World 3,000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech will headline a strong field of 17 runners as battle for the IAAF Diamond League points heads to Oslo, Norway tonight.
The Oslo leg comes on the back of a poor showing from Kenyans in last week’s meeting in Rome where Kenya bagged just one win, courtesy of Benjamin Kigen’s heroics in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, a non-scoring event in the Italian capital.
Chepkoech, who already started off her season with an impressive 9:04.53 win in Shanghai, will face stiff competition in the series’ fifth edition from rival and world champion Emma Coburn who will be making her first appearance this season.
In breaking the world record in Monaco last year, Chepkoech set a time of 8:44.32 while Coburn’s world championship winning time in 2017 is 9:02.58 making the Kenyan the fastest on the field.
Additionally, Chepkoech’s season opening time in Shanghai is the eighth fastest over the distance. Four of the seven women who have bettered that time will line up against the 27-year-old in Oslo. The four include Coburn, Norah Jeruto, Celliphine Chespol and Hyvin Kiyeng.
Jeruto and Chespol are also names to watch, having joined Chepkoech and others in the sub-nine category with a 8:59.62 performance in Brussels last year for the former and 8:58.78 in Eugene for the latter in 2017.
The two also started their season this year with 9:11.10 for a second place finish in Shanghai for Chespol and 9:12.99 for Jeruto in Rehlingen, Germany.
On her part, Kiyeng who is making her season appearance in steeplechase has a personal best time of 9:00.01 run in Eugene in 2016.
Also to be noted is Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai who finished third in Shanghai behind Chepkoech and Chespol in 9:17.78.
Other Kenyans in the race include Daisy Jepkemei who has run in Rehlingen this year, Fancy Cherono who was in Shanghai and Caroline Tuigong who raced in Rehlingen but was unable to finish her first Diamond League race this season in Shanghai. Other Kenyans in Oslo are Cornelius Tuwei (men’s 800m) who finished sixth in Doha in a time of 1:45.39.
In the absence of Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margret Nyairera in the women’s distance, it will be interesting to see who carries the day.
The 3,000m men’s race will see Ethiopia sensation Selemon Barega up against a field that has Kenyans Cornelius Kangogo, Nicholas Kipkorir, Davis Kiplagat and 5,000m specialist Paul Tanui. World cross-country champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda will also light up the field.