Nairobi, May 10 (IANS) Double Olympic champion David Rudisha is one of four Kenyan track elites eyeing to dominate at the Shanghai meeting on Saturday as global stars line up in the Chinese city in pursuit of early points in the 14-tier IAAF Diamond League.
The Kenyans, who jetted out Wednesday for Shanghai, will be putting their reputation on the line against a spirited challenge from their rivals as the premier track and field competition gets underway on its second stop after the inaugural round in Doha last Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.
“It’s time again. It is the season opener for me in Shanghai and I love the stadium, the crowd and the challenge,” said Rudisha.
Rudisha, who was fifth on his Shanghai debut 12 months ago, is relishing the chance to make amends as he takes on fellow Kenyan Olympic finalists Ferguson Rotich 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 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase.
Hellen Obiri moved up from 1,500m last year to take the Olympic 5,000m silver medal in Rio Olympics.
In Shanghai, she will face Ethiopians Senbere Teferi and Sofia Assefa, who will be seeking to make their mark in the first women’s 5,000m of the Diamond League season.
Teferi was third in this race in 2015 and fifth in the Olympic final last year, while 2012 Olympic steeplechase silver medalist Assefa will be running her first 5,000m race for 10 years.
The 3,000m 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.
The Bahranian 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 equaled the world U20 record in Doha.
The 18-year-old world U-20 champion was fourth in 9:05:70, and should finish higher than her seventh place in the Shanghai meeting last year.