Top athletes are set to lock horns as the Athletics Kenya (AK) National Championships start at Kasarani Stadium today as part of the preparation for a busy continental and international roster for the runners
The three-day national duel was initially slated for May 28-30 but was changed due to the declaration of May 30 as a National Holiday to accord the late Mwai Kibaki a befitting State Funeral.
AK also shelved the planned anti-doping seminar that was scheduled for today.
The athletes will use the contest to prepare for the busy season that will have World Championships in Oregon, Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and Africa Championships in Mauritius.
The blistering races will see the AK regions and disciplined forces seek national honours.
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The disciplined force will include Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service, Kenya Prisons Service and the National Youth Service.
Police who have dominated the championships over the years have recruited heavily with Africa 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala leading the assault in both 100m and 200m.
Rhonex Kipruto, the world record holder over 10K will be the star attraction in the men’s 10,000m, Abraham Kibiwott in men’s steeplechase, Wycliffe Kinyamal in men’s 800m, Mary Moraa spearheading the women’s 800m and Michael Kibet, a fourth-place finisher at the Tokyo Games chasing glory in men’s 5,000m.
Isaac Kirwa, the Kenya Police coach says all his charges were in top form and will be difficult to beat at the event which will be used to select a team for Africa Championships slated for Mauritius on June 8-12.
“We are full-house as Police team. Omanyala missed out on Police Championships and he will double in 100m and 200m. I’m sure we will emerge top,” Kirwa said.
World marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich and World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot will be chasing the national titles for Prisons Services.
Chepngetich announced her arrival at Prisons with a double victory in women’s 5,000m and 10,000m respectively and will be up against KDF’s red-hot Joyce Chepkemoi in today’s women’s 10,000m final.