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Kenya's Olympic silver medalist targets diamond league success

23 August 2016, 15:44

Nairobi (Xinhua) -- Olympic 400m hurdles silver medalist Boniface Tumuti Mucheru of Kenya is on a mission to prove his achievement in Rio Games was no fluke.

Mucheru, who will be making his second quest in the Diamond League meetings, will compete in the 400m hurdles at Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday and has put aside his celebration ceremony to focus on winning the race.

"I will celebrate later," said the Africa champion. "At the moment, it is crucial to win in Switzerland and then head home."

Until last year, Mucheru was not known. He won in his heat to qualify for the finals of the 400m hurdles but faded to seventh. He recorded a new personal best time of 48.79, which was a second better than his past best mark.

This year, before leaving for the Shanghai Diamond league in China in May, Mucheru suffered hamstring injuries on both legs that affected his performance where he clocked 50.16 to finish last.

However he returned stronger and put his focus on winning gold in Rio. He almost had his way but was edged out by American Kerron Clement, who won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, triumphed in 47.73.

But for the 24-year old, he had done enough to have his name among the greats. It made him the first Kenyan to win an Olympic medal in 400m hurdles and that performance also saw him register a new personal best time of 47.78 seconds, which also enabled him to breaking the national record of 47.79 set by Nicholas Bett when winning the world title in Beijing last year.

Now he joins 31 medalists, including 10 Olympic champions, who will compete at Lausanne meeting.

In the 100m hurdles, Olympic champion Brianna Rollins will take on world record-holder Kendra Harrison, who did not qualify for the US Olympic team.

The addition of Sharika Nelvis and Jasmin Stowers means the race in Lausanne will have four of the five fastest U.S. women of all time.

Swiss hurdler Clelia Rard-Reuse, who finished fourth at the European Championships and was a semi-finalist in Rio, could not dream of any better way to finish her career.

"My fan club, my family and many people from my region will come and cheer for me," she said. "It will be very emotional."

Her teammate Lea Sprunger missed out on the 400m hurdles Olympic final, but in Lausanne she will face the three medalists from Rio: Dalilah Muhammad of the USA, Sara Slott Petersen of Denmark and USA's Ashley Spencer.

The men's 110m hurdles will also be a highlight as the top four from the Olympics have been confirmed with Omar McLeod, Orlando Ortega, Dimitri Bascou and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde all set to compete.

Elsewhere, world and Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta will compete in the long jump while Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya lines up in her specialty.

- Xinhua


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