By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, May 15 (Xinhua) -- The story of Kenya's world 5,000m silver medallist Sylvia Kibet's career so far has been a remarkable one. The ending could be even better.
Kibet, who leads a galaxy of Kenyan stars to the second leg of the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on Saturday, wants to make a mark on her debut this season over the 3,000m distance.
The Kenyans departed on Wednesday to Shanghai via Dubai. Her main rivals including former World 10,000m champion Linet Masai, Olympic 5,000m winner Meseret Defer (Ethiopia) and Mercy Cherono.
"There is an anxious moment for all athletes in the long distance because we are all making our first show on the international scene. It will be difficult and strange to everyone running in Shanghai," said Kibet, Wednesday in Nairobi.
At 29, Kibet is in her peak in the distance running, but she has failed to break that jinx that has seen her finish second best in numerous international competitions.
However, sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.
"Of course the focus is on the World Championships in Moscow in August. I am ready to challenge my opponents again after recovering from injury that saw me fail to make Kenya team to the London Olympics," said Kibet, Wednesday in Nairobi.
Kibet, who has been unlucky picking just two silver medals in the last two World championships, is certain this will be her year of glory as she hopes to be third time lucky in Moscow.
The refuted fears that off-field problems and a series of injuries took the wind out of sails.
"Everyone is focused on the big competition. It is a process, a journey that starts at the beginning of the year. For me, Shanghai Diamond league will be my entry point as I seek to shake off the rust after a long lull.
"To run competitively against the strongest opposition will help me realise my ranking and prepare better for the other races in the build up to Moscow," she said.
Coming from a family with a rich distance running pedigree, it was no coincidence that Kibet, a Kenya Police officer by profession, took up athletics. With an older sister, veteran distance runner Hilda Kibet, and a cousin, the mercurial 2007 World Cross Country and triple Road Running champion (2006-2008), Lornah Kiplagat (now Dutch national), Kibet did not need to look far for inspiration in Shanghai.
Kibet star has for long been dimmed by the exemplary performances of her rivals Meret Defer, Tirunesh Dibaba (both Ethiopian) and compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot, the World and Commonwealth Games 5,000m champion.
But she believes she will be third time lucky in Moscow after picking silver at the last two World Championships events in Daegu, South Korea (2011) and Berlin (2009).
However that will be depended on her form in Diamond league series, of which Shanghai on Saturday will serve as the springboard to announce to the world her intentions for the season.
The Shanghai leg will be the second Diamond League meeting of 2013 and takes place on May 18. Seven athletes who won track and field gold at the London Olympic Games are among the 18 past and present Olympic champions who will compete for points in Shanghai on Saturday.
Eight reigning world champions, three world record holders and a total of 26 current Olympic medallists also feature in the star-studded line-ups unveiled by organisers.
Kenya challengers will have to watch out for Defar, who has a devastating sprint that kills off opponents in the final straight. She is on a mission to regain the 5000m title she had won eight years ago.
The 5,000m field has been dominated, as you would expect, by Kenyans and Ethiopians including Masai, the 2009 world 10,000m champion, 2011 world silver medallist Kibet, and Genzebe Dibaba, younger sister of Tirunesh, deposed by Defar for the Olympic crown.
Two of Kenya's Beijing champions - Asbel Kiprop and Brimin Kipruto - head the men's 1500m and 3000m steeplechase fields, while another 2008 winner, Pamela Jelimo, leads the women's 800m line-up.
Kiprop faces Silas Kiplagat, the man he beat to win the world title in 2011, plus two other London Olympic finalists, Mekonnen Gebremedhin and Nixon Chepseba, while Kipruto takes on three Olympic bronze medallists - Paul Koech, third in Athens, Richard Mateelong, who took bronze in Beijing, and Abel Mutai, who was third in London.
"I was disappointed with my performances in London Olympics. But that was last season, I have a new slate to start on and target glory in Moscow. But there is small matter of Kenyan trials, which I must do well to earn entry to the World Championships," he said.
"There are many younger athletes coming through the ranks and it will not be easy in Shanghai. I also plan to run in Oslo, Norway and then concentrate on the impulsive Kenya trials," said Kipruto.
After Shanghai, the focus will be on Rome, the third stop in the 16-leg championship. The IAAF Diamond League is entering its fourth season.
The 16-leg meetings are spread across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the USA, and are the top tier of the IAAF's global one-day meeting competition structure.
This series of 14 meetings, each offering prize money of 480,000 U.S. dollars, showcases 32 event disciplines, which are carefully distributed amongst the meetings.
In each of the 32 event disciplines there is a 'Diamond Race' with points available throughout the 14-meeting season.
Each of the 32 event disciplines is staged seven times with the top three Athletes being awarded the same amount of points at each meeting with the exception of the Final where the points are doubled.
The overall winner of each of the 32 Diamond Races will receive a 40,000 dollars cash prize and a spectacular Diamond Trophy created by Beyer, one of the oldest and most respected jewellers in the world.