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Asbel Kiprop relishes prospects in diamond league opener

The IAAF Diamond League season kicks off  Friday night in Doha, Qatar and all eyes will be in the men’s 800m race, at least according to race organizers here and one of the local dailies, The Qatar Tribune.

Two reigning world champions, Asbel Kiprop (1,500m) of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman (800m), will be going toe-to-toe starting 7.29 p.m. at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium in Doha.

The Qatar Tribune newspaper has described the two athletes as the being “among the biggest stars at the World Championships two years ago in Moscow, Russia”, while in a pre-race press release by the organizers billed the race as “the most anticipated on the programme.”

Understandably, Kiprop seems to be relishing the prospects of facing off with the world’s top athlete in the two-lap race.

“I expect a tough competition and that is why I am happy to be here. I am not an 800m runner, but I am glad to be part of the competition,” Kiprop is quoted by The Qatar Tribune from a press conference on Wednesday.

Kiprop, who holds the meeting record in 1,500m (3:28.18), and Aman both have very fond memories of their previous visits to Doha.

The Kenyan has won both the 800m and the 1,500m race in Doha, the former in 2011 and the latter at the meeting’s last two editions.

Aman, on the other hand, won over the distance here last year in a non-scoring race.

The Ethiopian, who already has three world titles to his credit – one outdoors and two indoors – is equally hungry for a perfect start to the new season.

“My main season’s goal is to win the Diamond race for the third time. That is in line with my ambition in Doha and to remain the world champion in Beijing this summer,” said Aman.

The field also includes two athletes with sub 1:43.00 credentials, French record holder Pierre Ambrose Bosse (1:42.53, PB) and Kiprop’s compatriot Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot (1:43.84, PB). Other Kenyans on the startlist are Job Kinyor (1:43.76), Jeremiah Mutai (1:45.60) and Alfred Kipketer (1:45.00).

Notable absentee in the race will be the reigning Commonwealth Games champion Nijel Amos of Botswana.

The other race where Kenyans will be competing in are the javelin throw (men) with two-time African champion Julius Yego as the country’s sole representative, women’s 1,500m, men’s 800m, women’s 3,000m Steeplechase and men’s 3,000m.