The 2019 world 800 metres bronze medallist, Ferguson Rotich, returns to defend his title in the two-lap race at Doha’s leg of the Diamond League on Friday.
Women’s 3,000m steeplechase world champion, Beatrice Chepkoech, will also be in action in the water and barriers race.
Rotich, who trains in Kericho, has recovered in time for the race, having teamed up with Naomi Korir to claim silver medal for Kenya in the 2x2x400m mixed relay race at the 2021 World Relay Championships in Silesia, Poland, earlier this month.
After returning home from the World Relay Championships, Rotich stepped up training for the second leg of the Diamond League Series.
He reckons that the elite track and field athletics competition that enters the second leg in Doha will help him prepare adequately to fight for a place in Team Kenya ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.
Rotich claimed his maiden victory in Doha last year in a time of 1:44.16, having settled third on his debut in 2014 followed by second place in 2015 and fifth in 2018. He would finish a distant 12th in 2019 before ending the drought in 2020.
“I’m in good shape. I have prepared well to compete in Doha. We have missed competitions due to setbacks occasioned by Covid-19, but we are happy that things are slowly getting back to normal. I hope to come back strongly,” Rotich, who has a personal best of 1:42.54, told Nation Sport.
He reckons a good performance in track races is key if an athlete is to have a natural progression in his career and has appealed to the Kericho County Government to allow athletes access to Kericho Green Stadium to prepare for the Diamond League races and the Olympics Games.
“For better results, we need a good track for training. I appeal to Kericho County Government to open the Kericho Green Stadium for us especially because we are hoping to represent Kenya at the 2020 Olympic Games,” added Rotich.
In Doha, Rotich will come up against Commonwealth Games 800m champion Wycliffe Kinyamal, 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos and Kenya Defence Forces 800m champion Cornelius Tuwei, among others.
It will be Kinyamal’s second 800m race this season after finishing second behind Rotich during the third AK Weekend Meeting.
“I am looking forward to a good race, ” said Kinyamal, who finished third in Doha last year. ” We are coming out of a pandemic and we don’t know how we shall perform. I believe in my preparations and I’m going to do my best,” said Kinyamal, who has attained the qualifying time for the Olympics Games.
World 1,500m silver medallist Faith Chepng’etich will line up in the women’s category.
“I’m happy I will be competing again. Other than testing my speed, the race is a big way of preparing for the Olympic Games. I will be happy if I make Kenya’s Olympics team,” Chepng’etich, who has been training at Kaptagat under the Global Communications stable, said.
Chepkoech, who is also the world record holder in 3,000m steeplechase, will headline the steeplechase race.
Chepkoech has only participated in indoor races in 3,000m in the first two months where she also took part in a 5km race on Valentine’s Day, setting a new world record of 14:43.
Chepkoech is happy to return to action on the same track where she won gold in the 2019 World Championships in her specialty.
“I am happy to be going back to the city where I won my maiden world title,” said Chepkoech, adding that Covid-19 might have delayed her Olympics dream but she is confident of winning during the Tokyo Summer Games.
Chepkoech will lock horns with former world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, Roseline Chepngetich, Fancy Cherono, Norah Jeruto among other international athletes.