The World Indoor Champs is March 1-4, the World Half Marathon is March 24, and the Commonwealth Games is in April. A busy schedule for many elite athletes and the chance for some new stars to emerge in Kenya. Here is the story by Justin Lagat on the recent Trials.
New faces emerged and triumphed at the Kenyan Commonwealth Games trials that happened this weekend at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi.
Earlier in the year, Athletics Kenya had named a marathon team to represent Kenya at the Gold Coast Games that seemed to have surprised many as the team did not include the usual big-wigs in marathon. Nicholas Kamakya, Kenneth Mburu, Julius Mungara, Shelmith Muriuki, Sheila Jerotich and Hellen Nzembi were the names that made it into the team.
However, as the national federation held the trials this weekend for track and field events, many of the favorites failed to turn up for the national trials while others failed to impress the selectors during the event. Could this be the beginning of a new generation of Kenyan runners?
In the men’s 800m event, for example, there was no David Rudisha, no Ferguson Rotich and no Kipyegon Bett, among others as the relatively new stars in the event ruled the day. It was Jonathan Kitilit who won the 800m race as Wycliffe Kimanyal and Cornelius Kipkoech followed to secure the three slots to form the team.
All the four 3000m steeplechase male runners who represented Kenya at the world championships in London last year; Ezekiel Kemboi, Brimin Kipruto, Jairus Birech and Conseslus Kipruto did not run in the trials, but Conseslus made it the team through a wild card. Abraham Kibiwott was the winner of the event during the trials with Amos Kirui finishing second behind him.
Both the men and the women 10,000m events produced new names in the event. All the names that represented Kenya at the London world championships failed to make the team, but this is understandable in the men’s part since Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki are already preparing to run at the world half marathon championships in Valencia. It was Paul Tanui who did not have a good day at the trials. Rodgers Kwemoi won the men’s race followed by Jonathan Ndiku (former 3000m steeplechase runner) in second and Josephat Bett in third. Sandrafelis Chebet won the women’s race followed by Stacy Ndiwa.
The men’s 5000m race was won by the U17 3000m world silver medalist, Edward Zakayo. Nicholas Kipkorir and David Bett took second and third positions respectively. Margaret Chelimo won the women’s race ahead of Evan Cherono and the two will be joining Hellen Obiri who got a wild card in the team.
Beatrice Chepkoech changed her event from the women 3000m steeplechase and won the women’s 1500m race. Winny Chebet and Mary Wangari followed her to make the team in second and third positions.
Despite the move by Chepkoech, the women’s 3000m event remained almost with the same top runners as Celliphine Chepteek Chespol, Purity Cherotich Kirui and Fancy Cherono followed each other in that order to take the first three positions.
Like the women 3000m steeplechase race, the men’s 1500m event also had the usual runners excelling as Timothy Cheruiyot won the race against Elijah Manangoi with the relatively new Kumari Taki taking third.
With the selected team, Kenyan fans should expect new names and a new generation of Kenyan runners to win medals in Australia.