AK pick squad for Africa meet: Olympic, World and Africa stars headline national team

By DENNIS OKEYO: Sunday, June 24th 2018 at 00:02 GMT +3 | Athletics
Winner 5000Meters Women Hellen Obiri during the Athletics Kenya National Trials Championship at Kasarani Stadium on Saturiday June 23, 2018. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

A 61-member team make it to the Africa Senior Athletics Championships set for Asaba, Nigeria.

A strong team has been unveiled for the 21st Africa Senior Athletics Championships that runs in Asaba, Nigeria, on August 1-5.

Yesterday, Athletics Kenya picked a 61-member squad that features Olympic, World and Africa champions after three days of riveting action at Kasarani Stadium.

The national team eye top spot in the continental meet, having finished second (eight gold, eight silver and eight bronze) behind hosts South Africa in 2016.

Olympic 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri and World 1,500m silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot will lead the onslaught in the west African nation, having won their races in the trials without much fuss.

Obiri, who is eyeing a ticket to Ostrava IAAF Intercontinental Cup, will line up alongside 2017 World Cross bronze medalist Lilian Kasait and Loice Chemining.

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Cheruiyot and Charles Simotwo as well as World 1,500m champion Elijah Manangoi, who wanted  a wild card as he missed the finals after he lost his sister on Thursday.

In the absence of Olympic champion Faith Chepng’etich, who is on maternity leave, Kenya bank on former Under-20 800m silver medalist Winny Chebet, Mary Kuria and Judy Kiyeng in 1,500m.

Olympics 3,000m Steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto, who has declared his interest to attempt the World record in the Monaco Diamond League meeting on July 20, leads the water jump and barriers race alongside 2016 World Junior Steeplechase champion Amos Kirui and Kennedy Njiru.

Beatrice Chepkoech, World Junior record holder Celliphine Chespol and Fancy Cherono headline the women’s 3,000m Steeplechase contest.

Iten-based 17-year Samuel Chebolei, who missed out at World Under-20 trials, proved his mettle as he won 5,000m in 13:38.2 ahead of national champion Cyrus Ruto and Commonwealth Games silver medalist Edward Zakayo.

Pauline Korikwang, the 2006 World Junior 5,000m silver medalist, will marshal forces with Africa 10,000m champion Alice Aprot of Kenya Prisons Service alongside Stacy Ndiwa, who earned a wild card, in the 10,000m.

Vincent Rono and 2014 Commonwealth Games 10,000m silver medalist Josephat Bett will team up with Kipsang Temoi in the men’s 10,000m team.

Emily Cherotich, 32, who took the honours in the women’s 800m category after flooring former World champion Eunice Sum and Olympics bronze medalists Margaret Nyairera, leads the two-lap race squad.

American-based Emmanuel Korir, who opted to run 400m at the trials to improve his speed, will lead the men’s 800m after being granted a wild card alongside Jonathan Kitilit and Ferguson Rotich.

“It’s off season in the US, and I have to maintain my top form, that’s why we decided to run in 400m race for speed endurance” said Korir.