Diamond League races perfect Olympics warm-up for Kenyan athletics stars

Faith Kipyegon

Faith Kipyegon leads the pack in the 1500m women final during Athletics Kenya Paris Olympics Trials on June 15, at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The French capital will on Sunday host the Paris Diamond League meeting. 
  • At least five Olympic champions and six world gold medallists will compete.

As the clock ticks towards the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, some of the Kenyan athletes, who will compete in the quadrennial games from July 26 to August 11, will on Sunday have a sneak peek of the competition conditions that await them when they compete in Paris Diamond League meeting in the French capital.

Diamond League races are normally held in world-class venues under strict competition rules. Sunday's races will be held at the 20,000-seater Stade Charléty in Paris, some 19.3 kilometres away from the Stade de France, where track and field competitions will be held during the Olympic Games in Paris from July 26. 

Sunday's Diamond League races will be reconnaissance of sorts for 15 Kenyan athletes, most of whom will be in Paris. The races will enable them plan better for the Olympics, having already experience the altitude, humidity, temperature and speed of wind in Paris.

At least five Olympic champions and six world gold medallists will be at the Charléty Stadium in Paris for the eighth leg of the Diamond League series

All eyes will be on two-time Olympics 1,500 metres champion Faith Kipyegon, who competes in her first international race tomorrow in Paris after recovering from an injury.

Kipyegon who has been training in Kaptagat, Elgeyo Marakwet County, who won in the Kenyan trials held from June 14 to 15 at the Nyayo National Stadium, will compete alongside her compatriots, Kapsabet-based Nelly Jepchirchir and US-based Susan Ejore.

Back in action

Jepchirchir and Ejore finished second and third respectively behind Kipyegon.

Speaking in Eldoret before leaving for Paris on Friday, Kipyegon said she is happy to be back in competition after being sidelined by injury. She said wants to see how her body reacts in when she competes on Sunday.

“My training has gone according to programme, and I am injury-free at the moment. I think you saw how I competed at the national trials, where I won in good time. That was my first race this season after pulling out from the diamond league races and I just want to see how I will compete,” said Kipyegon who is under the Global Sports Communications stable.

She added that with the few weeks remaining before the Olympic Games begin, her target is to fine-tune her programme as she prepares to lay claim to a third Olympics 1,500m title.

Kipyegon won gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in Brazil and retained her title at the 2020 Olympic Games which were held in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

Kipyegon, who has a personal best of three minutes, 49.11 seconds will be competing against her compatriot Ejore (3:58.63), Ethiopians Hirut Meshesha (3:54.87), Nigist Getachew (4:05.93) and Freweyni Hailu (3:55.48), Australia’s Linden Hall (3:56.92) among other top athletes.

Olympics debut

In women’s 3,000m steeplechase race, the world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech who has a personal best time of 8:44.32 and finished second at the national trials, will come up against her compatriot, Commonwealth Games champion Jackline Chepkoech (8:57.35).

Chepkoech who trains with Kipyegon in Kaptagat is overjoyed at the prospect of competing at the Olympics for the first time.

Tomorrow’s race, she says, will help her gauge her performance and to see what to improve ahead of the Olympics.

“My training programme is almost over. On Sunday, we will meet some of our competitors, and this will help me identify the areas to improve on when I get back," she said after her training at the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret on Tuesday.

The two will be competing against Kenyan-born Bahraini Winfred Yavi who is also the world champion over the distance, another Kenyan-born Kazakhstani Daisy Jepkemei, Alice Finot from France, Ethiopia’s Lomi Muleta, Germany’s Lea Meyer, among others.

The men’s 3,000m steeplechase race promises to be an interesting one, as the athletes competing in the distance basically seeking speed ahead of their events, with many competing in the 5,000m race.

Kenya’s Jacob Krop will be in the men’s 5,000m race tomorrow in Paris.