Double Olympic champion David Rudisha is one of four Kenyan track stars set to take centre stage at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on Saturday (13) when many of the world’s greatest athletes will be in pursuit of early season IAAF Diamond League points.
Rudisha was fifth on his Shanghai debut 12 months ago and the 800m world record-holder is relishing the chance to make amends as he takes on fellow Kenyan Olympic finalists Ferguson Cheruiyot and Alfred Kipketer, plus Polish pair Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski.
While Rudisha finished out of the points 12 months ago, compatriot Faith Kipyegon broke the Kenyan record to win the women’s 1500m and went on to win Olympic gold in Rio. On Saturday Kipyegon will face Olympic finalists Dawit Seyaum and Besu Sado of Ethiopia.
Two other top-class Kenyans lead the fields for the women’s 5000m and 3000m steeplechase.
Hellen Obiri moved up from 1500m last year to take the Olympic 5000m silver medal in Rio. On Saturday she will face Senbere Teferi and Sofia Assefa, who will be seeking to make their mark in the first women’s 5000m of the IAAF Diamond League season.
Teferi was third in this race in 2015 and fifth in the Olympic final last year, while 2012 Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Assefa will be running her first 5000m race for 10 years.
The 3000m steeplechase isn’t weakened by Assefa’s absence as it features Kenya’s world champion Hyvin Kiyeng against Bahrain’s Olympic champion and world record-holder Ruth Jebet.
Jebet eclipsed her own Asian record to win Olympic gold in Rio and went on to run nearly seven seconds quicker in Paris two weeks later when she destroyed the world record with a time of 8:52.78.
But it was Kiyeng who came out on top in their first clash of 2017 when she ran the fastest time in the world this year to win in Doha last Friday. Kiyeng was more than a second and a half ahead of the rest in 9:00:12 while Jebet was third.
Celliphine Chespol will also come to Shanghai full of confidence after she equalled the world U20 record in Doha. The 18-year-old world U20 champion was fourth in 9:05:70, and should finish higher than her seventh place in the Shanghai meeting last year.