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Birgen leads Kenya’s pack at German indoor meeting 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Top Kenyan athletes will launch their bid to secure tickets to the World Indoor Championships on Saturday in Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, in Germany.

Bethwell Birgen will lead the pack for the IAAF Indoor tour, which comprises of six races in Europe and the United States.

Though Birgen has already secured his ticket through a wild card after winning last year’s tour in 1,500m, he must show his fitness by retaining his title.

“I have to show the fitness that propelled me to win the IAAF Indoor tour last season. But with this caliber of athletes, it brings out the best in me and I look forward to a fast race,” Birgen said on Friday.

Perennial 1,500m standout Silas Kiplagat and Beijing Olympic 5,000m bronze medalist Edwin Soi will compete in Karlsruhe.

Moroccan Adbelaati Iguider is a regular force in just about every major championship since 2008.

Meanwhile, with the late hour withdrawal of Kenyan Kipyegon Bett due to a minor injury, the focus in the men’s 800m will fall on the experienced Marcin Lewandowski, who’s won European indoor gold at 800m and 1,500m.

The field also includes Briton Andrew Osagie, the 2012 and 2014 world indoor bronze medallist, and Erik Solinski of the U.S., the 2016 world indoor bronze winner who opened his season with a win in New York last weekend.

In the women’s 1,500m race, the absence of world and Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon leaves Ethiopian world record holder Genzebe Dibaba facing a field that includes Kenyan Winny Chebetand Poland’s Angelika Cichocka.

The Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe serves as the first of the six races in the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Tour.

This year’s tour will be staged over the course of 22 days, with further stops in Dusseldorf, Madrid, Boston and Torun before its conclusion in Glasgow on Feb 25, just four days before the IAAF World Championships Birmingham from March 1-4.

At the end of the series, the individual overall winner of each discipline takes home 20,000 U.S. dollars in prize money and a wild card entry to the World Indoor Championships. 



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