Steeplechaser Kipruto's return a relief for Kenya

World and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto. — Courtesy photo

NAIROBI — World and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto is targeting a winning return in his first race in a year in the Paris Diamond League meeting on Saturday.

The return of the Kenyan 2018 Diamond League winner after suffering a leg stress fracture last year is a relief for Kenya ahead of the world championships in Doha, where its stranglehold on global steeplechase titles was under threat for the first time since 1991.

"I am proud to return to racing again after such a long time. The most important thing is that I am fully healed, and my target now is to take back my position at the top of the 3,000m steeplechase," Kipruto told AFP on Wednesday before leaving for Paris.

Kenya has won every Olympic gold medal in the men's steeplechase since 1968 and are undefeated at the world championships since 1991.

In Paris, Kipruto is expecting to renew his rivalry with Morocco's Souffiane El Bakkali, who has taken full advantage of the Kenyan's absence to cement his place as the season's world number one, with two world-leading victories at the Doha and Monaco Diamond League meetings.

The 23-year-old Moroccan, who won a silver medal behind Kipruto at the 2017 world championships in London also heads the list of seven qualifiers for the Diamond League finals in Zurich on August 29 and Brussels on September 6.

But victory for Kipruto in Paris will open the door for him to qualify for the two-legged final before heading back home to prepare for the Kenya team's world championships trials on September 12-13. — AFP