Ethiopia’s Dibaba begins assault on Semenya’s throne

by Zelalem

DOHA, Qatar – It will be South Africa’s Caster Semenya against Ethiopian great Genzebe Dibaba when the two line up in the 800m at a Diamond League meeting in Doha on May 5.

Semenya, two-time Olympic and two-time world champion Semenya was unbeaten over 800m in 2016. Dibaba is the reigning world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist in the 1 500m, as well as the 2015 world bronze medallist in the 5 000m.

Genzebe Dibaba will make her 800m debut in Doha on Friday. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Looking for a new challenge, the 26-year-old will turn her focus to the 800m in the upcoming 2017 season, with the Doha Diamond League marking her debut over this shorter distance.

Also lining up, in what is expected to be a riveting race over two laps of the track, are Rio 2016 800m silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba, who became Burundi’s first-ever female medallist in Rio, and 2014 world Under-20 champion and Rio 2016 800m bronze medallist Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

“The track at Qatar Sports Club is very fast and there is an extremely strong line-up in the women’s 800 metres this year, so there is no better place to make my debut over this distance,” Dibaba said.

“When I last competed in the Doha Diamond League, there was a huge crowd of supportive Ethiopian fans cheering for me and I cannot wait to return to kick off my 2017 season.”

Other key athletes to look out for on the women’s programme include Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands, the reigning Olympic and world champions respectively, who’ll go head-to-head in the 200m.

Then there is Rio 2016 Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece who goes up against 2015 world champion Yarisley Silva of Cuba in the pole vault; Bahrain’s Olympic champion Ruth Jebet, who heads the field in the 3 000m steeplechase; and Michelle Carter of the US who is favourite in the shot put.

In the men’s events, the javelin is set to be a thriller as Germany’s reigning Olympic champion Thomas Röhler faces a showdown against Kenya’s reigning world champion, Julius Yego.

Two-time Olympic champion, reigning world champion and Doha crowd favourite, Christian Taylor of the USA will be looking for his third Doha Diamond League crown in the triple jump, whilst fellow US Olympic champions Kerron Clement and LaShawn Merritt will feature in the 400m hurdles and 400m respectively. Heading a large Kenyan contingent will be Rio 2016 3000m steeplechase champion, Conselsus Kipruto who goes up in the 3 000m flat.

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