By AYUMBA AYODI
World and Commonwealth 800m champion Eunice Sum goes for a hat trick of wins today when she runs in the women’s two-lap race at the Birmingham Diamond League leg.
Sum has so far won two races, Shanghai and the Prefontaine Classic, making her strong favourite in the English city.
However, Kenyan men will be eying their maiden 800m victory at this year’s Diamond League after flopping in Doha, Prefontaine and Rome.
Job Kinyor, who ran a personal best in Rome and Sammy Tangui are the country’s flag bearer in the two-lap race.
Kenyans will also race in men’s 1,500m with Commonwealth Games champion James Magut leading the charge. Compatriots Hillary Cheruiyot, Vincent Kibet and Reuben Bett will also be eyeing glory.
No Kenyan is in the women’s 1,500m but both All Africa Games champion Hyvin Kiyeng and Virginia Nyambura are eying their second victories each after prevailing in Rome and Doha respectively in women’s 3,000m steeplechase.
World 5,000m bronze medallist Isaiah Kiplagat, 2012 London Olympics 5,000m bronze Thomas Longosiwa and 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallists Edwin Soi are still waiting for their first wins this season as they compete in men’s 5,000m. Sum could have won easily at Shanghai but she is not guaranteed victory at Birmingham especially after she was stretched by the 2012 world junior champion Ajee Wilson from the USA.
Sum, who is also the Africa champion, and Wilson came home clear of their rivals. But Sum, fresh from winning in Shanghai in 2:00.28, just held off the American and to win in a world lead time of 1:57.82. Wilson was just 0.2 away from her personal best in second place with 1:57.87.
Sum will come up against 2009 World 800m bronze medallist Malika Akkaoui from Morocco and Polish Angelika Cichocka.
In men;s 800m, Kinyor finished third in 1:43.92 in Rome behind world champion Aman Mohammed in a world lead of 1:43.56. Kinyor had finished sixth in the Doha race won by world indoor 1,500m champion Ayanleh Souleiman in 1:43.78.
The Kenyans will face Nijel, the 2012 London Olympics 800m silver medallist and the 2012 London Olympics 1,500m winner Taoufik Makhloufi from Algeria.
Magut has not fared well in the 1,500m, after finishing sixth in 3:35.91in Shanghai where Cheruiyot settled second in personal best 3:35.40. Their compatriot 2011 World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat won the race in world lead 3:35.29. Kiplagat won’t be taking part at the Birmingham event.
Nyambura, who was a rabbit in Shanghai, stunned many when she went on to win the race in world lead 9:21.51 but it was time for Kiyeng, who turned the tables on Nyambura over the last hurdle to win in Rome in world lead 9:15.08.
In Doha, Kiyeng had settled third in 9:22.11 while Nyambura finished in second in personal best in 9:15.75. The two Kenyans face Ethiopian Hiwot Ayelew, who finished second in Doha.
Mo Farah’s stepdown for a speed tuning 1500m at Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Birmingham has been overshadowed by allegations that his renowned coach encouraged doping.
(READ: UK Athletics give Salazar clean bill of health over Farah)
What should have been a celebration of three British athletes who made it ‘super Saturday’ at the London Olympics — Farah, long jumper Greg Rutherford and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill — has been overshadowed by the hard-hitting allegations against Alberto Salazar.
In a documentary screened by the BBC on Wednesday, Salazar is alleged to have encouraged athletes in his care to take banned substances, notably Olympic silver medallist Galen Rupp, the USA’s national 10,000 metres record-holder, in 2002. (Additional reporting by AFP)
Courtesy of nation.co.ke