Kenyan stars say they are ready to take on the world

Selah Jepleting (169) leading 5000m women finalAthletics Kenya Trials for World Championships and Commonwealth Games at The Moi International sports Center, Kasarani Stadium, June 25, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

From north pole to south pole, global athletics enthusiasts waited with bated breath as Athletics Kenya (AK) fashioned teams for Commonwealth Games and the World Athletics Championships.

Determination and redemption were quite visible inside Kenya’s biggest sporting cathedral, Kasarani Stadium, during the two-day contest as stars battled for the limited slots.

But the men’s 100m showdown was simply the day’s showstopper -given the huge attention it attracted across the globe after USA and Jamaica staged their national trials on Friday.

Yesterday, Africa 100m record holder Ferdinand Omanyala won in 10.03 seconds to set up a tough duel with America’s Olympic silver Fred Kerley and Jamaica’s Yohanne Blake at the World Championships that run in Eugene, USA, on July 14-25.

Kerley clocked 9.77 seconds while Blake basks in 9.85 seconds this season setting up a dogfight at the biennial showpiece.

Omanyala, who is also the Africa champion, led Samuel Imeta (10.03), Boniface Mweresa (10.25), Stephen Oluoch (10.46) and Mark Kangéthe (10.54).

Omanyala said his win was not impressive. “I need top plan well for the World Championships. I expected a sub 10 but the conditions looked not so good. I will get to Oregon with huge expectations. But I am under no pressure. I am ready to face the stiff competition,” he said. He has also been named in the Commonwealth Games squad.

Commonwealth Games 800m champion Wycliffe Kinyamal won the two-lap race in 1:43.54 ahead of World Under-20 champion Emmanuel Wanyonyi (1:44.01), Elias Ngény (1:44.05), Festus Lagat (1:44.31), Cornelius Tuwei (1:44.66) and Nicholas Kebenei (1:44.84).

US-based Michael Saruni (1:46.95) and Olympic 800m silver medalist Ferguson Rotich (1:48.20) faded to ninth and 11th places respectively.

Kinyamal, Wanyonyi, Tuwei and Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir, who earned a wild card as 2021 Diamond League Trophy winner, were named in the World Championships team.

Kinyamal will defend his Commonwealth Games title and will marshal forces with Elias Ngény.

“I am in top form at the moment. I competed in 400m build ups, which sharpened my speed. We are not going to USA on a tour but on a serious athletics battle. Watch this space,” said Kinyamal.

Wanyonyi said he was happy to make his debut at the national team as a senior.

Abel Kipsang, fourth at the Tokyo Olympic Games and winner in 1500m at the opening leg of the Wanda Diamond League in Doha, Qatar, and Birmingham, won the 1500m race in 3:34.55 ahead of world champion Timothy Cheruyot (3:34.59), 2016 world Under-20 champion Kumari Taki (3:34.73), Raymond Kipkorir (3:34.77) and 2017 world Under-17 champion George Manangoi (3:35.86).

Mary Moraa 400m women winner Athletics Kenya Trials for World Mary Moraa and Commonwealth Games at The Moi International sports Center, Kasarani Stadium, June 25, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Eliud Kipsang (3:36.69), Charles Simotwo (3:37.35), Ryan Mphaalele (3:37.99) of South Africa, 2017 world champion Elijah Manangoi (3:40.35) and Etiang Kumar (3:41.61) followed.

Kipsang said: “I am a good front runner. I thrive under pressure and that’s what I enjoy most. I gathered confidence after winning the Africa Senior title in Mauritius.”

Cheruiyot, who will make his fourth stab at the World Championships, said he has been feeling well but he has recovered. “In the next two weeks, I will hit my top form. I am ready to defend my title,” he said.

Kipsang, Cheruiyot, Taki and Simotwo have been named in the World Championships team. Cheruiyot will defend his Commonwealth Games crown and will join forces with Kipsang and Taki.

Sprinter Maximilla Imali cross the 100M Women race finish line during Athletics Kenya Trials for World Championships and Commonwealth Games at The Moi International sports Center, Kasarani Stadium, June 25, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

World Half Marathon silver medalist Kibiwott Kandie was peerless in 10,000m battle as he won in 27:33.57 ahead of  Stanley Waithaka (27:34.01), Daniel Mateiko (27:34.62), world Under-20 5000m champion Edward Zakayo (27:35.07), Daniel Simiu (27:39.85) and world 10km record holder Rhonex Kipruto (27:48.48).

It was bad luck for Kandie, who even after winning, was not included in the team since he has not attained World Championships qualifying time. Waithaka, Mateiko and Rodgers Kwemoi, who did not finish the race were named in the team.

Zakayo and Simiu were named in the Commonwealth Games squad.

Selah Jepleting, a finalist in 1500m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, won 5000m in 15:05.24 ahead of newly crowned Africa champion Beatrice Chebet (15:07.74), world 5000m silver medalist Margaret Chelimo (15:10.35), Margaret Edogor (15:11.28) and Teresia Gatee (15:14.46).

World champion Hellen Obiri will defend her 5000m title and will also line up in 10,000m at the World Championships. She will team up with Beatrice Chebet, Gloria Kite and Margaret Chelimo in 5000m at the World Championships.

Obiri will marshal forces with former Africa 5000m champion Sheila Chepkirui and Chelimo, who will also compete in the 10,000m.

Obiri, Chelimo -5000m and 10,000m - and Olympic 800m champion Emmanuel Korir are the only athletes who will double.

Jepleting said: “I am happy to have won the race. I need to rectify some mistakes I made today ahead of World Championships. It was tough race, though. I had prepared well.”

Chebet said: “I am still recovering after the Africa Senior Athletics Championships. I need to plan well from now. It’s good if I elevate the Africa gold into a world title. We must win medals.”

Winner 100M Men Ferdinand Omanyala during Athletics Kenya Trials for World Championships and Commonwealth Games at The Moi International sports Center, Kasarani Stadium, June 25, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

In 3,000m steeplechase, world Under-20 champion Jackline Chepkoech upstaged two-time world Under-20 champion Celliphine Chespol to win in 9:21.84. Chespol (9:32.50), Purity Kirui (9:36.39), Virginia Nyambura (9:38.55) and Fancy Cherono (9:46.51) followed in that order.

World champion Beatrice Chepkoech,who has a wild card, will anchor Kenyan charges in Eugene that features Chepkoech, Chespol and Kirui.

Jackline Chepkoech and Chespol were also named in the Commonwealth Games team while Kirui is a reserve.

Jackline Chepkoech said she had prepared well for the race. “I am happy to earn a slot in the national team.

"I know it will be a tight race and everyone has trained for the championship. I want to thank my coaches Patrick Sang and Richard Metto for the good guidance and nice programme. This is good transition and I want to be in the medal bracket but I have to train harder for the global events,” said Chepkoech.

Athletics Kenya named 43 athletes for Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, on July 25-August 8 and another 46 for the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, USA, on July 14-25.