Hellen Obiri, Beatrice Chepkoech, Conseslus Kipruto and Timothy Cheruiyot will return to action tomorrow in the city where they won world titles last year - Doha - for the last meeting in this season’s Wanda Diamond League (WDL).
The coronavirus pandemic has caused the first Diamond League programme under its new sponsors to be radically re-shaped, and the venue that has traditionally hosted the first meeting of the season will see Kenya’s four Doha gold medallists testing themselves over relatively unfamiliar distances at the Qatar Sports Club venue.
Obiri, the world 5000 metres champion, will face a stellar field in the concluding event of the women’s 3000 metres, with challengers including Chepkoech, the world champion and record holder for the 3000m steeplechase.
They are two of five medallists from four different disciplines at the Doha World Championships who will be taking part in the race, with the others being two other Kenyans – 5000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi and 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop – and one Ethiopian in 1500m bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegay.
Obiri tops this year’s 5000m list with the 14 minutes 22.12sec she ran in the opening WDL meeting of the season in Monaco on August 14.
Chepkoech ran 14:55.01 in that Monaco 5000m, and on September 13 she finished second in the 3000m steeplechase at the Berlin ISTAF meeting in 9minutes 10.07sec.
Other top drawer runners in the women’s 3000m include Kenya’s 2015 world steeplechase champion Hyvin Kiyeng and world under-20 champion Beatrice Chebet, and Britain’s European 5000m silver medallist Eilish McColgan and European 1500m bronze medallist Laura Weightman.
World and Olympic steeplechase champion Kipruto will make his season debut in what will be his first 1500m race in five years.
The 25-year-old Kenyan will be joined by his two fellow medallists from last year’s World Championships, Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma and Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, who have set personal bests this year of 3minutes 35.67sec and 3:34.51 respectively.
The field also includes Ethiopia’s 20-year-old Selemon Barega, the world 5000 metres silver medallist, and Australia’s Stewart McSweyn, fresh from setting an Oceanian 3000m record in Rome, has the fastest season’s best of the field (3:31.48) and will be a formidable opponent.
"I chose to do the 800m here because I wanted to test my speed endurance. [...]— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) September 24, 2020
I know I have endurance but I'm lacking a bit in my finishing speed, so that's what I want to work on." – @tim_cheruiyot
More ahead of @dldoha tomorrow 👇
📰: https://t.co/ljB2jLAA9N pic.twitter.com/jDtywKAkPW
Meanwhile Cheruiyot, the world 1500 metres champion, is moving down to the 800 metres.
"I chose to do the 800m here because I wanted to test my speed endurance,” the Kenyan, who has been unbeaten since May 2019, told WDL in a press conference today.
“I know I have endurance but I'm lacking a bit in my finishing speed, so that's what I want to work on."
His opponents will include Kenya’s world 800m bronze medallist Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich and the man who finished one place behind him in Doha, Bryce Hoppel of the United States, who has the second fastest 2020 time of 1minute 43.23sec to his credit.
Also in the mix will be Britain’s 2016 European bronze medallist Elliott Giles, who ran a personal best of 1:44.68 in Marseille on September 3.
Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, who added to the world pole vault record of 6.18 metres he set indoors earlier this year by clearing a world outdoor best of 6.15m at the last WDL meeting in Rome last Thursday (September 17), will make the last competitive outing of a year in which he has been unbeaten.
The 20-year-old Swede’s opponents will include France’s 33-year-old former world record holder Renaud Lavillenie and the double world champion from the United States, Sam Kendricks.
And the latter is well aware of the magnitude of the task facing himself.
"If you want to play this game, especially against Mondo, you've got to be ready to play harder than anybody in history," Kendricks said.
Kenya’s Olympic 1500 metres champion Faith Kipyegon is following the trend by moving to a less familiar distance in Doha.
Kipyegon, who has recently fallen marginally short of the world 1000 metres record on two occasions, will contest her first 800 metres for five years against a field that includes her compatriot Eunice Sum, the 2013 world champion.
Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah and multiple world medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou will renew their rivalry over 100 metres.
“We all got a chance this year to reset, re-focus and work on our weaknesses,” said Thompson-Herah, who added that she was nevertheless “a little surprised” at running 10.85sec, the fastest time of the season, in winning the 100 metres in Rome.
“Initially I was a little bit surprised because I hadn’t raced for two weeks or more, but I knew that I was capable of running fast, although not 10.85 as I had been putting in the work and I got the result.”
Ta Lou followed the Jamaican home in Rome in a season’s best of 11.14sec.