By Omar Mohammed and Isaack Omulo
ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) – Kenya’s Olympic 3,000 metres steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto has criticised the trimming of the Diamond League programme next year and told Reuters it will affect athletes’ preparations ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The steeplechase, triple jump, 200 meters and discus have been cut from the Diamond League’s core programme in an effort to create a faster-paced and more exciting event.
The 24-year-old Kipruto, who successfully defended his world title in Doha in October, said the Diamond League meetings gave athletes the opportunity to gauge themselves against the competition, especially heading into major championships.
“They (the changes) are going to affect us in preparation for the Olympics,” he told Reuters at an Athletics Kenya conference in the northwestern city of Eldoret.
“That’s where we always collect our tactics. Like, who is in shape, who is not in shape… so that we can see, we can get well-prepared as well.”
Other athletes have also criticised the move to cut down on Diamond League events, including triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards and the Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake.
Kipruto is unhappy that the men’s steeplechase will only appear at five Diamond League meetings and not in the final.
“I am worried about the future of steeplechase,” he said.
“We gauge ourselves against other runners at these Diamond League meetings, and it is not good that we shall be watching others at the final.”
Kipruto said he has started training for the coming year with two big goals in mind — defending the Olympic title he won in 2016 in Rio and breaking the 7:53.63 world record set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen 15 years ago.
“Next year, it’s an Olympic year, so I want to defend my title when it comes to Tokyo,” he said. “Another thing I want is to run the fastest run ever in steeple.”
Kipruto plans to enter next year by running in winter cross-country competitions in Europe before getting ready for the track.
“That’s what I am preparing for at the moment. That always prepares us into getting endurance,” he said.
Looking further ahead, Kipruto wants to enter road races.
“I see it in my future, in my dreams, I want to do long-distance, even up to marathon,” he said.
(Editing by Toby Davis)