04.96 in Rome, a world-leading time and want to keep the pace high heading towards the CAA Africa Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria.
“I’ve started the season as well as I could ask for and now my focus is just to keep my form. Posting the world leading time and beating the meeting record in Rome is a sign of things to come but I know a lot of other competitors are working hard to achieve and I want to keep working hard to maintain my form,” the world bronze medalist said
Coburn, on the other hand, is really confident of her abilities and attributed her fall last week to sheer bad luck. “I don’t think I can learn from the fall. I have done this a million times, I fell and there were a lot of bodies and a lot of chaos. It was just a bad luck day. I have to keep going and keep doing what I do. The focus is on the next race,” Kiyeng said.
Five other Kenyans will back up Kiyeng in the race most if not all, bearing real chances of podium finishes. Caroline Tuigong, Purity Kirui and Daisy Jepkemei will be ones to watch while seasoned rabbit Ann Gathoni will lead the athletes out.
World 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi has a lighter task in the dream mile as his conqueror in Rome Timothy Cheruiyot has given the Bislett Games a wide berth. Manangoi’s biggest challengers tonight are highly rated Ethiopian Teresa Tolosa and former junior champion Kumari Taki with Bethwel Birgen also in the fray.
In the women’s 800m, Nelly Jepkosgei will try her luck against the dominant duo of Castor Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba. Kosgei is the lone Kenyan in the race that will feature American mile runner Laura Muir and Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu.