There are huge expectations as Kenya’s athletics squad arrives in Tampere, Finland, for the 18th IAAF World Under-20 Championships that start on Tuesday.
The team boasts a legion of stars from the triumphant 2017 IAAF World Under-18 Championships held in Nairobi. Kenya should improve her pecking order in the biennial showpiece.
We finished second with nine medals (five gold, two silver and two bronze) behind USA in the 2016 edition held in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Some of these athletes have proven their mettle in the senior ranks.
Edward Zakayo pushed Uganda’s world 10,000m silver medalist to win bronze in 5,000m at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April – a testimony that he has indeed come of age.
Zakayo is the fulcrum upon which Kenya’s medal chase should revolve. He will anchor the team that has four gold medalists from Nairobi Under-18 Championships.
They include George Manangoi (1,500m), Leonard Bett (2,000 steeplechase), Mercy Chepkirui (2,000m steeplechase) and Jackline Wamboi (800m).
They also have silver medalists Mary Moraa (400m) and Lydia Jeruto (800m). Bronze medalist Stanley Waithaka, Domonic Ndigiti, who won a medal in walk race and Ednah Jebitok, who won bronze in girl’s 1500m.
National cross country under-20 champion Waithaka lines up in 5,000m finals while World Under-18 400m hurdles silver medalist Moitalel Mpoke will marshal forces with James Mucheru in the hurdles.
At 19, Celliphine Chespol is the second fastest 3,000m steeplechaser at 8:58.78 time and lead Mercy Chepkirui in the medal hunt. We wish Team Kenya all the best.