What will happen in Rabat?
It is anyone’s guess. I hope for an impressive crowd with some fine distance performances! Here is how Justin Lagat sees it.
Caster Semenya, photo by PhotoRun.net
Preview of distance events at the maiden Rabat IAAF Diamond League meeting
The first ever IAAF Diamond League meeting to happen in Africa will be staged this weekend, on 22nd, in Rabat, Morocco. Looking at the start lists, it certainly will be one exciting meeting to remember.
Ethiopia’s world champion, Mohammed Aman will get to duel with Botswana’s Amos Nijel in the men’s 800m event. But, with the presence of Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich, who is fresh from winning the Shanghai diamond league race, a win for any of the athletes in this event will not come easy.
Ayana Almaz of Ethiopia who has a personal best time of 14:14.32 is the clear favorite to win the women’s 5000m race here and her compatriot, Teferi Senbere with an impressive world leading time of 14:36.44 will also be lining up. Kenya’s Mercy Cherono and Violah Kibiwot are two other high profile runners in this race with the potential to upset the Ethiopians.
In the men’s 3000m steeplechase race, Kenyans with impressive records and times are here: Conseslus Kipruto, Jairus Birech and Paul Kipsiele Koech, among others. But there is one man who has managed to spoil the party for them in the past. Mekhissi Benabbad of France prevented Kenyans from enjoying their typical 1-2-3 podium sweeps in the steeplechase event by winning Silver at the 2008 and also at the 2012 Olympic Games. He will be one athlete to make the race more exciting in Rabat as the world will watch him try to beat the Kenyans in their favorite event.
Caster Semenya of South Africa is in great form this year and the rest of the field in the women 800m event will be seeing her as the athlete to beat. Other favorites in this event include Kenya’s Eunice Sum, Great Britain’s Linsey Sharp, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, Belarus’s Arzama Sova and Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui.
Although the event will not count in the diamond league points, there is good lineup in the men’s 1500m. Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat with a personal best time of 3:27.64, however, stands tall against the rest with the athletes coming closer to his impressive PB being Australia’s Ryan Gregson with 3:31.06, Morocco’s Mohamed Moustaoui with 3:31.84 and Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye with 3:31.98.
The women’s 3000m steeplechase race will also be another race without any points and will miss some of the top runners in this event. The contention for the win here will likely be between Kenya’s Gladys Jerotich and Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro, but with the home crowds, Morocco’s Fadwa Sidi Madane could pull a surprise win for her fans.