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Kenya lines up stars for Africa Championships in Cameroon

 Brian Komen celebrates after winning 1500m final at the Doha Diamond League meeting last month. [AFP]

Kenya has blended experienced charges and newbies as it gets set for the 23rd edition Africa Senior Athletics Championships scheduled for next week.

The country named a contingent of 59 athletes for the continental show to be staged in Douala, Cameroon from June 21 to 26.

Two athletes will represent the country in most of the events.

According to Athletics Kenya (AK), the team is beginning residential camp from today, just a day to the 2024 Paris Olympics national trials.

“AK has named the final team of 26 women and 33 men that will represent Kenya at the 23rd edition of Africa Senior Athletics Championships that will take place June 21 to 26 in Douala, Cameroon. The team will be led by Stephen Etyan, AK Chairman of the National Police Service and national head coach Julius Kirwa.

“The team will report for residential training camp on Thursday June 13, 2024,” the federation said in a statement.

African champion Brian Komen will be flying Kenya’s flag in the men’s 1500m showdown.

In March this year, Komen, 25, produced a mighty kick, winning gold for Kenya at the rescheduled 2023 African Games in Accra, Ghana, which was his maiden outing for the country.

Komen timed 3:39.19, beating Ethiopian Shire Ermias who took silver medal in 3:39.40. He is back again for another continental title.

At home, he had won the African Games national trials, relegating Olympian Abel Kipsang to second place in Nairobi in a time of 3:38.26.

After the African Games stellar show, Komen astonishingly claimed 1500m victory at the Doha Diamond League last month, stunning former world champion Timothy Cheruiyot.

In Douala, Komen will have the company of Boaz Kiprugut who competed at the Stockholm Diamond League late last month.

Mary Ekiru, who finished third at the African Games in March, will be joining forces with Caroline Nyaga who won gold in 10,000m at the 2022 African championships in the women’s 1500m.

New kids on the block, Edmond Serem – a younger brother to former World Under-20 3,000m steeplechase champion Amos Serem, a dominant figure in school games and Collins Kiprop will be seeking to become the new water and barrier race stars when they compete in Douala.

Mercy Wanjiru and Leah Wanjiru who finished top and second respectively at the national championships in Nairobi last month will be in Cameroon to prove a point in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase race.

Former world 10,000m silver medallist Stanley Waithaka and World Under-20 5,000m bronze medallist Levy Kibet will battle for honours in the 12.5-lap  clash.

The women’s side will feature former World Under-20 champion 3,000m Teresiah Muthoni Gateri and multi-talented Mercy Chepkemoi, who finished third in the African Games trials, and who also competes in discus throw and shop put.

Olympic Javelin silver medallist Julius Yego will be eying a qualifying mark in the African senior showpiece.

Ferdinand Omanyala (100m), Abel Kipsang (1500m), 4x100m team, Samuel Gathimba (20km walk), Julius Yego (Javelin), Winny Chebet (1500m), Beatrice Chebet (5,000m), Caroline Nyaga (10,000m) and Emily Ngii (20km walk) claimed victories in the last edition in 2022.

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