Rivals renew rivalry: Zakayo, Mburu chase glory in 3000m final

By Dennis Okeyo: Sunday, July 16th 2017 at 00:02 GMT +3 | Athletics
IAAF WORLD U18 CHAMPIONSHIPS KASARANI STADIUM Kenyan 3000m Edward Zakayo lead in heat 2 during the IAAF World U18 Championships at Kasarani Stadium on Thursday 13/07/17. He won the heat.[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Local boys showed their might in the semis-finals.

The 3000m boys final offers another chance for renewed rivalry between Kenya and Ethiopia as the five days of incredible Track and Field action come to an end today.

The locals are represented by teenagers Edward Zakayo and Stanley Mburu who performed well in the semi-finals dipping under 8:04.85 and 7:59.54 respectively to send a warning to their neighbours Ethiopia who are banking on Milkesa Mengisha and Selemon Barega.

Ethiopia’s Berega is the most experienced boy among the finalists having won gold medal in 5000m at last year’s IAAF World U-20 Championships in Poland. He also won the Africa U-20 championship held in Algeria earlier this month.

Basically, the final will be an Eastern African contest with Uganda, Burundi, Eritrea well represented. Bereket Michael of Eritrea booked his place in the final in third place registering 8:24.54 - making him a potential threat to the home boys. He will partner his fellow countryman Meron Goitom who clocked 8:08.09.

Burundi’s Leonce Bukuru also ran his personal best time of 8:16.87 though on paper, he is considered a podium finisher while Oscar Chelimo representing Uganda will also hope to bag a medal against his seemly strong opponents.

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Zakayo,  a Form One student at Kasait Secondary School in Elgeyo Marakwet County is the highly tipped for gold as he has a personal best time of 7:53.80 which is much faster than his compatriot Mburu who has a PB of 7:56.00.

Mburu, Form Four student at Racheri High School in Nyandarua, expressed optimism of doing well today after his race on day three of the last U-18 championships.

Kenya have dominated this event pulling a 1-2 finish at the ninth edition U-18 championship in Cali, Colombia in 2015 with Richard Yator Kimunyan winning gold over his compatriot Davis Kiplangat.

Kiplangat, who took his time off from the team bound for the London World Championships to watch the 3000m semis on Friday, tipped the Kenyans to defend the event’s title.

“The boys look strong, I can bet they will successfully defend the title. I’m happy the race is in good hands. They have our blessing,” he said.

Kiplangat surprisingly stunned many at the World Championships national trials to make the team to London by finishing second in the 5000m final last month.

Head coach Kariuki Gikonyo said: “The youngsters are competing as instructed so far, we expect a strong finish from the boys and girls in the final.”