Obiri out to retain Diamond League title in Brussels

Hellen Obiri will be targeting a third consecutive Diamond League title in the 5000m when the 2019 IAAF Diamond League now boils down to the AG Memorial van Damme in Brussels.

A total 16 athletes were crowned champions last week in Zurich and the second final in the series, which will see another 16 winners minted on Thursday and Friday.

To defend her title, World champion Obiri will need to defeat two world record-holders.

European champion Sifan Hassan, who broke the world mile record earlier this year, and Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, the world record-holder in the steeplechase, are both in the field.

Agnes Tirop, who beat Obiri over 5000m in Stockholm and over 10,000m at the Kenyan Championships, is also a big contender.

German record-holder Konstanze Klosterhalfen and African 3000m record-holder Letesenbet Gidey both finished ahead of Obiri in Stanford, so may once again be a threat in Brussels.

Aside from a close runner-up finish in Doha back in May, Timothy Cheruiyot has won all of his races across all distances this year.

It is the 1500m in which he is most dominant, underlined by his world-leading 3:28.77 run in Lausanne and 3:29.97 victory in Monaco, and he is seeking a third consecutive Diamond trophy in Brussels.

Ayanleh Souleiman finished second to Cheruiyot in Stockholm and Stanford, while Jakob Ingebrigtsen was runner-up behind the Kenyan in Lausanne.

Both men will be in Brussels along with Uganda’s Ronald Musagala, who won in Paris and Birmingham in Cheruiyot’s absence. Marcin Lewandowski, who clocked a Polish record of 3:31.95 in Monaco, could also be a factor.

Conseslus Kipruto isn’t in quite the same form he was in 12 months ago when he won the Diamond League steeplechase title wearing just one shoe.

He made his season debut in Paris with an 8:13.75 clocking for fifth place, then pulled out of the African Games two days later.

But fortunately for the world and Olympic champion, no one else in this event currently looks unbeatable.

Soufiane El Bakkali is the world leader at 8:04.82 and won in Doha, Monaco and Paris. But the Moroccan was beaten on home soil at the recent African Games by Benjamin Kigen, who has also had some mixed results this year.

The Ethiopian trio of Getnet Wale, Chala Beyo and Lamecha Girma have regularly featured near the front of the leading packs throughout this season and should once again contend for a top placing in Brussels.

Top sprinters are often accused of avoiding one another outside of major championships, but many of the fields in Brussels are brimming with the world’s best talent at the shorter distances.

Fred Kerley and Michael Norman haven’t raced at all since the US Championships six weeks ago, where Kerley pulled off a surprise victory, clocking a PB of 43.64 to finish 0.15 ahead of Norman, the world leader.

Norman hinted afterwards that he had been carrying a niggling injury into that race, but the recent break from competition will hopefully mean he arrives in Brussels in the kind of form that carried him to victories in Stockholm, Eugene and Rome earlier this year.

Jamaica’s multiple world and Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has looked untouchable in almost all of her IAAF Diamond League 100m appearances this year.

Another win in Brussels would land her with her first Diamond League trophy since 2015.

Each winner in Zurich and Brussels will pocket $50,000, a Diamond trophy and a wild card entry for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.

It is little wonder, then, that the fields for the second IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels are so loaded.

-Material sourced from IAAF. Read full report here.