Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana on her way to victory in the 5000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
World champions Almaz Ayana and Vivian Cheruiyot will meet over 3000m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, the opening meeting of the 2016 season, on Friday 6 May.
Kenya’s Cheruiyot returned from maternity leave last season to win the 10,000m in the Chinese capital while Ayana is the Ethiopian record-holder in the 3000m, having run 8:22.20 last season before winning over 5000m in Beijing
“With these two world champions meeting in the same race, we have again shown our commitment to bringing the best of middle and long distance racing to Doha,” said Qatar Athletics Federation President Dahlan Al Hamad.
“Two years ago Doha hosted one of the best women’s 3000m races in history. I am very excited to see if we will witness a re-run of that this year as we prepare to kick-off the Diamond League series for the seventh time.”
The 2014 contest saw Kenyan Hellen Obiri leading eight runners under 8:30 en route to her 8:20.68 African record.
Finishing second in that race was another Kenyan, Mercy Cherono, who returns to Doha as the fastest woman in the field, courtesy of her 8:21.14 run behind Obiri in the thrilling 2014 contest.
The quality field also includes Ethiopian pair Senbere Teferi and Gelete Burka, the world silver medallists in the 5000m and 10,000m respectively. Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot will also be on the start line.
The field in the men’s 3000m steeplechase is led by Kenya’s two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya and his young compatriot, Jairus Birech, who won his second successive Diamond Race in 2015.
Kemboi, who triumphed at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games, captured his fourth straight world title last year. The 33-year-old will be aiming for his fourth win in Doha after victories in 2009, 2010 and 2014.
Birech meanwhile is a rising force who took the event by storm in 2014 when he won the African and Continental Cup titles and had victories at six out of seven IAAF Diamond League meetings.
Brimin Kipruto, the 2008 Olympic and 2015 world bronze medallist and African record-holder, also returns to Doha loking for his first win in the Qatari capital. Kipruto famously clocked 7:53.64 in Monaco in 2011, missing Saif Saaeed Shaheen’s world record by just 0.01.
Also in the field is his namesake Conseslus Kipruto, the 2011 world youth and 2012 world junior champion who has collected silver medals at the past two World Championships.
The meeting record is 7:56.58, set by Paul Kipsiele Koech in 2012, and he too is in the field.
Eunice Sum, the 2013 world champion and last year's world bronze medallist, will command the spotlight in the women’s 800m. The 27-year-old Kenyan improved her career best to 1:56.99 last season and this year is aiming for her fourth straight Diamond Race title.
Among her rivals will be Caster Semenya of South Africa, the Olympic silver medallist and 2009 world champion. Great Britain’s Shelayna Oskan-Clarke and Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui, both finalists at last year's World Championships, will also be in the race.
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL