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September 26, 2018

Africans favoured: Korir, Amos tipped to win 800m title at Continental Cup in Ostrava

Kenya's Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir wins the men's 800m race in the Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar, May 4, 2018. /REUTERS
Kenya's Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir wins the men's 800m race in the Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar, May 4, 2018. /REUTERS

 If Africa doesn’t win the men’s 800m there will be some serious questions asked.

The continent is fielding Emmanuel Korir, the Kenyan who clocked the fastest time of the season so far, 1:42.05, at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London and who last Friday secured the IAAF Diamond League title by winning in Brussels in 1:44.72.

His teammate Nijel Amos of Botswana, 2012 Olympic silver medallist and still only 24, has run the second fastest time of the season, having clocked 1:42.14 two days before Korir’s 2018 best in winning at the IAAF Monaco Diamond League meeting.

That said, the Americas have a big chance of victory given the presence of 23-year-old Clayton Murphy of the United States, who ran 1:43.12 behind Korir in London and who demonstrated his ability to rise to the big occasion two years ago at the Olympic Games when he picked up a surprise bronze medal.

For Europe, Sweden’s Andreas Kramer has run a best of 1:45.03 this season, while his teammate, Poland’s Michal Rozmys, clocked a PB of 1:45.32 in missing out on a European medal by one place in Berlin last month. For Asia-Pacific, India’s Jinson Johnson has a best this season of 1:45.65.

Meanwhile, it appears a major men’s 1500m race will boil down to a clash between two family dynasties: the Manang’ois of Kenya and the Ingebrigtsens of Norway.

At the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere earlier this summer, Jakob Ingebrigtsen was denied 1500m gold through an inspired run from George Manangoi, the Kenyan teenager edging him 3:41.71 to 3:41.89.

But since then Ingebrigtsen has gone on to double European gold at senior level, and as he prepares to represent Europe for the first time in Ostrava, his chief threat will be George Manangoi’s older brother, Elijah.

The latter is the world 1500m champion and arrives off the back of his African Championships victory in Asaba last month which he followed up with a runner-up finish over 1500m at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich.

The chief threat to both Manang’oi and Ingebrigtsen may well be Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski, who finished with a flourish in the European 1500m final to come up just 0.04 shy of the gold medal.

He will be looking to utilise his searing finish once again to good effect. The Asia-Pacific team is led by Australia’s Ryan Gregson, who finished 10th at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich last week.

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Canada and USA’s Drew Hunter will represent the Americas, the latter enjoying a breakthrough summer in which the 20-year-old clocked a PB of 3:35.90 for 1500m in London.

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