Here is Justin Lagat’s feature on the Kenyan National Championships, which are being held this coming weekend to pick the teams for the African Athletics Championships.
National championships/trials to select Kenya’s team to the African Athletics championships happens from Thursday to Saturday in Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya
Like the rest of athletes in the continent, Kenyan athletes are finalizing their training for the Asaba African Senior Athletics Championships that will happen on 1st to 5th August in Nigeria. The only thing remaining for them now is to make the team!
The national Championships will take place from Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 June, this week, at the Kasarani stadium. Athletes from all the regions in the country, the defense forces, the police and the prisons service will all be converging to compete for national titles as well as slots in the team to Asaba since the national championships will be doubling up as trials for the Africa Athletics Championships as well.
According to a press statement from Athletics Kenya (AK) on the social media, the first two athletes to cross the line will automatically qualify to make the team and the 3rd one will be selected through a wild card.
The month of June has been such a very busy one for athletics in the country with the Kasarani stadium having been fully occupied and busy from 6th when the Kenya Defense Forces did their track and field championships, the world under 20 trials happening there on 11th, the Kenya Police Service doing their championships on 13th and the Kenya Prisons doing theirs on 15th.
Kenyan had placed 3rd on the medal table during the 2014 edition of the championships that happened in Marrakech behind Nigeria in 2nd and South Africa in first place. In 2016, Kenya moved one step forward and was placed second behind South Africa during the championships in Durban. The team that will be selected this week will determine whether Kenya will move one more step forward and win the continental title, keep their second position, or get overtaken by another country.
Some of the Kenyans defending their championship titles from Durban include Norah Jeruto (3000m steeplechase), Alice Aprot (10,000m), Sheila Chepkirui (5000m) and Grace Momanyi (20km walk) for women. The men’s side have Douglas Kipserem (5,000m), Boniface Mucheru (400m hurdles), Samuel Ireri (20km walk) and Mathew Sawe (high jump).
As Kenya names their team, one thing is certain; Kenya will be able to send a stronger team to the championships this time round given that there is no major international event affecting them. There was the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and most of Kenya’s big stars had opted to focus on the Olympic Games instead of the African championships.