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Sprint champion Schippers primed for tough Diamond League test

By Luke Phillips | AFP News – 8 June 2016

Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands competes during the IAAF World Indoor athletic championships in Portland, Oregon, in March 2016
Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands competes during the IAAF World Indoor athletic championships in Portland, Oregon, in March 2016

World champion Dafne Schippers will face a tough 200m test from in-form Jamaican Elaine Thompson at Oslo’s Diamond League meeting on Thursday when Kenyan Asbel Kiprop will go for a fifth Dream Mile title.

Schippers, the 2014 European double sprint champion, set the Beijing world championships alight last year with victory in a third-fastest time ever of 21.63sec.

The Dutch sprinter clocked 11.09sec as she came in second to the American English Gardner in Birmingham’s 100m on Sunday.

Thompson, who won world 200m silver in Beijing last year, has been in top 100m form, timing 10.87sec to beat out Gardner at last week’s Rome meet.

While there will be no Genzebe Dibaba running in the women’s Dream Mile, the men’s line-up features four-time winner Kiprop.

Kiprop has all the credentials to continue his run in the Norwegian capital: triple world champion, 2008 Olympic champion and current world lead in the 1500m (3:29.33) and mile.

“I have had three days’ recovery (since Birmingham) and it is good weather so far, so I feel ready and capable of running my personal best,” Kiprop said.

“Depending on the weather on the day, I am optimistic that I can run fast.

“After the race here I go back to Kenya for three weeks’ preparation for the Kenyan trials and then, hopefully, Rio. It will not be easy because we have so many talented runners, but I will try my best.”

Kiprop was awarded the Olympic gold for the 1500m in 2008 after the original winner, Moroccan-born Bahraini Rashid Ramzi, tested positive for doping, something the Kenyan said he uses as extra motivation.

“The sweetest moment for any athlete is to win Olympic gold and have the national anthem played in the stadium,” he said.

“It is every athlete’s dream. Being denied this in Beijing has given me extra motivation to work hard and achieve that dream.”

Kiprop’s biggest threats in the Dream Mile include current world number two and silver medallist at last year’s World Championships, fellow countryman, Elijah Motonei Manangoi, while current Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria will be out to challenge the Kenyan domination.

The men’s 100m features up-and-coming Canadian Andre De Grasse, Ameer Webb of the USA and the evergreen Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis.

De Grasse triumphed in Birmingham as Webb paid the price for his exploits in Rome, where he won the 200m and came a very narrow second to Justin Gatlin in the 100m.

Collins may be 40 years old, but the 2003 world 100m champion set a personal best of 9.93sec last month.

Other highlights of a packed programme is a pole vault battle between France’s Olympic gold medallist Renaud Lavillenie and Canada’s current world champion Shawnacy Barber, and a loaded 100m hurdles.

Over 10 hurdles, Australian Sally Pearson will be seeking to fight off a strong American trio of 2013 world champion Brianna Rollins, 2008 Olympic champion and 2012 silver medallist Dawn Harper-Nelson and Jasmin Stowers.

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