World champ Obiri relishes Shanghai Diamond League debut
NAIROBI, March 18 (Xinhua) -- World 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya is relishing her return to track competition at the Shanghai Diamond League in China on May 18.
"I am preparing for defense of my Diamond trophy and the World Championships in 2019. Shanghai will be my first race on track over 1,500m and hopefully, I will do well," Obiri said on Monday in Embu, Kenya.
"That is why I have opted to compete in World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus, Denmark (March 30), so that I may gain my strength and endurance," she added.
The IAAF Diamond League will now include the very best 12 meetings up from 14, leading to a single final at the end of the season. A total of 24 disciples (12 male and 12 female) will run across the 12 meetings and the final, with the longest discipline being the 3000m.
Obiri, however, says it was wrong for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council to vote on removing the 5,000 and 10,000m races from the 14-leg Diamond League starting with the 2020 season. Obiri believes this will ultimately kill the long distance interest from athletes and kill the sport eventually.
"This will be catastrophic for Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Eritrea and Bahrain because they have many athletes in the long distance races. It is like they are targeting Africa. These new changes will hamper the progress of young talents in Kenya and Africa region," Obiri said.
"For me the removal of 5,000m is not a good idea because it is actually like they are targeting Africans. The young athletes will also be greatly affected since they will be denied a platform to showcase their talents," she added.
The 29-year-old has threatened to move up to the marathon distance from 2020 to avoid the new rules, which will limit the number of competitions for the long distance runners.
"If they proceed with these changes then there is no need to remain in track, I will probably shift to road races," Obiri charged.
This will be the cue for younger athletes to opt for marathon and road races earlier than expected, which may limit the number of years they may run owing to ligaments wear out caused by the tarmac.
However, IAAF says the new series aims to provide athletes with the chance to compete in a high-quality international circuit of the world's best one-day meetings.
It also promises a more consistent, action packed format for broadcasters and gives fans a persuasive reason to come back to the sport week in and week out to follow the star athletes as they gain points to qualify for an exciting end of season finale.