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Champ Kipruto eyes steeplechase world record in Brussels meeting

By John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A world record is on the mind of Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto as he makes his final appearance this season at the Brussels Diamond League on Friday.

Kipruto has already clinched the 3,000m steeplechase Diamond Race, and says he has high expectations for himself as he eyes a record-breaking performance in Brussels.

“I have always dreamt of breaking the world record. But it was never a priority to me because I had never won anything big. But after the Rio Olympics, everything has changed, I can go for anything now,” Kipruto said on Thursday in Nairobi.

The 21-year-old has long been shadowed by the legendary Ezekiel Kemboi, but managed to outpace his mentor to win gold at the Rio Games.

This season he has been winning his races with apparent ease and leads the world with his 8:00.12 personal best, which he ran at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham.

Surprisingly, however, he has yet to run under eight minutes in his career but he is still going for a full-blown world record attempt in Brussels, taking aim at the mark of 7:53.63 set by Saif Saaeed Shaheen at the same meeting in 2004.

USA’s Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager will also be in the race and is aiming to break his own North American record of 8:00.45.

In the women’s 5,000m, Olympic bronze medallist Almaz Ayana is not quite as certain as Kipruto about taking the Diamond Race, but she maintains a big advantage of 14 points in the standings.

Having acquired the 10,000m world record, she now aims to add to her list of accolades with an attempt on the 5,000m record of 14:11.15, held by her Ethiopian compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba since 2008.

Ayana has already come close to that mark at three Diamond League outings this year, clocking 14:12.59 in Rome, 14:14.32 in Shanghai and 14:16.63 in Rabat, and she now owns three of the six fastest times in history.

A world record will also somewhat make up for the visible disappointment of not getting the gold in this event in Rio, when stomach problems relegated her to third behind Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot.

Kipruto and Ayana have the luxury of being able to chase times, but many of the Diamond Race disciplines will likely go down to the wire.

Another athlete keen to make amends will be Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, the world champion in the 1,500m.

Kiprop seemed to be the star of the 1,500m prior to Rio Olympics, but the three-time world champion drifted back to sixth down the home straight in the final, so he will be also hoping to redeem himself with a solid win Brussels, ensuring that he lifts the Diamond Trophy.

A fast race that might challenge his world-leading time of 3:29.33 could be in store, but he will face the quick-finishing Olympic silver medalist Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria, who has opted for this event over the 800m.



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