NAIROBI, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- With a prize bonus of 20,000 U.S. dollars and wildcard entries for the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, Kenyan elite runners are itching to live their dreams in the season opener competition in China.
Kenya's steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech will lead a horde of runners to take the World Athletics Indoor Tour as their build-up to the Nanjing event.
Two years after making her indoor debut, Chepkoech will return to indoor racing at the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe on Jan. 31.
"I will be running sparingly in the Diamond League. So I have to compete in the 1,500m race in the indoor circuit because I want to work on my speed. The focus this season is on winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics. But the World Indoor Championships will give a true picture of my preparations for 2020," said Chepkoech on Thursday.
China hopes the best athletes will line up in Nanjing with the two incentives - the prize purse and wild card entries - on offer.
For Chepkoech, her resolve to contest the 1,500m will see her face 2014 world indoor silver medalist, Axumawit Embaye of Ethiopia and 3:58.20 performer Winny Chebet of Kenya.
Spanning four weeks with meetings in six different countries, the World Athletics Indoor Tour will attract some of the world's best athletes eyeing to dominate the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing from March 13-15.
Alongside the 1,500m where Chepkoech will be the lead star, in the hurdles, Nia Ali, the world champion and two-time world indoor champion, will take on Olympic champion Brianna McNeal in the 60m hurdles at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Jan 25. Fellow U.S. sprint hurdler Christina Clemons, the world indoor silver medalist, is also in the field.
In Dusseldorf, three pole vault medalists from World Championships in Doha - Sam Kendricks, Piotr Lisek and Armand Duplantis - will have a rematch on Feb. 4.
In Glasgow, double European indoor champion Laura Muir will hope to break the world indoor 1000m record on Feb. 15.
Lievin in France is the newest addition to the WA Indoor Tour and has attracted four global champions.
The fifth edition of the indoor tour will kick off in Boston (U.S.) on 25 January, with stops in Karlsruhe (Germany) on 31 January, Dusseldorf (Germany) on 4 February, Torun (Poland) on 8 February, Glasgow (Britain) on 15 February, before taking in the newest addition to the circuit, Lievin (France) on 19 February. The final meeting on the World Athletics Indoor Tour will be held in Madrid (Spain) on 21 February.