NAIROBI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech has called on her fans not to raise their expectations of a fast time at the Shanghai Diamond League on Saturday.
However, Chepkoech maintained she is in good form to fend off any pretenders eyeing her title, which she won in last year's race in Shanghai.
"Training has been good and there are no concerns over fatigue or injury. I just want to test myself and position my season on a high as I start in Shanghai. The season has many events and one is the Shanghai Diamond League, where I hope to win," said Chepkoech.
She destroyed the world record in Monaco last year in 8:44.32, before going on to win the IAAF Diamond League title.
Having finished fourth at the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 World Championships, the Kenyan won the African title last year. More recently, she finished seventh at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
In Shanghai, she will come up against 2015 world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, who has a lifetime best of 9:00.01 at the 2016 Prefontaine Classic. Others opponents include Celliphine Chespol, Norah Jeruto and Daisy Jepkemei.
Chepkoech has shown good recent form, clocking a near personal best time of 8:29.83 over the 3,000m flat race at the Diamond League opener in Doha last week.
On paper, Peruth Chemutai and Winfred Mutile Yavi, with career bests of 9:07.94 and 9:10.74 respectively, appear closest to toppling Chepkeoch. Yavi, still only 19, took a steeplechase/5,000m double win at the Asian Championships last month and was also third in a tactical 1,500m final.
In the men's race, Richard Yator will have fellow Kenyans Nicholas Kipkorir, Stanley Waithaka and Cornelius Kiplangat to help him find the best way ahead of their Ethiopian rivals.
"I have got the endurance and want to launch the campaign with a strong performance. It is the first race for most athletes and many will struggle. Hopefully, I will find the extra strength to edge ahead and win. Shanghai has a good track with fantastic fans to boot. They cheer you along and I intend to exploit these characteristics," said Yator in Nairobi.
Ethiopia's entourage will be led by reigning world indoor and outdoor champions Yomif Kejelcha and Muktar Edris, who will go head-to-head alongside the USA's world and Olympic medalist Paul Chelimo, and Morocco's former world indoor 1,500m champion Abdelaati Iguider.
Add to the picture Selemon Berega, who ran the fastest 5,000m of 2018 to win the super-quick Diamond League final last August, plus fellow Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, who was second in Brussels, and there's quite a race in prospect in Shanghai for China's premier one-day athletics meeting.
"It is not about who we are running against. This year's focus is on the World Championships and Shanghai offers the best platform to gauge our speed and endurance. I am ready for the challenge and I know the Kenyan quartet in the race is strong," added Yator.