World champion Hellen Obiri and silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot lead a horde of Kenyans who are on the cusp of clinching the Diamond League trophy in Brussels on Friday.
With the winners of the season’s penultimate stage assured of a wildcard entry to the World Championships, the two hope to kill two birds with one stone: win the five million shillings (50,000 U.S. dollars) bonus and secure Kenya’s team ticket to Doha.
Obiri, who will contest the 5,000m, has already won gold at the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, becoming the first woman in history to win senior world titles indoors, outdoors and in cross country.
Now the Olympic silver medalists have their eyes set on Doha by winning in Brussels.
“I want to have a good season and wrap it up with wins in Brussels ahead of the World Championships in Doha. I already had success in Doha at the start of the season when the Diamond League season got underway in Qatar,” Obiri said on Thursday.
“It was nice to take victory in the stadium which will host the World Championships this year. I’m looking forward to coming back already,” she said.
A win in Doha will be Obiri’s third consecutive Diamond League title in the 5,000m, but to achieve that she will need to defeat two world record-holders: European champion Sifan Hassan, who broke the world mile record earlier this year, and Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, the world record holder in the steeplechase.
Agnes Tirop of Kenya, German record-holder Konstanze Klosterhalfen and African 3,000m record-holder Letesenbet Gidey are also among the title contenders.
For Timothy Cheruiyot, aside from a close runner-up finish in Doha back in May, he has won all of his races across all distances this year.
It is in the 1,500m that he is most dominant, underlined by his world-leading 3:28.77 run in Lausanne and 3:29.97 victory in Monaco, and he is seeking a third consecutive Diamond trophy in Brussels.
In the 3,000m steeplechase, Conseslus Kipruto is not in the same form he was in 12 months ago, when he notably won the Diamond League steeplechase title wearing just one shoe.
He made his season debut in Paris, finishing fifth in 8:13.75, then pulled out of the African Games two days later.
But fortunately for the world and Olympic champion, no one else in this event currently looks unbeatable.
Soufiane El Bakkali is the world leader at 8:04.82 and won in Doha, Monaco and Paris. But the Moroccan was beaten on home soil at the recent African Games by Benjamin Kigen, who has also had some mixed results this year.
The Ethiopian trio of Getnet Wale, Chala Beyo and Lamecha Girma have regularly featured near the front of the leading packs throughout this season, and should once again contend for top honors in Brussels.