James Magayi @magayijim
World champion Helen Obiri’s status in women 5,000m will be put to test tonight as the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) athlete battles it out with one of the most decorated female track runners of all-time, Genzebe Dibaba, in the IAAF Diamond League final set for Zurich, Switzerland.
Dibaba outclassed Obiri in the Prefontaine Classic last May clocking 14:26.89 to claim victory in Eugene, Oregon, USA as a freshly crowned Commonwealth Games 5,000m gold medallist struggled for third place in 14:35.03.
Obiri however, turned tables in Morocco with a season’s best time of 14:21.75 to nail first place and confirmed her Diamond League final berth as Dibaba withered to a sixth-place finish.
The Kenyan has gone ahead to add the African Championships gold medal to her growing list of accolades and is angling for memorable hat trick in 2018 with her eyes trained at Diamond Trophy.
“So far I am ticking the boxes I created at the beginning of the year.
I was fortunate to win the Commonwealth Games and now I have the African title.
My final duel will be for the Diamond Trophy and then I close the season.
It is not easy because every good athlete in the world is going for the same so I must be at my very best and pray for good fortune,” Obiri said
Obiri finished first in the qualifiers followed by compatriot and former World Cross Country Champion Agnes Jebet Tirop. Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey and Lilian Kasait placed third and fourth in qualifying with Dibaba coming in fifth.
In 1,500m men final, Timothy Cheruiyot will attempt to upstage his dominant training partner Elijah Manangoi to win the Diamond League rophy. Cheruiyot has impressively won four Diamond League races this year but has a perennial habit of faltering in history defining moments for the benefit of Manangoi.
It would be just for Cheruiyot to lift the trophy after toiling to win four Diamond League races to Manangoi’s one victory in the circuit.
KDF man Charles Simotwo is the third Kenyan in the final that has Eritrea’s Souleiman Ayanleh is the most potent threat and Norwegian Filip Ingebrigtsen. Sadik Mikhou of Bahrain and Ethiopia’s Aman Wote are also in the race.
Heir to Ezekiel Kemboi’s 3,000m Steeplechase crown Conseslus Kipruto is braced for more glory as he heads into the Zurich final as one to beat. Kipruto qualified second for the final behind Kenyan Benjamin Kigen but having won the Commonwealth Games and African Championships already this year, is poised for the lucrative Diamond Trophy.
Besides the top ranked duo, three other Kenyans are in contention for the trophy tonight. Nicholas Kiptanui Bett, Abraham Kibiwot and Amos Kirui qualified seventh, eighth and 10th for the 12-man final.
The second set of 2018 Diamond League finals will be staged in Brussels, Belgium tomorrow night.