NAIROBI, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- World 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi has confirmed he is focused on competing at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham in March.
However, Manangoi will face stiff challenge from last year's IAAF indoor circuit winner Bethwel Birgen and former world 1,500m silver medallist Silas Kiplagat.
Kenya intends to send a bigger team to the world indoor championships and will be cashing on the new qualification system, which sees all winners of the IAAF Indoor Circuit gaining automatic entry to the World Indoor Championships.
"I want to do well in the indoor circuit before focusing on the outdoor competition. The Commonwealth Games are in April while the IAAF Diamond League does start in May. I will have enough time to recover," said Manangoi.
To launch his indoor circuit, Manangoi will be competing in Dusseldorf on Feb. 6, which is part of the IAAF World Indoor Tour. Manangoi will start off against U23 European champion Marius Probst and Czech European indoor champion 2015 Jakub Holusa. Last year, Birgen was second in Desseldorf.
Others who have confirmed participation are Pamela Dutkiewicz in 60m hurdles.
"The track in Dusseldorf is very fast. Was here third this year, hopefully I can improve in 2018," she said. But she will have it tough at 60m hurdles against Olympic medalist Nia Ali, European indoor champion Alina Talay and German star Cindy Roleder.
Kenya's Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon and world 5,000m champion Helen Obiri are also keen to compete in Birmingham in march.
Kipyegon, who is yet to start her season, since her triumph over South African caster Semenya in London world championships in August, has been in training and will focus on cross country before moving to the indoor competition.
For Obiri, it is her urge to recapture the world indoor title that is inspiring her. She won the 2012 title in the 3,000 meters and together with compatriot Bethwel Birgen, the duo were awarded direct entry to next year's World Indoor Championships set for Birmingham.
The two Kenyans were among 11 athletes to be given wild cards by IAAF following their victories in 2017 World Indoor Tour Series. Obiri and Birgen, who won the 3,000m and 1,500m series, also received a bonus of Sh2 million ($20,000) each.
Obiri won this year's New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in USA and Müller Indoor Grand Prix Birmingham, besides finishing second in Karlsruhe, Germany.