Pole vault world champion Sam Kendricks and 5000m world champion Hellen Obiri dubbed today’s Doha Diamond League meet at Qatar Sports Club a “championship” event yesterday.
The Qatari capital will host the fourth and final round of a truncated competitive Diamond League calendar that only began with Monaco on August 14, before heading to Stockholm (August 23) and Rome (September 17).
With as many as 27 World and Olympic medallists lining up today across track and field disciplines, deep line-ups are going to be a sure-shot source for fantastic athletic action for those watching at home with the event to be held behind closed doors.
The women’s 3000m event is all set to be a cracker of a competition with medallists from last year’s World Championships from different events lining up.
Obiri, who won the 5000m in a world-leading time of 14:22.12 in Monaco last month, returns to the venue where she set a Kenyan 3000m record back in 2014. The 30-year-old won the 3000m event at last year’s Diamond League meet at Khalifa International Stadium before returning to that venue for the 5000m world title.
She will be joined by the likes of world steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech, world 5000m silver medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, world 10,000m bronze medallist Agnes Tirop and world 1500m bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegay.
But her faith in her training and a successful competition history in Doha mean Obiri is confident.
“I’ve trained well, and when I train well I have no doubts in a race. Whenever I line up for a race, I’m focused on doing my best. I don’t feel the pressure. Maybe I’ll do something special,” said Obiri, who added that she will be switching to road racing starting 2022.
“I’ve always enjoyed racing in Doha. In 2014 I set my PB over 3000m (8:20.68), and last year I won the World Championships here. I like racing here, it’s favourable to me.”
Compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot, gold medallist at Doha Worlds in men’s 1500m, will be attempting a first when he lines up for the 800m for the first time outside his country.
With the seventh fastest time in 1500m at 3:28.41, Cheruiyot is hoping that the switch to the two-lap race will help him get better in his core event.
“I chose to do the 800m here because I wanted to test my speed endurance. All of my other races at 800m have been in Kenya, so I’m excited to do an 800m in the Diamond League,” the 24-year-old, who ran 3:28.45 in 1500m in Monaco, said yesterday.
“I need to work on my speed endurance because it’s an important part of 1500m running. Last year in Lausanne I ran the first 800m in 1:49 but still finished in 3:28.77, just outside my PB (3:28.41). I know I have endurance but I’m lacking a bit in my finishing speed, so that’s what I want to work on,” added Cheruiyot, who will have world bronze medallist Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich for company on the track among others.
Speed is one thing that Jamaican double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah has no qualms about. If you had any doubts, she even wore a ‘Fast Elaine’ face mask while addressing the press conference yesterday.
In Rome last week, she ran the 100m in 10.85 seconds, something that even surprised her a bit.
“Honestly I was a little bit surprised because I hadn’t raced for some time but I knew I was capable of running fast, not 10.85, but I was putting in the work, and I got the result. So I am really excited,” Thompson-Herah said.
Before heading to Rome, the 28-year-old had raced in her native Jamaica after the pandemic wreaked havoc with the international schedules. With a nagging Achilles injury forcing her to withdraw from the Doha Worlds last year, Thompson-Herah was glad to get some international competition under her belt.
“I must say I am really grateful for Rome and Doha to organise these two meets. I was performing in Jamaica but it wasn’t as high intensity. Didn’t have a lot of competition but I still put in a 100 percent. This helps me to put myself in a good position for upcoming 2021,” she said yesterday.
Thompson-Herah will go up against the likes of multiple world medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast in the women’s 100m sprint.
In other races, Olympic bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre of France will line up for the men’s 200m alongside Ta Lou’s compatriot Arthur Cisse, who ran a 10.04 in the 100m in Rome.
In Rome, Kuwait’s Yousef Karam ran a 45.25 in the men’s 400m and would aim to be the fastest man this year in the event in Doha today. Ludvy Vaillant, with a time of 45.46 at the French Championships earlier this month, and Kahmari Montgomery, who ran a 45.50 in Hungary in August, will pose a significant challenge.
Qatari participation at the event includes Adam Ali Musab and Hamza Driouch in the 1500m main race, and Mohamed al-Garni and Yaser Bagharab in the 1500m (B). Abdulaziz Salem will line up for the 200m race and Asian bronze medallist Jamal Hairane will take part in the 800m race.
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