World and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto will be the man to beat as he seeks to add another feather onto his already decorated hat at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava this weekend.
Last Thursday, Kipruto showed his finesse as he won the Diamond League final in Zurich despite having lost his left shoe a minute and a half into the race. He out-sprinted the 22-year-old Moroccan, Soufiane El Bakkali, whom he had beaten to world gold the year before, to retain his title.
Now the two men find themselves as teammates in the African cause, and they will be expected to lay claim to maximum points in Ostrava.
However, you should never rule out Evan Jager of the United States, who followed Kipruto home at the 2016 Olympics and collected a bronze at last year’s IAAF World Championships in London.
Jager has the second fastest time run this season, 8:01.02, clocked as he chased El Bakkali home at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco as the Moroccan won in 7:58.15, which puts him 10th on the world all-time list.
Jager’s Americas teammate Matt Hughes of Canada is ninth fastest on this year’s list with the 8:12.33, which he ran while finishing fourth at the Commonwealth Games in April.
For Asia, Bahrain’s John Koech has run 8:22.00 this season, and Kosei Yamaguchi 8:30.98. Spain’s Fernando Carro took silver at last month’s European Championships in Berlin in 8:34.16 and has a personal best of 8:11.54. His teammate Johannes Chiapinelli has run 8:28.10 this year, and took bronze behind Carro in Berlin.
Meanwhile, after taking a whopping eight seconds off the world record this year with 8:44.32 at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco, Beatrice Chepkoech starts favourite in Ostrava.
Since posting the record, the Kenyan has won the African and IAAF Diamond League titles, bettering nine minutes in both races. World silver medallist Courtney Frerichs of the US looks to be the best of the rest, having set a North American record of 9:00.85 behind Chepkoech’s world record in Monaco.
Winfred Yavi of Bahrain, just 18 years old, is the Asian Games champion and world U20 bronze medallist. With a personal best of 9:10.74, she is another candidate for a top placing.