After two days of nothing but pure challenge, Kenya finally picked its squad for the 10th IAAF World Under-18 Athletics Championships set for Nairobi from July 12-16.
There are huge expectations as the nation prepares to strike a hat trick after triumphs in Poland (1999) and Italy in 2007 and they go up against seven-time champions and 2013 winners, Russia.
Head coach Gekonyo Kariuki said they would do everything possible to ensure Kenya ascends to the top of the world with new stars emerging from Kenya’s production chains.
“We will direct all our energies to win in Nairobi. I am sure our decision to host the event will put smiles on Kenyans’ faces,” said Kariuki.
Immaculate Chepkirui, the world under-20 5,000m silver medallist, leads the team, which boasts a bag of mixed talents.
Chepkirui, a Standard Seven Pupil at Kibori Primary School in Sotik, made her intentions clear as she strolled to victory in 9:05.7.
Beatrice Chebet (9:07.0) was second, while Sena Jemutai (9:08.1) will try her luck in next year’s World Under-20 Championships.
“I must win gold at home. That’s what I want to achieve this year. I am happy to have made the team and I think this is the best moment.
“I have prepared well and having competed against them before, I think I am ready for the challenge,” said Chepkirui, who finished eighth in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships 6km race in Kampala, Uganda, in March.
Cynthia Chebet picked her javelin spot without much trouble and will lead her other four teammates –Philemon Konari (200m), Gloria Mulei (triple jump and long jump), Jackline Wamboi (800m) and Peter Wambua (400m hurdles) – from athletics-rich Nairobi’s Riruta Central to the global showpiece.
In boys’ races, Dominic Kipkemboi made the 1,500m team after finishing in 3:44.0 alongside George Manangoi (3:44.4).