Chemutai, Nakaayi look to boss Eugene

Big test. Chemutai (lef) and Nakaayi up for challenge today. PHOTOS/ISMAIL KEZAALA

What you need to know:

  • The pair, together with middle-distance runner Winnie Nanyondo, will compete at the Hayward Field, the same venue set to stage the Oregon World Athletics Championships in 48 days’ time

The Eugene Diamond League (DL) Meeting tonight could be the most important event for several top athletics stars, including Ugandans Peruth Chemutai and Halimah Nakaayi.
The pair, together with middle-distance runner Winnie Nanyondo, will compete at the Hayward Field, the same venue set to stage the Oregon World Athletics Championships in 48 days’ time.
So therein lies pressure to deliver, optimism, several calculations for a litany of stars. A disappointing turnout today may creep up psychological burdens ahead of the July Worlds.
Olympic champion Chemutai will line-up for the 3000m steeplechase for the second time this season with big expectations. 

“Training has been fine and all is okay,” she said before flying out on Tuesday.
“A good race and podium will be nice,” her coach Addy Ruiter said. 
On May 7, Chemutai didn’t break much sweat in the final stages and opted not to chase the leading pair before posting 9:20.07 at a high altitude during the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi, Kenya.
Against a tougher 13-lady field comprising world record holder Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech, world leader Norah Jeruto of Kazakhstan and home girls Emma Coburn and Olympic silver medallist Courtney Frerichs, she plans to go all out over the seven-and-a-half-lap water-jump race.
“I’m planning to run fast, maybe 8:56 or 8:58,” the 22-year-old said.

If she clocks that time, Chemutai will have run faster than the national record (NR) time of 9:01.45 she set while winning Olympic gold in Tokyo, Japan, on August 4, 2021.
Nakaayi up against fatigue
Although world 800m champion Nakaayi struggled to settle in the pack before finishing fifth in 2:00.93 at the Kip Keino Classic early this month, she is seeking to make amends over the two-lap race tonight.

“Her goal is to run a national record,” Ruiter said. “Yes, that is the plan. Training has been fine and I want to do well,” Nakaayi said in affirmative too.
To conquer the field comprising Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson, Jamaican Natoya Goule, American trio of world silver medallist Raevyn Rogers, 2019 DL champion Ajee Wilson and world leader Allie Wilson, she must break her NR of 1:58.01.
And in doing so, Nakaayi will relieve herself of pressure considering she struggled to break the two-minute barrier too late in the season last year.
Allie has run the fastest time this year over the distance – 1:58.18. 

After running a 5000m race at Kip Keino and posting a new personal best over the 3000m at the Doha DL on May 13, Nanyondo will hope she has enough endurance to counter familiar foes over the 1500m.
Nanyondo is up against Olympic champion Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir and indoor champion Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay in a big 15-lady group.
While Jacob Kiplimo pulled out of today’s 5000m race, the Eugene DL has attracted several high profile names, including five-time Olympic champion Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, and Swede Armand Duplantis.

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