World champions Hellen Obiri (5,000m) and Elijah Manangoi (1,500m) fired early warning shots ahead of their title defence in four months with dominant performances in the opening leg of the 2019 Diamond League in Doha on Friday.
Obiri and Manangoi, who are Commonwealth and Africa champions won their 3,000m and 1,500m races respectively in imperious world lead times.
However, Kenya has something to ponder on especially in men and women’s 800m races after their favourite athletes Emmanuel Korir, Commonwealth champion Wycliffe Kinyamal, Ferguson Rotich and Olympic bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera faltered.
Once again Olympic and World champion Caster Semenya and Nijel Amos from Botswana reigned supreme in the two-lap races with the beleaguered South African girl posting a world lead and meet record time of 1:54.98.
Kenya looks vulnerable in men’s 3,000m steeplechase at major championships in the absence of Olympic and World champion Conseslus Kipruto.
That was vividly displayed when Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali and Kenyan-born Hillary Bor of USA dominated in Doha.
It might just be the opening leg of the Diamond League but Kenyan coaches have a lot of work to do ahead of the World Championships slatted from September 28 to October 6 in Doha.
Obiri, who is fresh from winning the World Cross Country senior women’s title in March in Denmark, clocked 8 minutes, 25.60 seconds in the women’s 3,000m to devour a strong field that included Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba.
Dibaba, the 1,500m world record-holder, returned a personal best of 8:26.20 to settle second as another Kenyan Lilian Kasait also clocked a personal best of 8:29.02 for third spot.
Obiri and Kasait’s compatriots, 3,000m steeplechase world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech (8:29.83), Caroline Chepkoech (8:29.89) and Gloria Kite (8:29.91-PB) followed in that order.
“I am happy winning at this great arena which will also host the IAAF World Championships,” said Obiri, the 2016 Rio Olympics 5,000m silver medallist.
“It’s good to begin the season with a win. My next race will be in Stockholm. I hope to remain in top shape for the World Championships.”
Manang’oi romped home in 3:32.21 beating compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot to second place in 3:32.47. Bethwell Birgen wrapped up the last podium place in 3:33.12.