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Kenyans optimistic of claiming Diamond League heist in Zurich       

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- World champions Elijah Manangoi and Hellen Obiri of Kenya will be among the 16 finalists with a realistic chance of being crowned as one of the 32 Diamond League trophy winners.

With over 40,000 U.S. dollars for every winner, the two will be leading a galaxy of Kenyans in quest for the heist in Zurich during the penultimate round of the Diamond League meeting on Thursday night while the final 16 will be decided next week in Brussels.

“I am more focused on running fast time,” said Manangoi, the new world champion in 1,500m distance.

“The season ender will be a nice way to tell my fans goodbye and I want both the fast time and the Diamond trophy. The cash will be a bonus.”

Manangoi, who upgraded from silver medal he won at 2015 Beijing World Championships to gold in London, will be a hard rabbit to catch.

However, for Obiri, the 5,000m world champion, it will be the star-attraction in the second finals in Brussels next week where the Rio Olympic 5,000m silver medalist only needs to make an appearance since her lead of 25 points is unassailable.

This year’s Diamond League format witnessed a change where athletes had to qualify by earning points from four to six meetings.

The top eight or 12 athletes from the first of 12 legs of the 14-leg series then qualified for their respective finals that were split into two - Zurich and Brussels.

Series winners in each race will pocket 50,000 U.S. dollars. Some 100,000 dollars will be at stake in each of the 16 Diamond Trophy disciplines in both Zurich and Brussels for a total combined prize purse of 3.2 million dollars, with 50,000 dollars, along with the Diamond Trophy, going to each winner.

A total of 18 Kenyans will be in Zurich to feature in four finals - men’s 1,500m and 5,000m and women’s 3,000m steeplechase and 800m.

Also in action in the 5,000m is double Olympic champion Mo Farah of Britain who will be competing in his final track race before shifting to the marathon.

In the 3,000m steeplechase, Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng, who settled for bronze in London, shares the top spot with compatriots Beatrice Chepkoech and Norah Jeruto with 15 points each.

Olympic champion Ruth Jebet from Bahrain and Kenya’s world Under-20 champion Cellphine Chespol, who have 11 points each, are also in contention in Zurich.

Olympic 800m bronze medalist Margaret Nyairera and 2013 world 800m champion Eunice Sum are out of contention in women’s 800m battle leaving contenders Olympic and world 800m champion Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba from Burundi to fight it out. Niyonsaba leads the series with 36 points. Semenya has 32.


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