JOHANNESBURG – Reigning Kenyan world champions Timothy Cheruiyot and Hellen Obiri will headline the Wanda Diamond League in Stockholm meeting on Sunday.
Cheruiyot, 24, will be the favourite for the men’s 1500m in Stockholm. The 2019 World Champion heads a strong field including the in-form Ingebrigsten brothers Filip and Jakob of Norway, as well as countryman Timothy Sein. The only other African in the event is Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha.
Demonstrating his world-class pedigree over the last three years, Cheruiyot won 11 of his 12 Diamond League races between 2018 and 2019.
Cheruiyot’s lifetime best of 3:28.41, set in Monaco in 2018, puts him seventh on the world all-time list and is just 2.41 seconds shy of Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record. He is confident of climbing up that list and perhaps one day even beating El Guerrouj’s 3:26.00.
Obiri, meanwhile, will be the star attraction of the women’s 1500m. Without a 5000m race in Stockholm, the 30-year-old will be making her first appearance in a 1500m race this season. With a 3:57.05 personal best, she is the third fastest athlete in the field. Only Great Britain’s Laura Muir (3:55.22) and American Shannon Rowbury (3:56.29) have faster lifetime bests.
Last week at the Monaco, Obiri showed her top form as she claimed victory in the women’s 5000m.
With five laps to go it was a race in four with Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey leading from Obiri, Laura Weightman and Sifan Hassan as they gapped the rest of the field.
World 1500m and 10,000m champion Hassan, who had been doubtful about her form coming into the event due to a long lockdown in Ethiopia, found the pace too punishing and stepped off the track at 4000m, leaving Gidey and Obiri to duel for the honours.
Obiri put on the after-burners 250m from the finish line and sprinted away to win in 14:22.12, setting a meeting record and the world lead. She was delighted to be less than four seconds from her personal best in such a disrupted year.
Gidey clocked 14:26.57 in second as third-placed Weightman set a personal best of 14:35.44 ahead of Jessica Hull, who set an outdoor Oceanian record of 14:43.80, the first time she has dipped under 15 minutes.
African News Agency (ANA)