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Double World Champ Kipyegon to open season in Xiamen

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Kipyegon
Faith Kipyegon beats Sifan Hassan in the women's 5,000m. PHOTO/World Athletics
  • Kipyegon had a hugely successful season in 2023 with three world records
  • Beatrice Chepkoech also competes in the women’s steeplechase
  • Athletes are preparing for the Paris Olympics

Double world champion and world record holder Faith Kipyegon will open her track season at the Xiamen leg of the World Athletics Diamond League on April 20.

Kipyegon is among 12 Olympic gold medallists and 27 world champions who will light up the spectacular Egret Stadium, which hosted the inaugural Wanda Diamond League meeting in Xiamen last September.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champion, has not been beaten in a 1500m race since 2021, but the Kenyan faces a stern test over her specialist distance in Xiamen.

She will take on 10 women who have run below four minutes, including Ethiopia’s world 10,000m champion Gudaf Tsegay, who broke Kipyegon’s world 5000m record last year.

Diribe Welteji, who beat Kipyegon to the world road mile title in Riga last year, is also in the line-up, as is world indoor 1500m champion Freweyni Hailu.

“I feel that my pre-season training has been going on well and my body is ready. Of course there is so much expectation, looking at how I performed last season, but I am taking each race at a time and giving my best,” Kipyegon said as she stepped up her preparations in Kaptagat.

Kipyegon had a brilliant season in 2023, breaking three world records; her 1500m specialty, the 5,000m and the mile, though the 5,000m record was later lowered by Tsegay.

Kipyegon also defends world title

Faith Kipyegon

Faith Kipyegon wins the women’s 1500m Diamond Trophy in Eugene. PHOTO/Diamond League/Twitter

She also went on to defend her World Championships title, and completed her season at the World Road Running Championships.

This year, Kipyegon’s targets are majorly on the Olympic Games, though the Diamond League will be equally crucial as she seeks to win a fourth career trophy and also build up perfectly for Paris.

At the same time, compatriot Beatrice Chepkoech, who helped Kipyegon shatter the women’s 5,00m world record by pacing her, will also open her campaign in Xiamen, as she looks towards a better season.

Chepkoech has struggled over the last two seasons, since the end of the covid-19 pandemic due to an ankle injury, but will look to do better, also with the Olympics around the corner.

She will contest in the women’s steeplechase, and will come face to face once again with Kenyan-turned Bahraini Winfred Mutile Yavi, who beat her to the World Championships title in Budapest last year.

Also featuring in the race is youngster Faith Cherotich.

Another Kenyan competing in Xiamen is Commonwealth Games champion Wycliffe Kinyamal who competes in the men’s 800m with his biggest competitor being world champion Marco Arop.

Meanwhile other main attractions in Xiamen will be pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis, who will compete with five others.

Duplantis up for stiff competition in season opener

Duplantis

Armand Duplantis of Sweden competes in the Men’s Pole Vault final during the second session on Day 3 of the European Athletics Indoor Championships at Arena Torun on March 07, 2021 in Torun, Poland. PHOTO/Getty

The Swede – who recently won his second world indoor title – will have to be near his best in Xiamen to beat US trio Christopher Nilsen, Sam Kendricks and KC Lightfoot.

Among the other reigning Olympic champions set to feature are Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, US discus thrower Valarie Allman, Portuguese triple jumper Pedro Pichardo, Jamaican sprint hurdler Hansle Parchment, and Chinese throwers Gong Lijiao and Liu Shiying.

The meeting also features a slew of world champions including US sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, discus thrower Laulauga Tausaga, shot putter Chase Jackson, along with Dominican Republic’s 400m specialist Marileidy Paulino.

The women’s 100m hurdles will feature a riveting showdown between Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico and the two most recent world champions: Tobi Amusan of Nigeria and Danielle Williams of Jamaica. However, Devynne Charlton will be a huge threat, the Bahamian keen to convert her scintillating indoor form to the 100m hurdles, having set a world indoor record of 7.65 to win in Glasgow.

The men’s 100m will feature a clash between sprint superpowers USA and Jamaica, with the US charge led by past world 100m champions Fred Kerley and Christian Coleman. They’ll be keen to get one over on Jamaican rivals such as 2011 world champion Yohan Blake, world indoor bronze medallist Ackeem Blake, and 2023 Jamaican champion Rohan Watson.

Richardson may be better known as a 100m sprinter, but the US star proved in Budapest last year she can also contend over 200m, earning bronze there in 21.92. In Xiamen, she will race the longer sprint where the chief threat might come from fellow sub-22-second athletes Tamara Clark and Anavia Battle of USA.

The women’s 400m serves up a rematch between the three medallists from last year’s world final, with Paulino facing Natalia Kaczmarek of Poland and Sada Williams of Barbados. The field includes four other sub-50-second athletes, including USA’s Britton Wilson and Talitha Diggs.

-Additional reporting by World Athletics

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