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January 17, 2019

Battle beckons :Obiri, Dibaba face off in the 5,000m race at Rabat Diamond League today

Kenya ‘s Hellen Obiri celebrates winning the Women’s 5000m  Final in Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Carrara Stadium  April 14, 2018 . / REUTERS
Kenya ‘s Hellen Obiri celebrates winning the Women’s 5000m Final in Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Carrara Stadium April 14, 2018 . / REUTERS

World and Commonwealth games 5000m champion Helen Obiri face off with Genzebe Dibaba in a mouth-watering race at the Rabat Diamond League today.

Dibaba, the world record-holder over 1500m, also has the fifth fastest 5000m time to her name with 14:15.41 from 2015 while Obiri has a 14:18.37 personal best, which makes her the eighth fastest of all time.

The pair have dueled over this particular distance twice in the past — first in Rome last year, where Obiri produced her lifetime best in winning the race with Dibaba a distant sixth. Dibaba then won in Eugene this year in 14:26.89, with Obiri a well-beaten third, nearly 10 seconds behind.

The meeting record belongs to double Olympic champion Almaz Ayana, who clocked 14:16.31 in 2016 but despite it being a marvelous mark, both women apparently have it in their sights.

It would also be unwise to discount the in-form Agnes Tirop of Kenya or the Ethiopian duo of Senbere Teferi and Letesenbet Gidey. They are all capable of upsetting the odds.

World, Olympic and Commonwealth Games 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto faces home favourite Soufiane El Bakkal. Kipruto leads compatriots Nicholas Kiptanui, Abraham Kibiwott, Benjamin Kigen, Lawrence Kemboi and former world junior champion Amos Kirui. Others to watch out for include Matthew Hughes of Canada and Fernando Carra of Spain.

Olympic 800m bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera leads the hunt in the two-lap race alongside former world champion Eunice Sum and Emily Cherotich. The Kenyan quartet will be up against Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and home favourite Arafi Rababe.

Vincent Kibet and Charles Simotwo will spearhead Kenya’s challenge in the 1500m when they face Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, Marcin Lewandoski of Poland Matthew Centrowitz of the United States alongside Ethiopian duo of Wote Aman and Tolosa Taresa.

Cyrus Rutto, Vincent Letting and Bethwell Birgen face a stern test in the 3000m race when they they line up against world 5000m champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia alongside compatriots Hagos Gebriwhet and Yomif Kejelecha

South Africa’s world and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has forsaken running over two laps and instead takes a tilt at the 1000m, a non-IAAF Diamond League event, for only the second time in her career.

After Semenya’s stunning 1:54.25 over two laps in Paris, the 1000m world record of 2:28.98 by Russia’s Svetlana Masterkova from 1996 could be in danger.

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