Obiri eyes gold on return to track competition at Doha Diamond League

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NAIROBI, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Hellen Obiri returns to the track for the first time in 2019 after winning the World Cross Country Championships gold, which was the only medal missing from her illustrious cup.

Obiri will be among the six reigning world champions, eight Olympic champions and winners of nine 2018 Diamond Trophies, who will line up at the Qatar capital in Doha for the first round of the Diamond League circuit. Obiri will run the 3,000m flat race.

The world number one in 5,000m hopes to launch her season on the track with victory against a strong field, as she seeks to build on it in the countdown to the World Championships, which will be in the same city and stadium in October.

"I believe this race is important to point to me where I am in fitness. It is important that I return to Doha and successfully defend my world title. Last year, I was happy to be ranked world number one again. Winning the Diamond League trophy for the second year in a row was one of my highlights of 2018," said Obiri on Thursday.

Obiri will run on more familiar and conventional turf as she returns to the city where she broke the African 3000m record in 2014, clocking 8:20.68, still the fifth fastest performance of all-time.

Her chief opponent is long-time rival Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, the world 1500m record holder who has captured the last three world indoor 3000m titles. She too will be making her 2019 outdoor debut.

The pair have raced 18 times over distances from 1500 to 5000m, with Obiri holding a 10-8 lead, but over 3000m Dibaba has won three of their five meetings.

The strong field in the event includes Beatrice Chepkoech, the world record holder in the 3000m steeplechase, and Caroline Kipkirui, the winner here last year. Both have sub-8:30 lifetime bests.

Others in the field are Kenyans Beatrice Chebet, Winny Chebet, Loice Chemnung, Eva Cherono, Margaret Chelimo, Caroline Chepkoech, Gloriah Kite, former Olympic silver medalists in steeplechase Hyvin Kiyeng and Mary Kuria. Enditem

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