Chepkoech, Tanui lead Kenya quest to Oslo Diamond League

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-10 22:03:52|Editor: ZX
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NAIROBI, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Shanghai Diamond League winner Beatrice Chepkoech will return to action on Thursday in Oslo, Norway as she seeks to improve her season best time to under nine minutes.

Chepkoech, who is the world record holder at 8:44.32, has dominated the water and hurdle race for the last two years and will be keen to race to another world lead time in Norwegian capital against a spirited challenge from her compatriots.

"The season is just gaining momentum and it is important to put some distance between myself and the competitors. Oslo will be another ground for me to prove my fitness with the target this year being to win the World Championships in Qatar," said Chepkoech on Monday.

On her debut this season in China, Chepkoech clocked 9:04.53 for victory ahead of her compatriot and World Junior steeplechase record holder Celliphine Chespol who timed 9:11.10.

Fast-rising Ugandan Peruth Chemutai crossed the line in 9:17.78 to finish third ahead of former Kenyan turned Bahraini Winfred Yavi (9:19.63) while Mercy Chepkorir (9:23.59) finished fifth.

The quintet will converge again in Oslo on Thursday and Chepkoech, who is world top ranked steeplechaser, will hope to repeat Shanghai win.

She takes on 2015 world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, world number two Celliphine Chespol and 2016 African champion Norah Jeruto.

Chepkoech won last year's race when Jeruto slipped and fell in the home straight after the pair had broken free before the final lap.

Bahrain's Asian champion Winfred Yavi, world ranked No.7, and Ugandan teenager Peruth Chemutai, will also be ones to watch as they seek to break up the Kenyan train.

However, America's and World Champion Emma Coburn will also seek to deep under the nine-minute mark.

The Olympic bronze medalist has failed to prove her critics wrong ever since she won in London in 2017 as she has been beaten by East African athletes. But Oslo may offer her the platform to prove those pessimists wrong.

Olympic silver medalist Paul Tanui will run his first track race in Oslo in the men's 3,000m distance.

Tanui won silver in Rio Olympics over the 10,000m race and will be out to test his speed against some fast middle distance athletes led by Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei.

Ethiopians Edris Muktar and Selemon Barega are the favorite.

But the Kenyan says he is eyeing to push his body and make the team to the World Championships and will not shy from the challenge in Oslo, though he will be running a shorter distance.

"There are faster athletes who specializes in 1,500m and the 3,000m distance. But I want to improve my speed and these athletes and race will help me attain that goal," said Tanui.

"Making the final Kenya team to the World Championships is my ultimate goal," he added.