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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya’s top runners face tough challenge
in quest to dominate World Indoor C’ ships   

NAROBI, (Xinhua) -- That feeling of a conqueror that many athletes exhibit will be evident when the global best meet in Birmingham for this year’s World Indoor Championships, which starts on Thursday.

Kenya will have its best eight athletes led by World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri, Beatrice Chepkoech and Bethwel Birgen who have dominated in their specialty in the build up to the finals through the strenuous IAAF World Indoor Tour.

And as the season hits its apex this weekend in Birmingham, Kenyan Birgen has pledged to bring home gold in the 3,000m race. Kenya last won gold in this event in 2014 in Poland through Caleb Mwangangi.

“I feel ready and confident of my strength to battle for the medals,” Birgen said on Wednesday.

“Everyone is in Birmingham by merit and eye this same medal, but it is down to who wants it more and the strength each carries. I believe am best placed to pick it.”

Birgen who won the 1,500m on Sunday in Glasgow and is the IAAF Indoor Tour wild card holder from 2017 will not run this event in Birmingham.

He prefers to concentrate in the 3,000m where he was selected by Kenya, his agent Ricky Simms has confirmed.

Kenya’s Obiri will be seeking some sought of revenge. In September last year, she was competing in Birmingham Diamond League, just weeks after winning the world title in London.

However, she failed to excel and had to settle for fourth place in the 3,000m with Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands triumphing.

But she has focused on training and started her indoor campaign strong with a victory in Ostrava (Czech Republic) and was fourth in Torun (Poland). But her focus is winning back the 3,000m title from Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba.

There will be a total of 2.5 million U.S. dollars on offer from the IAAF as prize money in Birmingham.

There is also a 50,000 dollar bonus on offer for any athlete setting a world record during the four-day championships. The gold medalists will take home 40,000 dollars, silver 20,000 dollars, bronze 10,000 dollars.

Kenya team:

Men - Emmanuel Korir (800m), Vincent Kibet (1,500m), Bethwell Birgen, Davis Kiplagat (3,000m).

Women - Margaret Nyairera (800m), Beatrice Chepkoech, Winnie Chebet (1,500m), Hellen Obiri (3,000m).

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