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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyan Rudisha to launch season in Shanghai Diamond League

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Olympic and World 800m champion David Rudisha of Kenya will launch his season in China at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting on May 13.

Rudisha, who is seeking to retain his gold medal at the London World Championships in August, will lead a galaxy of stars to the premier Chinese grand prix meeting as the race to London takes off.

“It will be an honour to compete again in China,” he said. “I love their fans and their stadiums.”

Rudisha made his international debut in China at the Beijing World Junior Championships back in 2006 winning gold but missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 because of a tendon injury. He however, returned to the Chinese capital two years ago to amend his miss and won gold in the 800m race.

Now he will be among the 13 Rio Olympic champions announced for the 2017 Shanghai Diamond League on May 13, the second stop on the International Association of Athletics Federations’ global circuit of premier one-day meetings.

The stellar line-up includes four gold medallists from the Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships and nine event winners from the 2016 Diamond Race, plus an array of last year’s world leading performers.

One of those is sprint hurdler Omar McLeod who produced the world’s fastest time of the season to win the Shanghai meeting’s traditional closing event, the men’s 110m hurdles.

Others are Spain’s Orlando Ortega, the former Cuban who took the silver medal in Rio and went on to win the 2016 Diamond Race trophy.

Ortega was second behind world champion David Oliver in Shanghai two years ago but will be looking to make amends in 2017 after being disqualified for a false start last year.

Rudisha is one of four Beijing 2015 champions who will look for some early pointers just three months ahead of his world title defence.

The 800m world record holder (1:40.91) made his Shanghai Diamond League debut last May and went on to retain the Olympic title in Rio in style.

This year the Kenyan will be keen to tap into memories of his astonishing world record victory at the 2012 Olympics to spur him on the road to London 2017.

The men’s field events also feature some intriguing match-ups. Canada’s world and Olympic champion Derek Drouin takes on China’s world silver medallist Zhang Guowei in the high jump, while the pole vault pitches Brazil’s Rio hero Thiago Braz against France’s world indoor record holder, Renaud Lavillenie.

The women’s events will be no less star-studded. A trio of Olympic champions will grace the women’s distance events: 1,500m gold medalist Faith Kipyegon, who broke the Kenyan and meeting record in Shanghai last May will be on the lead while Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, who smashed the meeting’s 5,000m record two years ago, will be the athlete to beat in the 5,000m race.

Then there is steeplechaser Ruth Jebet, who lowered the Asian and Bahraini record to place second in Shanghai in 2016.

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EARLIER REPORT:

Komon, Jepchirchir leads Kenya charge at Prague Half Marathon

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- World half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir has warned her rivals she is in top form as she seeks to conquer the Prague Half Marathon course on Saturday in Czech Republic.

Jepchirchir, speaking in Nairobi on Thursday as she left for Prague, said she has had good training and she is eager to lay down the gauntlet to her rivals.

“I feel comfortable as I go for this race. I have done enough work in training and hopefully, it will count towards my victory,” she said.

She was accompanied by Leonard Komon, fresh from his fourth finish at the Kampala World Cross Country Championships in Uganda.

Komon holds the world records at 10km and 15km and he will be trying to improve on his third-place finish in Prague from 2015.

Alongside the two, the organisers have also called in two Rio Olympic medalists - Galen Rupp (USA) and Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia) - to spice up the race.

The women’s race features Jepchirchir, who clocked 1:05:06 half marathon world record performance in Dubai in January.

She will be challenged by the Prague event record-holder Violah Jepchumba, whose 1:05:51 clocking in the Czech capital last year was the fastest half marathon performance of 2016.

The race will include three other women who have run faster than 1:07:00. They are Joyciline Jepkosgei, who ran 1:06:08 in Ras al-Khaimah last month, former race record-holder Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia, and Kenya’s African Games 10,000m silver medallist Gladys Chesir.

U.S. duo Jordan Hasay and Maegan Krifchin are also in the field, along with Eva Vrabcova of the Czech Republic.

The men’s field has Komon leading the onslaught and will face his biggest threat coming from another Kenyan, Barselius Kipyego who set a course record of 59:15 in Czech Republic’s town of Usti nad Labem last September on what had not previously been considered a fast course.

Olympic bronze medallist Galen Rupp and Tamirat Tola are also in the field. Tola finished third in the 10,000m at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and looks to be in top condition this year after running 2:04:11 to win in the Dubai Marathon in January.

 

             

 

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