Kipruto, El Bakkali clash to light up Nairobi
World and Olympics 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto’s mouth-watering battle with Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali will headline the Kip Keino Classic, the final gold label leg of the World Athletics Continental Tour, on October 3 at the Nyayo National Stadium.
Kipruto who tested positive for coronavirus last month and has since beaten the disease will run on home soil against the Moroccan who ran a world lead time of 8:8.04 at the Monaco Diamond League last month, coincidentally a race Kipruto was ruled out of as a result of the virus.
El Bakkali with Ethiopian duo of world 5,000m champion and silver medallist Edris Muktat and Solomon Barega will headline the foreign athletes contingent that will feature at the one-day meeting that has four core and nine discretionary events, with an international broadcast window of two hours scheduled for 4pm to 6pm.
World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot, who is on the verge of an historic fourth consecutive Diamond League title, will also grace the event that has attracted athletes from Ireland, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Bahrain and France.
While releasing the provisional names yesterday, meet director Barnaba Korir said with the Doha Diamond League happening on Friday, the list that so far has 175 athletes is likely to go up.
Further, he said all the athletes for core events are expected to be booked in one hotel as per the world Athletics requirements, a facility that will be settled on and made public in the coming few days.
“We were expecting over 400 athletes in May. But the dynamics have since changed with the pandemic, but we are pleased to announce we shall be receiving athletes from Europe and the US.
Of course a big number is coming from the East African region and Some from West Africa as seen in the entry list, so we are looking at, say, 200 athletes” disclosed Korir.
“There was quite a big number of athletes from Egypt, the Philippines, South Africa and Nigeria who had requested to come, but with the pandemic, we can only allow a limited number,” added Korir who insisted that the Ministry of Health has put in place strict measure to ensure all the athletes who will be coming will undergo tests before being allowed to compete.
Korir reiterated that tickets will be sold online and the system will close immediately the required number of 6,000 fans which is 20 percent of the stadium capacity has been achieved.
Meanwhile, Athletics Kenya AK senior vice-president Paul Mutwii says there will be a one hour test run on Saturday for sprinters as part of testing the facility.
He added the sprinters in 200m and 400m will be selected randomly for that particular purpose.
As per provisional list, only four sprinters, 200m national champion Mike Mokamba and his 400m counterpart Alphas Kishoyian will feature at the classic. Others are Peter Mwai in 200m and Collins Omae in 400m.
“As you know, the running track is being fixed to bring it to international standards, it will be good to experiment it with our sprinters before the event,” he clarified.
Despite Nyayo National Stadium currently enjoying Class Two certification within World Athletics guidelines, Mutwii is certain Kenya will be able to stage an event equal or even bigger than the other six continental events that have taken place.
Currently, Only Moi International Sports Centre at Kasarani is the country’s only Class One venue.
“We are currently testing a few things that will make Nyayo feel world class.
For example it will be important to ensure the work on the track is being monitored such that incase a record is broken, it will be ratified without delay or issue.
There will also be giant screens mounted and also some electronic branding within the stadium,” he said.