Kenyan elite athletes to compete in Oslo Diamond League

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Nairobi, June 15 (IANS) Kenya’s top athletes will leave for the Oslo Diamond League on Thursday, led by Olympic 800 metre bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera Wambui and world 1,500m silver medallist Elijah Manangoi.

Focusing on the London World Championships, the Kenyans will be keen to gauge their preparedness for the global premier athletics championship, reports Xinhua news agency.

Wambui, who is Kenya’s biggest prospect for a medal in London, will be taking on Olympic and world champion Caster Semenya from South Africa in their third meeting this season, as the 14-leg circuit reaches its fifth mark.

“I have been focusing on my endurance, because I have had good runs but lose the steam in the final straight. It will be good to test how it will turn out in Oslo,” Wambui said.

With former world 800m champion Eunice Sum struggling for form, Wambui is keen to fill in her shoes and started her training early in February, but has failed to get the edge over her rivals, Semenya and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, who won silver in the Rio Games.

“My preparations started in February. I wanted to start in December, but I had a small injury to contend with. But it is over now and am focused on the job ahead,” said Wambui.

In the Doha Diamond League meet in May, Semenya and Wambui posted world leads of 1:56.61 and 1:57.03 respectively. But the two must contend with Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, who is also the world 800m silver medallist.

On the other hand, Manangoi will face compatriot and 2011 world 1,500m silver medallist Silas Kiplagat, Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco and Ayanieh Souleiman of Djibouti.

Manangoi opened his season in style, winning his 1,500m race in Doha in 3:31.9, before finishing second in the Bowerman Mile race in 3:49.08 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene Oregon in May this year.

In the steeplechase, women cadre, Commonwealth champion Purity Kurui will take the battle to Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist.

However, the event will be a no show for Olympic champion Ruth Jebet, world champion Hyvin Kiyeng and world junior champion Cellphine Chepsol.

–IANS

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