By AYUMBA AYODI
Moment of glory beckons for Kenyans Eunice Sum and Jairus Birech as they go for the final leg of the 2014 Diamond League Series on Friday in Brussels.
Sum, who has won three major 800m titles in the last one year and Birech, the Africa 3,000m steeplechase champion, must compete in their respective events to be able to lift the Diamond League trophy and a bonus of Sh3.5m each.
Sum and Birech have been phenomenal this season. Sum – who holds the World, Commonwealth Games and Africa titles – has won four events in this year’s Series while Birech has been in a class of his own, gliding to five victories in as many races.
Commonwealth Games and African 5,000m champion Caleb Mwangangi is the other Kenyan set to be awarded a Diamond Trophy and the Sh3.5m after his victory in the last of the 5,000m event in Zurich Thursday last week.
The 26-year-old Sum has not let her foot off the gas pedal since stunning the world to win the World title in August last year in Moscow.
Sum defeated Olympic champion and home favourite Mariya Savinova to win a surprise 800m gold for Kenya in a Personal Best time of 1:57.38.
Sum eased to the Commonwealth Games title in July this year in Glasgow after clocking 2:00.31 before going for the African title in Marrakech in 1:59.45.
In the Diamond League Series, the 26-year-old launched her quest in Doha in May where she won in 1:59.33 before clocking a triumphant 1:59.49 in Rome in June. She then set her season’s best of 1:59.02 in Oslo in June before winning in Lausanne with an improved season’s best of 1:58.48.
The world champion has only lost twice in the last one year – coming second to American Ajee Wilson in Monaco in July and Lynsey Sharp in Birmingham in August – but the results were enough to put her in line for her maiden Diamond League series victory.
Sum will once again face Wilson and Sharp in this final event before turning focus on the World Cup due September 12 to 13 in Marrakech.
METEROIC BIRECH SET TO ROAR
The steeplechase field belongs to Birech since Olympic and World champion Ezekiel Kemboi won in Doha in a World Lead time of 8:04.12. Birech, who won silver at Glasgow Commonwealth Games before going for the Africa title in Marrakech, won in Rome, Oslo (World Lead 8:02.37), Lausanne, Monaco and Birmingham.
But Birech has a battle at hand as he faces Kemboi, 2012 London and 2008 Beijing Olympics silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi Benabbad from France, World silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto and 2008 Beijing Olympics champion Brimin Kipruto. Also in the mix is the 2011 Diamond League Series winner Paul Kipsiele Koech.
Men’s 1,500m race is open with Series leader Silas Kiplagat (12), Asbel Kiprop (11) and Souleiman Ayanleh (9) from Djibouti battling for the coveted trophy and bonus. Kiplkagat won in Rome, Glasgow and Monaco while Ayanleh secured victories in Eugene and Oslo.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke