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Rift Valley dominates steeplechase in national games

 Anne Naenkop of Rift Valley before winning ladies 3000m steeplechase race during Kenya Secondary School Association games at University of Eldoret Uasin Gishu County yesterday. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

High school athletics stars yesterday announced their arrival on the big steeplechase stage after racing on a muddy track to clinch decisive victories at the ongoing National Secondary school games staged at the University of Eldoret.

Matthew Kosgei from athletics powerhouse, Kimuron Secondary School, representing Rift Valley stormed to a convincing victory in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, defeating Ezekiel Ruto of St Mathias Murumba (Rift Valley).

Kosgei, the son of the legendary steeplechaser William Kosgei, said he was following in the footsteps of his father.

He obliterated a strong field, leading from gun to finish in the race which was delayed for two hours following heavy rains that pounded Eldoret yesterday morning.

The steeplechase race was dominated by Rift Valley schools, who will be representing Kenyan secondary schools at the East Africa games in Rwanda later this year.

Kosgei overcame the muddy track to post 9:01.9 ahead of second-placed Ezekiel Ruto 9:24.1. Yonah Kimtai from Kaptama, Western region booked the third place in the tough mid-morning race.

“The conditions including mud on the track were tough but I had to persevere because I came to the race to win. I had many other challenges previously and I was not ready to let this go. I had qualified to represent Kenya at the World Under-20 championships in Columbia last year but I was locked out because of lacking the necessary experience,” Kosgey, a 17-year-old form four student after his win.

He said his father William had encouraged him to remain focused and face competitive races bravery.

“I want to be among the best steeplechasers and fly the country’s flag. I had trained with Amos Serem (former World Under-20 champion) and that gave me the motivation to run and be a champion.

“I also get inspiration from my mother Lucy Kipyego who often insists that I should overcome challenges and focus on winning. I am going to the East Africa Games with patience, confidence and courage,” Kosgei said.

One of his school coaches, Thomas Chemelil described Kosgei’s win as the result of dedication by the institution and its tactical teams.

“Kosgei is the future of steeplechase and we are encouraging him to fight on,” he said.

Ann Naenkop from Kiambogo in Naivasha, Rift Valley also led from start to finish.

She confirmed her win at the regional athletics championships, also announcing her arrival to stardom.

“I had a dream of representing the country at the Africa Under-18 championships but I didn’t qualify. Being the national steeplechase champion now gives me the opportunity to represent Kenyan schools in the East Africa school games in Rwanda,” Naenkop said.

The 16-year-old form two girl crossed the finish line in 11:17.72 as Sharon Chepkirui from Kiptere, also from Rift Valley took the second place in 11:26.61. Viviane Chepchumba representing the Western region placed third in 11:31.17.

Naenkop opened a lead in the last two laps in her campaign to stamp authority during Day One of athletics in the games which started on Tuesday.

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