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Kenya’s Manangoi hopes to roar in victory at Bislett Games in Oslo

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s new middle-distance sensation Elijah Manangoi will be among the 20 world champions engaged for Thursday’s Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway.

Manangoi has not nailed down any win in the last three races he has taken part in since winning the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia at the beginning of April.

But he remains focused and certain he will break the duck in Norway during the fifth stop of the Diamond League.

“The challenge is real and I have not been at my best. But I am improving by the day and this mile event in Oslo may just be the turning point for me this season,” said Manangoi, Tuesday in Nairobi.

Two other Kenyans, world indoor bronze medalists Bethwel Birgen and former world youth champion Kumari Taki will also be racing in the dream mile distance.

Birgen is keen to nail down a slot in the Kenya team to the Africa championships in August in Asaba, Nigeria and believes he will be able to shake off his rivals during the national trials in Nairobi late in June.

“I feel strong now and will challenge for a national slot during the trials. But for now, the focus is on Oslo and after that we will see what tactics to use in the national championships in Nairobi,” he said.

In the women’s 3,000m steeplechase race, five athletes will be taking on each other in a mini-Kenyan championship. Rome Diamond League winner Hyvin Kiyeng will take on Shanghai champion Caroline Chepkoech and reigning world champion Emma Coburn of the USA.

“My best form is back and I won in Rome. Now I will prove yet again to Coburn that I am the best in water and hurdle race,” said Kiyeng, the Beijing World Championships winner.

Others in the race will be Ann Gathoni, Daisy Jepkemei, Purity Kirui and Caroline Tuigong.

In 800m, Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei will face Caster Semenya, while in 10,000m Dominic Kiptarus will be the lone wolf in the flock of sheep. He comes up against Norwegian Sondre Moen, who returns to track racing after a dominant year on the roads.

With the European Championship in Berlin later in August, interest will be high in the progress of various athletes from the region, and there are no than fewer than 14 previous European champions confirmed for the Bislett Games.



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