By Mutwiri Mutuota

Grace Wanjiru became the first of five Kenyan Africa titleholders to book their place in the July 17 to August 1 Nairobi 2010 continental championships after effortlessly retaining her women’s 20km walk national crown.

African men 800m record holder and champion, David Rudisha and her women 800m counterpart also Olympics gold medallist, Pamela Jelimo were other winners from Addis Ababa who remained on course for a continental title defence during Day 1 action of the IAAF Permit/AK National Championships cum Nairobi 2010 Trials yesterday.

soared to crown Wanjiru, who soared to the African crown in a national record of 1:39.50 in Addis, clinched victory in her speciality after strolling to victory in1:43.2, ahead of second- placed Esther Murugi (1:48.1) who also booked an automatic slot in the national team.

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A delayed programme of activities that saw competition end three hours behind schedule. Rudisha, who holds two of the top three times of the year, impressed after ‘jogging’ to a 1:46.1 victory in Heat 4 of men’s 800m, beating Berlin World Championships finalist, Jackson Kivuva (1:46.3) to second place.

World Championships silver medallist, Alfred Kirwa (1:50.2) was almost eliminated after finishing third in his heat won by Abraham Kiplagat (1:49.9).

In the women’s 800m, Olympics and world silver winner, Janeth ‘Eldoret Express’ Jepkosgei qualified for Saturday’s decider after leading her competitors across the line in 2:07.8 with Prisons runner, Sylvia Chesebe (2:08.3) in second in Heat three. The earlier preliminary race saw Olympics champion, Jelimo finish second in 2:10.2 where Tabitha Wambui won in 2:10.2.

Olympics 1,500m women’s champion, Nancy Jebet Lagat still remains unbeaten this year after posting 4:14.2 to top her heat, while national champion Irene Jelagat (4:14.5) was beaten in her preliminary by World Junior champion, Nelly Chebet (4:14.2).

Beijing men 1,500m gold medallist, Asbel Kiprop, who also won 800m bronze in Addis Ababa, was second (3:43.3) in his metric mile heat won by Daniel Komen (3:43.0), while African silver winner over the same distance, Gideon Gathimba (3:42.0) also advanced after finishing runner-up in his first round race.

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Freshly minted

Anderson Mureta, the men 400m hopeful, underlined his billing by winning his heat in 46.52, a mark that beat the 46.64 Nairobi 2010 A-Standard qualification mark. Another celebrated qualification to the continental showdown outright was freshly minted national Long jump champion, Terah Langat, who leaped 7.84m, an effort that is under the 7.80m entry standard for the continental event.

Winnie Langat and Caroline Cherotich celebrated shattering women’s Pole vault national record that stood at 2.40m after tying at 2.65m. The pitiful side of the Kenya Police duo’s story was when their effort fell way short of the 3.95m A-Standard for Nairobi 2010.

"We have not prepared adequately to compete at field events and although there is hope we can produce good athletes, we have no proper equipment and funds to prepare thoroughly.

It is my wish Athletics Kenya will take action on this matter," national field events coach, Elizabeth Olaba told FeverPitch.

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IAAF Grace Wanjiru