Kenyan big shots are ready to display their impressive athletics CVs as the race to pick athletes who will fly the country’s flag in the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games starts today in Nairobi.
Moi Sports Centre, Kasarani will be action packed today and tomorrow as strong fields selected for the national trials assemble.
For athletes and Athletics Kenya (AK) - the country’s federation - there will be no room for mistakes.
Every athlete invited by AK for the tough clash for tickets to the two global meets is aiming at selection to Kenya’s team.
The two global events will take place in July and August. The World Championships will take place between July 15 and 24 in Oregon, USA, while the Commonwealth Games are taking place between July 28 and August 8.
Athletics talents which have ruled Diamond League races this season, and who have represented the country in previous global athletics championships are headlining the national trials for the two competitions.
Other athletes lining up to take positions to represent Kenya in Oregon and Birmingham are fresh from placing Kenya on the top of Africa in Mauritius.
Big names fell by the wayside during the trials for the Tokyo Olympic Games last year.
Charles Simotwo, Kamar Etyang and Abel Kipsang stunned world champion Timothy Cheruiyot during the Tokyo Olympic trials. Cheruiyot would luckily get entered to Team Kenya after Etyang was dropped.
Athletics enthusiasts are looking forward to two days of surprises and adrenaline rushing.
“We invite athletics fans to throng Kasarani Stadium and cheer our athletes,” AK Nairobi region chairman Barnaba Korir said ahead of today’s action.
Standard Sport looks at athletes to watch and the races expected to electrify Kasarani and thrill local fans.
Remember, fans across the world are also eagerly waiting to know the Kenyan squads to the two global competitions.
At 1pm today, the trials begin with men’s 5000m, where Nicholas Kimeli who had three weeks ago obliterated Eliud Kipchoge’s 18-year-old meeting record at the Rome Diamond League is seeking to prove a point.
Kimeli defeated Jacob Krop in the Rome Diamond League after trailing him for a better part of the race.
Today, Kimeli and Krop who all train in Iten will be competing for slots to represent Kenya in the men’s 5000m at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
Kimeli wrote his 12:46.33 personal best in the Rome Diamond League and will be hoping to prove to Kenyan fans that he has the potential to bring home a medal from the global meets.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kimeli placed fourth and he is keen to do even well this year. Krop on the other hand finished second in a personal best of 12:46.79.
The 5000m race will also feature Daniel Simiu, who also raced at the Olympics. Simiu’s star in the distance has been rising. He has had impressive season so far, with 10km wins in Valencia and Cape Town and had finished third in 5000m at the Hayward Field, Oregon during the Prefontaine Classic Eugene Diamond League.
In the women’s 5000m, Hellen Obiri will be competing for a place to Oregon and Birmingham with the new African champion Beatrice Chebet. A restless Chebet won the Senior African Athletics title earlier this month and is seeking to conquer the world and Commonwealth.
A team that delivered gold for Kenya at the African Senior Athletics Championships in 4x400m relay are clashing in the 200m this afternoon.
They are Samuel Imeta, Mike Mokamba and Dan Kiviasi. Others are KDF men Boniface Mweresa, Elijah Onkware, Heson Ochieng and Stephen Oluoch.
100m national champion Maximila Imali, who competed in the women’s 400m at the 2019 World Championships and helped deliver a bronze medal in the women’s 4×100m relay at the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco will light up the women’s race.
She will be competing with former 100m national champion Eunice Kadogo as well as Millicent Ndoro, Mercy Chebet and Jane Chege among others.
Timothy Cheruiyot will be a man on a mission. He will be seeking to defend his 2019 title in Oregon.
But he will be facing the three men – Charles Simotwo, Kamar Etyang and Abel Kipsang who outclassed him at the Tokyo Olympics national trials in Nairobi.
Kipsang has had an impressive 2022, recording a win at the World Indoor Championships, Kip Keino Classic and in Metz. He finished fourth at the Eugene Diamond League.
There will also be a battle of two brothers – Elijah and George Manangoi in 1500m.
Elijah, the former world champion and a reigning Commonwealth champion will be making a comeback. His brother George brings World Under-20, World Under-18 and African titles to the national trials.
In the women’s category, Faith Chepngetich is bringing two Olympic titles, and two world silver medals as well as a national record in 1500m.
Top guns have been assembled in the two-lap race. Impressive athletics CVs will be on display in the discipline.
Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich are taking to the start line their gold and silver medals respectively. They won the medals in Tokyo last year.
Wycliffe Kinyamal is on a mission to defend his Commonwealth title and possibly make history at the World Championships. He won a gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and holds a personal best of 1:43.12.
On the other hand, High School student Emmanuel Wanyonyi, who trains under the watchful eye of 800m star Janeth Jepkosgei during the holidays, is seeking to challenge seasoned 800m athletes.
Wanyonyi is the reigning World Under-20 champion. This year, he clinched titles in Ostrava Golden Spike, Kip Keino Classic and Rabat Diamond League. He is only 17.
Big names are also in the women’s 800m race. Mary Moraa, who is fresh from winning the Rabat Diamond League on June 5 will be facing World, Commonwealth and African former champion in the discipline, Eunice Sum.
Brenda Chebet, Naomi Korir and Purity Chepkirui are among other women who are in the race to represent Kenya in 800m.
In 10,000m, a strong field of men who have demonstrated ability to pull surprises in the discipline will be racing to impress an expectant country and a global fan base waiting to see how the global meets will turn out to be.
Former world record holder in the half marathon Kibiwott Kandie who was knocked out of the Olympic trials last year is gearing up for a race to book a place in team Kenya.
Samuel Chebolei who took the men’s cross country title at the Memorial Agnes Tirop Memorial in Eldoret earlier this year is in the race. He will be running alongside Charles Mneria Yosei as well as Daniel Mateiko who was second at this year’s Kip Keino Classic.
Julius Kipkwony who clinched the 10,000m title at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi last month is also in the quest to run for Kenya in the upcoming global competitions.
Global sensation Ferdinand Omanyala will be the man to watch. His performance at the African Senior Championships and at the Kip Keino Classic is an indicator that he is in top shape.