Five epic track battles to look forward to in April

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Five epic track battles to look forward to in April

Joel Omotto 05:00 - 01.04.2024

The outdoor track season officially guns off in April and there are a number of mouth-watering clashes lined up that you cannot afford to miss this month.

The 2024 outdoor track season will begin proper in April where key events such as the Kip Keino Classic in Kenya and Diamond League opening two legs in Xiamen and Shanghai will take place.

That sets up epic battles at the events with top athletes confirming their participation.

April 20 will be a key date when both the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi and the Diamond League opener will take place in Xiamen on the same day, before the Shanghai leg seven days later.

So, what are some of the tough battles in the offing on the track this month?

Ferdinand Omanyala vs Letsile Tebogo

Both Omanyala and Tebogo have been confirmed for the Kip Keino Classic which could be an indication on where each of them is heading in 2024.

The two will square it off in the 100m where the African record held by Omanyala since 2021 is under threat.

Tebogo has been warming up well for the race with world leads in 200m (19.94) and a personal best of 44.29 in 400m both recorded in South Africa in March, having smashed the 300m world record by clocking an astonishing 30.69 in February.

Commonwealth champion Omanyala, who holds the African record of 9.77, set at the same event in 2021, has won the last two Kip Keino Classic titles and would not want to lose at home, setting up a thrilling battle.

Faith Kipyegon vs Gudaf Tsegay

Multiple world and Olympics champion Faith Kipyegon will come up against world 10,000m champion Gudaf Tsegay in the 1,500m at the Diamond League opener in Xiamen.

Kipyegon and Tsegay are not familiar foes which adds to the spectacle but it is the Ethiopian who broke the Kenyan’s 5,000m world record in Eugene last September after she had lowered it in Paris in June.

The mother of one, who has not lost in 1,500m since 2021, will take on 10 women who have run below four minutes, but it is Tsegay who posses a bigger challenge in the Chinese city.

Beatrice Chepkoech vs Winfred Mutile Yavi

Also setting up the stage alight in Xiamen will be the women’s 3,000m steeplechase pitting world champion Winfred Mutile Yavi and Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech whom she beat to claim gold at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Chepkoech, the world record holder over the distance, is seeking to reassert her authority as the queen of the race but the Kenyan-born Bahraini is keen to prove that she is the new kid on the block, having beaten the Kenyan in all races against her last year.

The Kenyan has warmed up for the race by winning bronze at the World Indoor Championships before a fourth-place finish in 5,000m at the African Games, both in March.

The two will, however, have to watch out for Kenyan sensation Faith Cherotich, the world steeplechase bronze medallist.

Men’s 100m in Xiamen

The men’s 100m will feature a clash between sprint superpowers USA and Jamaica, with the US charge led by former world 100m champions Fred Kerley and Christian Coleman, who will be keen to get one over on Jamaican rivals such as Yohan Blake, the former world 100m champion and Olympic silver medallist; Ackeem Blake, who recently won world indoor 60m bronze; and Rohan Watson, who won the Jamaican title last year in 9.91.

Coleman claimed the world indoor title early in March and will want to make his mark outdoors while Kerley is looking for good tidings in 2024 after failing to defend his 100m world title last year.

For the two Blakes, Yohane is back on the mend after an injury ravaged spell while the younger Ackeem is keen to show that he has come of age.

This same cast will be on show again in Shanghai a week later, setting up a great prospect.

Shericka Jackson vs Fl-Jo’s time

Double Diamond League champion Shericka Jackson will begin her 200m title defence at the Shanghai/Suzhou meeting, looking to emulate the kind of form which saw her take both sprint titles last season.

Jackson's back-to-back victories in the 100m and 200m at last year's final in Eugene saw her join an elite group of athletes who have won two Diamond Trophies in a single season, and only the second woman to win two titles on successive days.

World 200m champion in 2022 and 2023, Jackson's appearance in China will also be the first step on her road to the Olympic Games in Paris but the world record of 21.34 set by the late American Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) in 1988 is still very much on her mind.

Jackson has the second fastest time in history over 200m after running 21.41 to win gold in Budapest and having improved her personal best in each of the last three years, never has that mark looked more under threat.

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