Confident Kenyan women eye 4x1500m record
Kenya's Hellen Onsando Obiri celebrates as she comes in third place to win the bronze medal in the women's 1500 metres at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 15, 2013 - by Adrian Dennis
Mercy Cherono, Irene Jelagat, Ann Karindi Mwangi and Perin Nengampi set a world record of 17min 05.72sec in the 4x1500m in Nairobi only last month.
Nengampi has now been swapped for 2012 world indoor champion Obiri, who has touched down in Nassau in prime form after setting an African 3000m record in Doha this month.
"We had a very strong team who set the record last month," Obiri said Friday. "But the team is stronger now. Kenya can do it."
The rarely-run 4x1500m is the longest of five relays along with the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800 being held at the inaugural two-day World Relays, launched by world athletics' governing body, the IAAF, to increase the appeal of track events to a younger audience.
Obiri said the Kenyan team would take to the track at the sell-out 15,000-seater Thomas A. Robinson stadium in the Bahamian capital with no undue attention.
"We have pressure from other teams," she said. "The pressure is in the seven other lanes, not so much from home."
The IAAF is offering a total prize purse of $1.4 million for the 600-plus athletes from 40 countries, with $50,000 going to winning teams and a further $50,000 paid out for new world records.
"The 3000m is my favourite event and I'm unlucky there's no 3000m relay," joked Obiri.
Kenya look set to challenge several records, with women's world champion Eunice Sum and 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei going in the 4x800m.
"People are excited and expect us to do well," Sum said. "There's not much pressure, it's all about good team work and we're in good form."
The men's 4x1500m, on paper, is perhaps the field with most depth in Nassau.
Kenya have on-fire world champion Asbel Kiprop running along with Collins Cheboi, Nixon Chepseba, and Silas Kiplagat.
Olympic 1500m silver medallist Leo Manzano of the United States said it was always a pleasure to be going up against the likes of Kiprop.
"I've been racing against him since 2009," he said. "He's always going to bring it, it just makes me want to be better.
"I've heard some rumours that Kenya will be going for the world record. Our hope is to be alongside them.
"It's exciting to be out there to compete with the guys and lay it down there."